Passionless Fashion

transforming our lives by transforming our wardrobes

Day 90 – Tuesday

Ena - Day 90

Ena: Here I am in my Thakoon dress – would ya look at that?!  When I bought this dress at Target a few weeks back I wasn’t sure that I’d have the guts to wear it before this project is over (more on that later), but I did and boy am I glad I did.  Getting dressed this morning, I was thinking the same thing I thought in the dressing room at Target, “Wow, this dress is beautiful but there’s no way I can pull this off.”  As you’ve likely gathered by now, I am not really a print wearer; I have on occasion been known to rock a printed shirt, but never something like this…not even remotely close.

Walking into work this morning, I was feeling apprehensive (to say the least), and it wasn’t until Bina arrived and gave me the thumbs up that I began to relax.  And, right now, after having walked around like this for the last eight hours, I can’t believe that I ever considered not buying this dress.  Who am I?  Seriously?  I feel like me, but every time I catch a glimpse of myself I think, “Who is that terribly chic, incredibly confident woman?”  Oh, alright…and, “Wow!  That’s some crazy dress!”

Today is Day 90, ten more days of Passionless Fashion to go.  I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having mixed emotions with respect to reaching the end.  I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about this whole thing.  But, right now, I am absolutely sure that I have come a long way and that all of the changes – aesthetic and otherwise –I’ve undergone during the course of this project have been positive and have made me a happier, more fulfilled person.  So, here’s to making the home stretch count; there’s still lots to accomplish by Day 100, things could get…more interesting.

Bina - Day 90

Bina: Hi. Do you need a ruffle? Cuz I think I might have a few to spare.

When I walked out of the house this morning, I felt a pang of fear. Maybe these socks are too costume-y? What if I look completely ridiculous? What’s up with this bun on top of my head? Is my lipstick too bright?  Seriously, I don’t think I realized until I saw the pictures how many ruffles are happening here. There’s the ruffles on the Forever21 sweater, the ruffle at the bottom of the skirt, and then, of course, the ruffles on the lacy socks. I just want to state that I did not realize how frilly these socks are! I think I’d like something more along these lines, but what the heck, I had picked up this cheap pair at The Icing, and after Ena and Renah gave me a pep talk, I tried to rock them the best I could. It’s been a little scary realizing I may be dressed like a Naughty Secretary on Halloween.

To make myself feel better, I am now going to recall a few of the encouraging comments I have received in the last week. This morning, as I treaded lightly in my frilly socks to the commissary for coffee, I heard a long whistle. A male co-worker flamboyantly exclaimed, “Damn!!! You look so cuuuuuuute!” I breathed a little easier, extremely appreciative of a gay man’s seal of approval.

Yesterday, a hetero male co-worker came to my office to tell me he thought I would “get discovered one of these days on the lot, walkin’ around all glamorous in your sunglasses.”

“Annie Hall! I love it!” It is amazing how iconic this look is. Throw on a tie, and people will start calling you Annie Hall, too. Also, men seem to love a woman in a tie. I think it’s some kind of kinky gender-reversal thing; and I think we’ve all seen Pretty Woman. Hell-o. Sexy.

At the end of yesterday, after we read each other’s entries, Ena said she was jealous of my newly organized closet. I told her that I was feeling guilty for not doing something more humanitarian than cleaning; we discussed how gutting my closet was actually good for me. And Ena said something to me that resonated, “A better you is better for the universe.” That’s true. If I’m healthier and stronger, I’ll be more able to continue truly helping others down the road. Although I must admit I get a secret, shallow satisfaction out of seeing heads turn in my direction, because it means I am exuding confidence, and, for me, selfishly, that’s real progress.


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Day 89 – Monday

Ena - Day 89

Ena: Wow.  I am tired, really tired; like, completely spaced-out, brain-dead, I-don’t-want-to-write-this-post-because-it-seems-too-exhausting-to-even-think-about tired.  I don’t know what’s going on, but all of a sudden a couple of hours ago the accumulated tiredness of my past few sleepless nights hit me like a ton of Lunesta.  I could fall asleep right now as I sit here typing this.  For all the sense this post is making, I could be sleeping right now as I sit here typing this.  Wow.

My current state of incoherence really is unfortunate because I have some very exciting news to report today.  Oh well, here goes.  This Saturday I went to volunteer orientation at 826LA and it was aahhh-mazing!  In their own words, 826 is a, “non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write,” and it is rad, super rad.  I am so unbelievably thrilled to have the opportunity to volunteer for this organization, so much so that I just sorta woke up from my semi-coma while thinking about it.

826 is a nationwide program and there are two locations here in the Los Angeles area; one in Echo Park (where I’ll be volunteering) and one in Venice.  They offer a slew of scholastic services and are super pumped and energetic about everything they do.  If you’re looking for scholastic volunteer opportunities, check them out.  I will be tutoring high school kids from 6 to 8 pm every Tuesday and also volunteering for weekend workshops when my schedule permits.  I am crazy stoked, I can’t wait to start…unfortunately I will have to; it takes 3 to 6 weeks for the background checks to be complete.

Bina - Day 89

Bina: After my long-winded and cathartic post on Friday, this weekend seemed like a great time to do some spring cleaning. I gave my closet a full-gutting, and it felt fantastic. I tried on all of my jeans to see which ones are now so baggy I would look like a member of Kris Kross if I wore them backwards. (Yes, I just referenced Kris Kross, what? I realize out of all the hip-hop possibilities I could have gone with, I went with Kris Kross. Let’s all just move on now, shall we?) And also, I tried them on to see which ones I could now fit my ass into, so to speak, post weight-loss. The results were astounding – to me, at least.

This particular pair of Seven jeans, well, I barely fit into them to begin with, and I barely fit into them now, but by gum, they are on and they are buttoned! I think in the time that they have been sitting on a shelf in my closet, the wash and cut may have gone out of style, but I don’t care. I found these shoes and the little canvas belt at – yep, you guessed it – the Goodwill. I think thrifting is my new addiction. The canvas slip-ons are Grasshoppers; they look brand-new; I adore them. As for the top, you may recall seeing it a couple of times before.

I donated the relics I realized I wasn’t getting any use out of to Planet Aid, and felt a sense of relief from purging excess clutter.  Now, I can make more sense of my closet – it’s a beautiful thing. And I have more room for all those new little gems I picked up at the Goodwill…

Day 88 – Friday

Ena - Day 88

Ena: I know it doesn’t look like it, but it rained today.  It rained this morning, then the sun came out, then it got cloudy and windy, and then the sun came out again.  We have been experiencing schizophrenic weather here in Los Angeles this week, and, frankly, I’m sick of it.  It’s gonna rain?  Fine, rain; I can deal with rain.  What I cannot deal with is being dressed for rain when it’s actually 70 degrees outside.  What I cannot deal with is being prepared (or unprepared) for whether that might (or might not) happen.  Grrrrr.

Alright, in actuality I can deal with it and I have been; I’m just tired of it.  And yes, I know that we Southern Californian’s are really quite spoiled and that I shouldn’t complain because I’m probably making people sick, so I’ll stop.  Preparing myself for rain this morning and really wanting to be comfortable, I decided to wear my favorite jeans and my crazy thrifted plaid booties to keep my feet dry.  Jeans and booties in place, I proceeded to throw on a number of loose tops attempting to achieve…well, I don’t really know what; a schlumpy-dumpy, messily layered, sorta artsy, (hopefully warm), layered look.  Right.

I really have no idea what compelled me to put this mess together, but here I am.  I am feeling pretty upset with myself over my lack of enthusiasm this week; in my outfit choices, my pictures, my posts – for whatever reason, I feel like a failure this week.  Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go home and eat poinsettias or anything, it’s really quite the contrary; my blah-ness is actually inspiring and motivating me to do better next week.  Next week I’m hoping for better outfits, better pictures, better posts, better everything.  I am also hoping that I can avoid looking like Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope ever again.  Just sayin.

Bina - Day 88

Bina: My first love introduced me to Annie Hall. He taught me immeasurable amounts about good movies, music, and art; for that, I’ll always be grateful. You see, he was a whole lot of firsts for me, but I was certainly not a lot of firsts for him. He was different and dangerous; I liked that about him. I had always been the quiet Good Girl; I liked that this Bad Boy noticed me. He said ridiculously romantic things like “you’re my angel” and professed he was falling in love with me while parked in his van on campus after we had been dating for two weeks. He was passionate; he was talented; he was rock and roll. I was completely in over my head.

In my heart of hearts, I knew that he wasn’t faithful. The anxiety about what he was doing behind my back was a sickness – it ate away at my soul. But I didn’t want to believe it. Because I loved him. I was 21, and like many girls with father issues, I thought I could change him.

I remember the day my suspicions were confirmed. Well, there were a series of confirmations really, but there was one in particular that I remember because…well…because I punched him in the face. I had never punched someone in the face, and haven’t since, I swear – I don’t belong on Flavor of Love or anything. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but my fury clearly didn’t last too long because…we got back together.

Being an artist and musician, like any good Bad Boy, he wrote a rock musical called In the Middle of the Ocean partially inspired by our story. With lyrics like “he broke her heart but still she loved him” interwoven with pirate ships and Greek mythology, how could I not swoon? The climactic number is sung by the main character, Camilla, as she pleads with the devil for her love, proclaiming that she is “Anything But Soft.” You can listen to it here; it’s pretty amazing.

And so, we tried to rebuild. We lasted for six years. We matured into our 20s together in New York, and we loved each other, but I could never get over the past. I couldn’t trust, and without trust, relationships die. There’s a line in Annie Hall – “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” So our shark died, and it was very sad. Because despite all the heartache, he had become my best friend and favorite playmate. But we had to let it go. I had to be anything but soft.

Today, we are friends. He and his wife just had a baby! I’m actually very happy for them, even if I momentarily thought it would be brilliant to mass-produce T-shirts that say “My ex-boyfriend just had a baby and all I got was this lousy blog (insert URL here).” Maybe not.

As for me, well – double gulp – I have a second date tomorrow. La-di-da, la-di-da, la la.

Day 87 – Thursday

Ena - Day 87

Ena: I’ve had the idea of wearing something like this for a while now, and today I did it….kind of.  I should probably explain that a bit more.  I am really interested in mixing bright colors together and then pairing them with an “anchor” color like black or white.  I’m not sure if I’m explaining it very well; does that make sense?  Oh well.

I wear this shirt pretty frequently.  Or, more accurately, I have three different shirts in this exact color, and I wear them pretty frequently.  Though I didn’t like the outfit, I did like last Thursday’s short-pants/high-shoes combo (something else I had been meaning to try for a while) and I made a mental note to attempt the whole thing again sometime soon…which is now.

In case you were wondering, no, I did not purposefully space my short-pants/high-shoes outfits exactly one week apart; it just happened, though I will admit that it is rather odd.  So, for whatever reasons, today I decided to wear this frequently worn bright fuchsia shirt, this black short-pants/high-shoes pant suit, and, to top it all off, this chartreuse-y, yellow-ish, tie-dye scarf.  Tah-dah!

In all seriousness, I absolutely LOVE the way that the colors of the shirt and the scarf look together and paired with the black pant suit – I just could not for the life of me figure out how to stylishly wear them all together.  Bina and I attempted a few colorful (pun intended) looks with minimal success.  The problem, I think, is that the scarf is just too long; there is just too much of that beautiful fabric for one person to know what to do with…too much for this one person at least.

Bina - Day 87

Bina: Growing up with a mother whose native tongue is Japanese and a father whose native tongue is Hindi, you’d think that my brother and I would have picked up one of those two languages. We did not. We went to school in the Southern Baptist town of Aledo, TX; we lived in a neighborhood called White Settlement; there was only one black family from K-12 grades. We spoke English in my house, and we spoke it with a lot of twang. Well, except for my Mom, she still has her Japanese accent, not much Texan twang to speak of there.

We were, however, at least exposed to Indian culture because Dad’s side of the family lived nearby. My cousins and aunties made sure I was always well-versed in Bollywood movies, religious holidays, and Indian dancing. (Oh yeah, I’ve danced at a lot of Indian weddings.) But there were never any other Japanese people around. My Mom seemed like the only one, and though I know that wasn’t really the case, she was the only one in my world anyway.

I’ve wanted to be fluent in Japanese my entire life. I tried to remedy this by taking Japanese in college. I took it for two years and actually learned quite a bit; the next time we went to Japan, I was able to understand and converse much more than I had before, but without everyday practice, I quickly forgot what I had learned. While living in New York, I decided to take a brush-up course. Things came back to me fairly quickly, but, again, once classes were over, and I stopped practicing…konnichi-what now?

Okay, I exaggerate but it’s ridiculous that I can’t just have an honest-to-goodness conversation with my grandmother or cousins sans a translator or a lot of charades. I’ve got the basics, but I want to really be able to talk to them. So all this is to say that I’ve been perusing my old textbook, and looking at conversational Japanese courses in the area and online. 私の幸運を祈ってください! (Wish me luck!)

P.S. Oh right, the clothes! This pale mauve top is from the Asian designer sample grab-bag that Christine gave me. It’s totally weird; the straps in the back are twisted, and I’m not quite sure if that’s on purpose or not. But it’s really comfy and I dig its original cut. Plus, I get to try out my new strapless bra – I had a Victoria’s Secret gift certificate so I splurged and got measured. Turns out I was a different size than I thought I was. Huh.

Day 86 – Wednesday


Ena - Day 86

Ena: Today’s post will be short, which is alright because I’m wearing a very boring outfit. I like to think of this as my ready-for-rain look, and since rain is coming I suppose it was an appropriate choice. I have said this before and I’m gonna say it again: I love these boots. These boots still rank as one of the best thrift store purchases I’ve ever made. Sturdy, comfortable, and waterproof, they are the essence of utilitarian-chic. In short, these boots rock – an appropriate adjective I think as they are referred to by my father as my Kiss boots…as in the band, not the action.

Besides the weather, comfort was also on my mind this morning as I pondered over what to wear.  I am headed to the Clippers game after work tonight, so in addition to warm and waterproof, I needed something unrestrictive with an expandable waist line – I love stadium food.  I probably haven’t mentioned it here before, but I love sports; I love to watch them, play them, yell at people I’m watching playing them.  I am very competitive, a personality trait that I often find embarrassing; getting worked up over a heated tennis match is one thing, getting worked up over a friendly game of Scrabble is another.  Over the years, I have tried to embrace those aspects of my character which I haven’t always been proud of, and though I’m still working on coming to terms with my competitive nature, tonight, at the Staples Center, I will be totally comfortable letting my freak flag fly…go Clipps!

Bina - Day 86

Bina: Honey! I’m home!!! I feel like Lucille Ball in this get-up, which is fitting since we work at a movie studio where she used to stage pretend play-dates with her children in front of a New York brownstone facade so that people would think she was home with her kids instead of being a workaholic. What era am I in anyway? 50s? 60s? I don’t know anymore; I’m like a time-traveling fashionista.

This Harriet Hale Original dress was jammed between some bathrobes at the Goodwill. It was so wrinkled that it looked like it must have been wadded up into a ball at some point, and it is missing every single one of its original buttons. But I thought I could make it work; it seemed like it just needed some TLC. I ironed the dress this morning, something I rarely do, and that seemed to make a pretty big difference, though whatever fabric this is makes it extremely prone to more wrinkles, so that didn’t last too long. As for making it work without buttons (until I take the time to sew on new ones), this dress is being held on my body by one bright red elastic belt, and a safety pin. I have managed to gather it in all the right places so you don’t see my hoo-ha or anything. All in all, I’m so glad I was able to see through its damaged facade to the beauty of the dress I thought was possible. I am enjoying my retro persona for the day.

Moving away from the retro, I just taught my mother how to Skype; I have been telling her for the last year that we should video-chat. She seemed to believe this whole idea was just complicated nonsense; a mythical thing I made up that wasn’t possible. Well, finally, one of her friends helped her download the software; my brother bought her a little camera to hook up to her laptop; and she’s learned how to answer a call.  However, there’s usually some technical difficulty on the first few tries.

“Mom! There’s no video! Did you hit ‘Answer’ or ‘Answer with Video’?”

“Oh! Call again!”

“Mom! There’s still no video!”

“I don’t know why? I hit the right button this time…”

“Is the camera hooked up?”

“Oh! Call again!”

“Mom! Move the camera! Now I just see the ceiling!”

And then I have a conversation with my mother’s eyebrows. It’s pretty great actually. After I got the latest update on my Japanese loved ones and hung up with her the other night, I closed my laptop and turned around. And then I saw it on the bookshelf staring back at me: my old, tattered copy of Japanese for Busy People.

Day 85 – Tuesday

Ena - Day 85

Ena: Ok, I was here yesterday, but only for about an hour.  I had an allergic reaction to something that I ate on Saturday, and, as it was progressively getting worse, yesterday morning I decided that it was time to visit the Doc.  So, here I am, slightly itchy, fairly uncomfortable, and covered with small red dots – sorry, no bikini shots today so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Thankfully the weather is still cool enough for me to hide my hideously inflamed skin behind leggings, boots, a cardigan, and a jacket.  And, just in case that wasn’t enough, I decided to go with this bold purple-button necklace in an attempt to divert attention away from my splotchy, irritated face.  What do you think?  Success?

Despite my run-in with whatever it is that caused my allergic reaction (still unknown; time for a trip to the Allergist), I had a really good weekend.  On Saturday I attended the GAB training/workshop and on Sunday I spent some quality time with my couch and the remote control…and my boyfriend.  It was the perfect way to spend a cold, rainy weekend.

The GAB workshop was great; it was informative and educational and will, I’m sure, prove very helpful.  Though some of the material covered was, in my opinion, common sense, I did learn a few things on Saturday that would have never crossed my mind.  For example, apparently a large (and difficult) part of the job is finding kids who will let you read to them, you have to actively recruit them, sometimes even resorting to bribery in the form of stickers and pencils; silly me, I thought they’d be lining up.

I also learned a lot about the GAB program, its origins, its aims, and its role in the community.  With the exception of a few full-timers, the program has been primarily powered by volunteers for the past 22 years, and I was amazed to learn the impact it has had on the lives of thousands of children over that period.  This program makes a real difference, it’s something that I believe in and am thrilled to support.

After Saturday’s workshop, I definitely feel more prepared for – and less frightened of – the kids and my stint as a LAPL volunteer, and I feel extremely proud to be participating in the program.  I absolutely cannot wait to get started…unfortunately, I will have to; it takes 3 to 6 weeks for the background checks to be complete.

Bina - Day 85

Bina: I’m like an ad for the Glendale Goodwill today. Well, maybe the Glendale Goodwill circa 1977? I tried something totally different this morning, and I must say I’m pretty pleased with myself. The shoes are a little brighter than I thought they were, but hey, whatever, look at me, I’m wearing yellow shoes! They rule! Thrifted for $14, they are American Eagle brand; I love the color, the sturdy strappy pattern, and the chunky platform heel. As for the shirt, well, I looked at this shirt for a very long time before I bought it for $5 – it reminded me of when I used to raid my Mom and Dad’s closet when I was in 6th grade, because you know, at that point, all my Mom’s stuff from the 70s still fit me. Damn, that woman was tiny.

I remember once getting ready to go out somewhere in college, I was wearing a super-ruffled high-collared mauve long-sleeve blouse that I had taken from my mother’s closet, and my roommate at the time said, “Well, that’s Bina – always different!” Yeah. I like prints and unusual things; being a former-actress-in-recovery, I guess I like clothes with character, clothes that make you feel something.

I learned about the technique of “outside-in” acting from one of my favorite professors in college. Utilizing this method, we would first explore and discover our character’s posture, movement, vocal patterns, facial expressions, clothing choices, etc. And figuring out these things would inform us how to become the character. That’s how this project started. We figured if we put on some nicer threads, we might start to feel like the characters we wanted to become – the best versions of ourselves. I think it’s working, because today, when I look at myself, it feels reminiscent of looking at the grainy photographs from my mother’s old albums. I hope one day to be almost as beautiful.

Day 84 – Monday


*Ena is out of the office today.

Bina - Day 84

Bina: “Successful people wear silly hats.” That’s what Alexis and I decided within a few months of moving to Los Angeles. It seemed that everywhere we turned, at every brunch sidewalk cafe, every douchey and/or hipster bar, LA scenesters were sporting their finest fedoras, newsboy caps, berets, trucker hats, and bowlers – a veritable field day of silly hats. Now don’t get me wrong – I love hats. But I always feel a little silly wearing them unless it’s for a practical purpose such as keeping my head and ears warm in a New York snowstorm. As I get older, I am also starting to really appreciate being shielded by an over-sized sun hat brim on the beach.  So yesterday, it seemed fitting, as I was traipsing about in the mini-monsoon running errands, that I throw on my Target fedora to keep my head dry. The old-school tube socks are from a little store in the Glendale Galleria I recently discovered called Sockmania!; the scarf was a Christmas gift from The Gap, and you’ve seen the dress from Japan before.

I was so inspired by Andi’s amazing post on Friday that I felt like being ballsy and quirky, like dressing my inner superhero! To hell with feeling self-conscious! In fact, I enjoyed wearing this look around so much yesterday that I did laundry last night so I could wear the whole thing again today, Euro-style.

And now that I’m wearing a silly hat, success must be right around the corner!

Inspiration: Andi

Bina: Please welcome Andi Teran! (applause break) I met Andi back in the theatre department at the University of TX at Austin. She was a year ahead of me in the program, and I thought she was quite possibly the coolest girl I’d ever seen. Later, I had the pleasure of working with her on a few plays in New York, always admiring her from afar. For as long as I’ve known who Andi was, I have always thought of her as a force to be reckoned with. Her addictive zeal for life, acting, art, movies, writing, and style make her one of the most beautiful, passionate people I’ve ever had the privilege to come across.

We asked Andi if she would mind taking time out of her very busy schedule, which includes contributing to websites such as VanityFair.com and Vogue.com, and writing her own amazing blog, Verbose Coma (check it out, run don’t walk!), to tell us a little bit about what fashion and style mean to her, as well as what motivates and excites her. We love and admire the way that Andi has turned her passions into her career. She is truly inspirational.

Andi!

Andi: To the French poet and neck-ribbon aficionado (a man after my own heart) Charles Baudelaire who once said, “Style is character,” I must state that I firmly believe character is style. Whether innate or learned, whimsical or reserved, style is always a projection of the self. Some believe it to be an art form, others a philosophical statement, but to me, it is both a choice and a way of life. Also, let’s be honest, clothes are just really, really fun.

For the record, I believe that fashion and style are two entirely different peacocks. Fashion is new and now; style evolves over time. Fashion is chosen by a cognoscenti; style is dictated by the individual. Fashion fades; style is eternal. Now, I love fashion and have worked in and around it for years, but what I truly revere, what continues to speak to me when I open my closet doors every day, is my own style. That probably sounds totally pretentious, but it’s taken me awhile to get here. (Also, geez, I started with a Baudelaire quote! Gag me.)

I first learned about style from an Australian woman on CNN. Like every other third grader in suburban Texas, I watched cartoons on Saturday morning. One day, while flipping channels, I came across a woman with a severe black bob and red lipstick. She had on a pretty dress and spoke to me like I was a grown-up. With a backdrop of classical music, the kind I imagined played on loudspeakers all over France, this woman, Elsa, introduced me to designers who made crazy bright colored clothes for models who could punch bullies with their eyelashes. I was enchanted. Elsa went on and on about things like patterns and the importance of a great necklace in this calm, elegant way. It was unexpected, but from that Saturday forward, I stopped getting up for The Smurfs and made sure I was awake for Style with Elsa Klensch.

Soon after (the result of many impassioned pleas), my mom took me shopping for school clothes and agreed to let me put together an outfit of my choosing. I wanted something with an animal on it because I liked animals, but I also wanted to make Elsa proud. I chose a black, button-up shirt covered in giant orange and white striped zebras paired with Tang-orange baggy pants also covered in zebras, these in black and white—the yin to the shirt’s yang, if you will. I figured it would pass the fancy fashion test because the shirt had buttons (I was used to wearing t-shirts), and it had to be tucked into the trousers. I topped this ensemble with a dark sweater vest, remembering a recent designer on the show who had a penchant for wearing all black, and tipped it out with my favorite brown lace-up shoes. The look was what I considered safari superhero chic, and it made me feel powerful and transformed.

At school the next day, I was christened with a new nickname: “zebra head.” I hid during recess until the bell rang. Even my best friend—who always looked cute in pink and blonde—left me alone. I didn’t understand. My outfit made me feel good and was something I had put together myself. It was a long walk back to class, but somewhere on that dusty road of elementary fashion fallout, something had changed. A kindergartener passed us in the hall, pointed at my clothes and said, “I like your pants! I like zebras!” This restored my confidence. If only one person other than me liked my ensemble, that helped, yes, but I liked it, and this meant everything.

Today, I still wear animal prints as often as possible (leopard is always beatnik-y and classic). I like menswear mismatched with floral shirts and huge plastic accessories. I don’t care about labels but live for good construction. Elsa taught me that all you need is a simple outfit that fits well; you can then trick it out with fantastic accessories. The only things I save for are well-made, comfortable shoes that last (like leather oxfords which go with everything, look cute with dresses, and stand up to NYC concrete). Splurging on a black leather handbag that holds all your everyday stuff or investing in a classic, tailored black blazer is good, too. The one thing I’ve really learned on my own, though, is if it makes me feel fantastic when I put it on, then I know that it works.

I moved to New York City to be an actress (SO many costumes, SO many different people to dress up and be!), but if you’d told me I’d wind up working in fashion, that one day I’d attend fashion week (a lifelong dream) and meet some of the people profiled on Elsa’s show, I’d have passed out right then and there. I’ve seen all kinds of crazy “fabulosity”, but the people who have stood out from the crowd, the ones whose zebra pants I like the best, are always the ones just living their lives in outfits that illustrate who they are inside. Brave women who don’t give a toss if anybody thinks they look pretty or cool, like Isabella Blow and her crazy hats, or Daphne Guinness in feathers and Cruella hair. I’m obsessed with regal lady-bird Iris Apfel, an octogenarian who layers tons of necklaces atop loud tropical prints. I like women who take the time to care, as well as those who look like they aren’t trying at all (hi, Patti Smith). The point is, style begins with you. Never forget to outfit your inner superhero.

Day 83 – Friday

Ena - Day 83

Ena: Today is Friday.  I’m sure you already knew that, but I wanted to say it anyway.  Today is also the first day that I have worn my new-to-me maxiskirt.  I picked up this skirt while thrift shopping in Palm Springs with my Grandma a few weeks back and I really like it.

A maxiskirt was on my thrift shopping wish list, something I was specifically looking for.  Maybe I’m just naïve, but I was completely shocked by how hard it was to find an acceptable maxiskirt; by that I mean one that does not have palm trees printed all over it or tassels hanging from the waist band.  I finally found this one at the Goodwill in Palm Desert.  I wasn’t completely sold on it and I almost didn’t buy it, but now I am so glad that I did.  I love the fabric (is it silk, satin, cotton, polyester…who knows), it’s soft and light and perfect for Spring and Summer.  Yay.

I am really looking forward to this weekend; it is supposed to be a bit overcast and chilly, perfect weather for some much needed couch time.  I am also looking forward to it because Saturday I am taking my GAB training course.  I will finally be able to begin my career as a Los Angeles Public Library volunteer, I am through the roof.  I can’t wait, I’ll tell you all about it on Monday.  Double yay.

Bina - Day 83

Bina: After yesterday’s pathetic display, I was determined to put on a better show today, if only for my own gratification. For one thing, I set 3 alarms and actually woke up at a proper time today. Secondly, I straightened and brushed my hair. Thirdly, I knew what I wanted to wear. I’m still a big fan of this little $20 dress and these bright turquoise tights. They make me happy just looking at them; they are springtime to me. And the colorful, sparkly bangles (though hard to see in the pics) are from India.

My Pops comes back from India next week. I’ve missed him, even though normally he would still be in Texas anyway. But it feels different when your loved one is on the other side of the globe as opposed to just a couple time zones away, especially when the world feels somewhat apocalyptic. It’s comforting to know he’ll be home with my Mom soon.

As you probably know, India still has a somewhat active caste system. We are Rajputs; Rajput is from the Sanskrit word Raja-putra (son of a king). Considered to descend from the ancient Hindu ruling warrior dynasties of Northern India, the Chauhans were one of the first Rajput clans to rise to prominence. Our reputation precedes us as hot-blooded and short-tempered. In fact, during colonization, the British deemed the Rajputs a “martial race.” They used this term to describe ethnic groups that were thought to be naturally warlike and aggressive in battle and to possess qualities like courage, loyalty, self sufficiency, physical strength, resilience, orderliness, a hard working nature, a fighting tenacity, and military strategy. The British recruited heavily from these “martial races” for service in the colonial army.

As I mentioned some characteristics from my Japanese lineage recently, I thought it only fair to share a glimpse of the other side of my coin. Sometimes I feel like such an anomaly – as if two very, very different cultures clashed and made me. I was born on a cusp; people seem to never be able to figure me out, ethnically or otherwise; astrological readers are befuddled. Sometimes, it seems, my existence just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe lineage and astrology is a bunch of hooey. Or maybe I’m just special – aren’t we all?

OR I AM AN ALIEN.

Day 82 – Thursday

Ena: Unlike Bina, today I have nothing to blame for my poor attitude and even poorer outfit; it is completely my fault.  I’m not sure if it’s lack of sleep or the full moon or my aching feet, but I was in a wicked mood this morning.  It was bad, the phrase “bee under your bonnet” comes to mind…though I have no idea where that bee came from or how it got under my bonnet.  Needless to say, today’s pictures are a disgrace, a very poor showing indeed.  I vow to try much harder tomorrow.

On a more positive note, yesterday a co-worker who has just returned from 5 months working abroad stopped Bina and me in the hall to tell us that he had noticed a marked difference in, “the way you two dress.”  Mind you, this person left prior to the beginning of this project and has only been back in the office for 2 days.  Our external transformation has been so dramatic that this person who hasn’t seen us in almost half a year noticed it immediately; so, I guess it’s true, we used to look baaaad…but we don’t anymore. 

P.S. More positive news, I don’t really wear bonnets – it’s just a metaphor. 

Bina: Okay, now I am the complete bonehead today!!! Blurg. This morning, my alarm went off at 6:45am. I thought I hit snooze; I thought I only closed my eyes for a second…the next thing I know, I open my eyes and it is 8:57am and I am supposed to be at work by 9. Wait, actually today I was supposed to be at work at 8! Ugh, what a maroon. I can only blame intense malaise, gloomy skies, and my own rampant silliness for this blunder.

Once I awoke, I only mildly panicked, sent an email to the office, cursed the useless cats for not waking me, then started stumbling around trying to get ready. It would have been much simpler if I could’ve just thrown on some sweats and called it a day, but no. Somebody had the brilliant idea to do a fashion photo blog for 100 work days. As I was hastily brushing my teeth, I remembered it was St. Patrick’s Day.  “Okay, fine, I’ll wear something green then,” I thought as I approached my closet, having put no prior thought into today’s ensemble. I ripped this dress from the hanger and threw it on, grabbed some accessories, quickly ran a brush through my hair. And here I am, still somewhat discombobulated. I don’t have any make-up on except for the few strokes of mascara I managed, and my hair doesn’t even look like I brushed it at all. So I present to you my Day 82 look: The Girl Who Overslept That Needs Coffee And A Hairbrush.