Love Chic

Autumn

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Five months ago, I wrote “Transition.” It was the middle of spring, and although I live in a country that only has sunny and rainy days, the events in my life seemed to be changing the way the seasons do. I had just come from a harsh and dark winter, and in time, the cold melted and ushered in a lush, vibrant spring where everything was growing.

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In the summer, I moved on to a fresh new start and decided to “Keep Walking.” When I turned my back on all the baggage weighing me down and the garbage bringing out the worst in me—the things and people that were keeping me from being my best and most genuine self—everything became clear as day. That “Clarity" made me take responsibility for the choices I made in the past couple of years. I saw clearly the short-term consequence: a wounding, a purging, an emptying out. 

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I also saw the long-term consequence: a healing, a rediscovering, a filling up with real love and genuine happiness. Now, it is autumn. The season for shedding the bits and pieces that aren’t needed, in order to make room for an eventual and inevitable rebirth. For more amazing challenges and experiences. I’d like to believe this is the season I have come full circle. ♥

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Outfit details: Shop Enna olive green one-shoulder bodycon dress. I enrolled in 360 Fitness Club last September and aside from most obvious reason being to take good care of my health, clothes like these are why.  

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Japanese Candy green contact lenses, SM Accessories emerald green earrings, Silverworks aquamarine pendant.

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The birthstone for March. I also wore it with this sporty outfit.

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Pandora charm bracelet. The silver flower also has an aquamarine stone, while the Murano beads are in the same color. The meaning of this bracelet and all its charms are on this post

Hype this above and vote on Chictopia here.

Smile like you mean it: The Killers tickets giveaway!

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Hello! After another fun week out of town for work, I’m back with a new blog post—a hot “The Killers in Manila” tickets giveaway! Read on to find out how you can score them.

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One of their songs that I really like is “Smile Like You Mean It,” for when things don’t go the way we expect. It’s a catchy tune for a somber self-reminder to try and muster a smile no matter what curveballs life throws our way. To always look on the bright side. For me, The Killers really killed it (hehe) with that one.

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It may seem simplistic and clichéd, but it really does work. Studies have been made that show that when you smile, even when you don’t necessarily feel like smiling, your facial muscles send signals to your brain that you are feeling happy.

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Your brain then releases chemicals that in turn makes you genuinely feel better about whatever it is that’s bothering you, and your mood gets turned around.

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It’s one of the few instances when it’s okay to “fake it ‘til you make it.” So go ahead and smile! It’s not known all over the world as the universal best medicine for nothing. Speaking of which, here’s something to smile about. Who wants tickets?

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The Killers performs on Thursday, September 26th at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and I’m giving away free passes to three (3) lucky winners, courtesy of SM Accessories. One gets a VIP ticket, while two readers each get an Upperbox A ticket.

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Clarity

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I write this from the balcony of my hotel room overlooking a ridge whereupon bright city lights are sprawled as far as the eye could see, twinkling and substituting for the stars that have opted to go into hiding this rainy night. The breeze is the kind of cold that makes you long for a warm embrace or a fluffy hoodie (I have the latter), and ever so slightly smells of pine trees. Today was 11 hours of being on the road for ocular visits and meetings here in Cagayan de Oro, but I don’t feel tired at all.image

Let me tell you a secret—well, it’s not so secret actually. I can be quite stubborn when it comes to pursuing my passions. I graduated X years ago, but this is my first full-time job. I’ve always seen corporate work as very rigid and constricting, compared to working freelance where there are no dress codes, no time records, no company memos to adhere to. You get to do what you want, when you feel like doing it, where you want to do it and in whatever outfit you please. Never mind that there isn’t much economic stability and career sustainability—so long as you’re happy and following your heart, right?

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That was my mentality about pretty much everything else, not just career. So long as you follow your heart, everything else will fall in place. Inversely, if you do things you have to even when you don’t want to, your success won’t be as fulfilling. I saw it as a battle of the heart and the intellect, and I always wanted for the heart to win. But I’ve seen the glaring holes of this naive polarity in events of the past few years that it got me questioning. Does it really have to be one or the other? Can we not find a middle ground where we would be able to do the right thing as determined by the mind, and still be able to do the happy thing as determined by the heart? 

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As it turns out, of course we can. The confusion and frustration of not knowing which path to take, of waking up in the morning very unsure of our next step, of every uncertainty that comes with that familiar experience we all like to call quarter-life crisis… all of those things are not because we lack the skills, the knowledge, the experience or the clarity to find the answer to our questions. Chances are, the only thing we’ve been lacking all along is the willingness to listen to what that answer is. 

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My phone’s Viber just beeped: three messages. From my family’s group thread, my boss, and a friend, all asking about my day and telling me to rest well. The rain has mellowed down into a light drizzle. I can hear the drone of the TV in my room: Cesar Millan’s voice and the excited barking of small dogs. Except for these sounds and the humming of the airconditioning, everything is quiet on all fronts. How did it get from the noise and chaos of uncertainty to the peace and silence of clarity? I stopped being stubborn about always doing what I wanted, and tried this time to listen to my elders and do what I needed. I tried a path I never would’ve tried had events early this year not transpired.

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That choice led me to a job where I get to do everything that I’ve always known I wanted to do since I was five: write, tell stories, shoot pictures and videos, travel. There is a dress code, but the women of Suits have been teaching me how to dress up for work, and it’s been fun. It’s a nine-to-six job, but even when I’m not traveling like this week, my boss encourages me to get out of my desk every now and then and do whatever I need to get my creative juices flowing. “Less bureaucratic. I trust you,” I was told. The pay and perks are more than enough to enable me to pursue all my other passions and still have a lot saved for the future. Working for a company that values God, family and work in that order results in office people being nice and contagiously positive. Above all, I no longer wake up in the morning not knowing where I’m headed. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” :) It amazes me and my loved ones each day how much things in my life have changed for the infinite better, and if there’s anything I’d wish on others, it’s this same gift of clarity.

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Look details: Philosophy top, Veva Deeluxe pencil skirt, Janylin peep-toe heels, Euphoria chain necklace and bracelets, SM Accessories ring, Nail It nails, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

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Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde! Feel free to share your own thoughts by posting a Disqus comment below :)

Crossroads

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A friend and I would often talk about the tyranny of choice—when we come upon a fork in the road, we are barraged with a million questions: If I choose this, what would be the opportunity cost? What would I miss out on? If I choose the other, what would I regret? Which one is the right path, the perfect choice?

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I got into thinking about this yesterday at a lunch hosted by a friend who was leaving for Canada to continue his Masters. Soon, another friend is moving there to explore his options. Chalking them up to other friends who have been pursuing their chosen paths elsewhere in the world—in New York, in London, in Paris, I thought about the dreams they once shared with me that are now coming true, the challenges they are now encountering and overcoming, the successes they are now enjoying. The actions they have taken, whose consequences have led them to where they are right now.

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I also got into thinking about my own choices, my what if’s and if only’s in life. The person I dreamed of becoming when I was younger and the one I am right now, the paths I’ve taken that didn’t quite align with one another, the dissonant and unfocused thoughts within me that manifested outwardly. There were just too many options!

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I guess I’m what American psychologist Barry Schwartz calls in his book The Paradox of Choice, a maximizer. Simply put, a maximizer tends to overthink choices and overanalyze consequences. They like to consider each and every alternative and are worried about making the wrong choices. (The opposite of this is a satisficer, who makes a choice and sticks with it without looking back and worrying that there might be something better.) As a result of being a maximizer, I tend to always have realizations in hindsight: had I picked a different set of orgs in school, or hung out with a different set of people, or chosen a different course of study altogether, it would’ve vastly altered the landscape in which I move today. These thoughts aren’t imbued with hapless regret, mind you; I’m just really fascinated by the impact of one single choice. Knowing this has helped me become more focused and keep my goals aligned these days.

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One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about how the diversity of people’s identities and tastes gives way to this explosion of choice just as well. He was referring to food marketing, how we can’t always explain what we want, and how there isn’t one Platonic—perfect and universal—way to prepare a dish. But it also applies to everything else. We have so many choices because we are all so different, and we have embraced this diversity more so today than ever. In the past, people simply became what their parents were. Options for what to buy, where to go, which course to study, when and whom to marry, etc. were as limited as the exposure they had of the world outside their boundaries. Now our world is bigger. The forks in the road have more branches. It can be overwhelming, especially with the variety of choices available to us these days. But so long as we know what it is we want, we should be able to make the right ones.

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Outfit details: Philosophy Woman blouse, Miss Sixty jeans, Skechers hidden wedge sneakers, SM Accessories. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

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Feel free to say hi, ask anything or leave a comment below. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde and Love Chic on Facebook for more updates!

On the bright side

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We all have those days when things just feel slightly off-kilter for no apparent reason. You wake up with a weird fluttering in your stomach, and it’s not caused by the previous night’s sushi nor the good morning text your crush just sent you. It’s a sinking feeling, the cause of which you can’t really pinpoint—or maybe you can, and it’s just these minor annoyances clumped up into a big stress ball. So how do you quash that feeling?

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You look on the bright side of things. Yes, it sounds patronizingly trite, but it’s also tried and true. One of my best friends, Joanne, would always tell me something to that effect whenever I would go to her for things that bothered me. “Life is beautiful, Shai! I won’t allow you to wallow when there is so much to be thankful for!” I used to feel bad at how she wouldn’t join me in my life’s lamentations. When we’re young, we tend to shrug off these things and be oh-so-dramatic about our woes instead of choosing to be positive.

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But then it occurred to me that she’s one of the happiest, perkiest persons in my life and thought I’d give her attitude of gratitude a sincere try. Whenever an imaginary dark cloud loomed, I would list down every single thing I’m thankful for. Not just the significant, mind-blowing, life-altering ones, but even the most mundane (the amount of milk I poured was just enough to finish my Koko Krunch, all the stoplights I passed today were green, the barista spelled my name right on the cup) and those we sometimes take for granted (I arrived at my day’s destination safely, the elevator didn’t get stuck while I was alone inside, the waiter brought me water without being asked).

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It’s one of those practices that are childishly basic and stupefyingly logical, yet a struggle to get the hang of. There are times when writing down all those thank you’s feels like the last thing I want to do. But cliches are nothing if not notorious tenets of simple wisdom: the more I rebel against it, the deeper I sink into a rut. The more I keep at it, the better everything starts to seem. These days more than ever, I’ve come to know that while we will always be besieged with trials, we will also never run out of things to brighten our days once we start looking.

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Outfit details: Binkydoodles midriff top, Flights of Fancy palazzo pants, CMG platforms, SM Accessories bag, Dickies sunnies. Contact lenses from Japanese Candy.

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde!

Queens

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Giordano chambray button-down shirt and shorts, Forever21 Run DMC cropped tank top, SM Accessories bangle and ring, Nine West shoulder bag, Call It Spring platforms.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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Titled because Run D.M.C. is a hip-hop group from Queens, and because my best friend Lester lives there. This outfit is inspired by the street photos he sends me every day of stylish people and interesting scenes he comes across. It’s part-torture and part-motivation; before this year ends, I aim to finally see New York in person.

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Giordano released a line of colorful shorts for the summer and I picked out this light blue. It can Iook denim, cotton or chambray, depending on the piece it’s paired with.

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Got this button-down from Giordano in Hong Kong just because it was on sale when we went, but I think the Manila stores also have it.

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Thought I’d throw in a couple of non-poses. Haha. My mom continued clicking the shutter while I was taking off the button-down.

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Yes. On some days there’s many an awkward stance and last-minute clothes-fixing before arriving at a fairly decent shot.

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I’d love to know how you’d style this look differently. Maybe with sneakers instead of platforms, change the hair, choose another color button-down? Or we could just chat about whatever. How was your Labor Day holiday? Have you ever been to NYC? Do you like Run D.M.C.? Why is it so hot? Drop me a line here or leave a comment below :)

Music festival idea #3: Girly boho

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Candies sundress, Quirkypedia headband, SM Accessories necklace, Janilyn wedges. My third and last outfit idea for CloseUp Summer Solstice.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here

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As you may or may have not noticed in the first and second, there’s an undercurrent of green in this trilogy. I took it upon myself to work with three musts. First, the outfits must be from pieces I already own (you’ll see this dress in a future post; I wore it on the HK/Macau holiday).  Second, the outfits must call to mind words like summer, fresh, carefree, happy and young. And third, I must not take more than three hours from styling, to makeup and hair, to shooting everything. I like playing little games like that. Haha.

I was able to put together and shoot all three in one afternoon, and my awesome photographer (Hi Mama!) did an amazing job as usual. It was quick and so much fun!

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Don’t let the height of these lace-wrapped wedges fool you. They’re quite easy to walk in! I tried dancing in them as well and I think with a little more practice, they’re a good enough compromise for the vertically challenged who don’t want to wear flats to the festival.

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Let me know what you have in mind for your Summer Solstice outfit, or ask me style-related questions, here! Oh, and which one’s your favorite among the three? :)

Liam Hemsworth for Bench/ Summer 2013

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As I write this, the A/C and fan are on full throttle and bright sunlight gashes through the window despite the blinds being drawn. Seems like summer doesn’t just want its presence felt; it wants us to be looking it in the eye. Lol.

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No complaints there, though. It’s the best time to be donning breezy outfits, few accessories and barely-there makeup. Forever21 dress, SM Accessories, Parisian shoes.

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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Coinciding with the coming of summer is the coming here of one of today’s hottest actors, “Hunger Games” star and newest Bench endorser Liam Hemsworth. This is what I wore his lunch tête-à-tête with the media a few weeks back. 

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Here’s what went down with the hottie from Down Under as he talked “Hunger Games,” action films, beating up Thor and men’s fashion.

   
Shot with my DSLR on my right hand while my left hand was shooting with my iPhone (just to be sure). Haha! Just think of the shakiness and un-enhanced audio as your way of feeling like you were actually in the room—it was utter and enjoyable chaos.

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Here comes the sun

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Wearing summer’s bright jewel tones. Blind Clothing one-shoulder dress, SM Accessories bag and bracelet, Asian Vogue peep-toe heels, My Gilded Nest earrrings, Dickies sunnies.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, and Chictopia here. I prefer to just wear a few items at a time these days, instead of having on so many layers. Part of my aim to simplify life, perhaps.

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Best thing about this season? You can wear your favorite hues and pretty much get away with it. I just love color!

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This is what I wore to a casual meeting today. Since it was a hot afternoon, I thought I’d go all summery chic, wear a lot of brights and bare a little skin.

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Speaking of bare, I didn’t have the time or patience to do full-on makeup, so I just brushed on a little blush, put on some red lipstick and left the rest of my face alone. There’s a lot going on in my outfit already, plus sunnies make great concealers anyway. Haha.

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Pulled my hair into a messy bun because it’s the easiest lazy hair style to pull off, especially when your hair is the naturally wavy type that doesn’t like to be combed.

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I was never a fan of sunny days, but I noticed that a lot of the things I used to like and not like have been evolving. Lately, I’ve been thinking of the sun as something to look forward to.

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Light and Bright: AEO Launch

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Style meets casual comfort. Green tiered top from tiangge, Miss Sixty skinny jeans, Anne Klein shoulder bag, Call It Spring booties, SM Accessories ombré necklace and cuff bracelet.

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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A breezy top with jeans and boots is pretty much a manifestation of how I feel about the current transitional season. It won’t be long before temperatures start rising again in time for the summer, but I’ve always been a cold-weather girl so I wanted to hold on to whatever few and fleeting chilly spells we can still enjoy.

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Hot or not, I love how the bright colors of spring/summer can perk up any outfit and give it that carefree, casual feel. Check out this ombré orange necklace! It’s not really my favorite shade, but I’ve been wearing this piece a lot because it just seems to make my outfits happier somehow.

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Yellow and green are a different story—two colors I love wearing. Especially yellow. I got this bag from my aunt exactly a year ago during my birthday trip to the US and I’ve been wearing it to death every chance I get… I tend to do that with gifts from loved ones.

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If you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog (and I sure hope you are!) then you’ve also seen these boots a lot. Because really, what can’t you wear with a nice pair of brown boots?

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I seldom wear jeans anymore and usually go for shorts or dresses, but I’m glad I went with my gut that afternoon. As with most of my outfits, I put this together at the last minute to go and attend the Philippine launch of American Eagle Outfitters. Maybe because I’ve been a fan of the brand since college, my chosen neon-and-jeans ensemble was spot on with AEO’s Light and Bright Spring Collection.

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Technicolor fun

Candy stripes are the order of the day in Giordano, @PrimadonnaPH and photographed by Richard Romero. Vote for this look on Chictopia here.

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Giordano shirt, pink jeggings, Primadonna heels, SM Accessories bracelets and Ice Watch.

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Hype this on Lookbook here. Like Giordano on Facebook here.

Bipolar

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Such a trite, overused word that I try to avoid 99% of the time, but unfortunately an apt description for this post. 

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Francis Libiran for Myth mens button-down, Divisoria umbrella-print tank top and denim shorts, YRYS fishnet stockings, Adidas sneakers, Nine West bag, The Belle Soeurs accessories. Hype this on Lookbook here and vote on Chictopia here.

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We shot this yesterday at Rockwell, and it was really sunny one minute while the next minute brought rainshowers. So yes, bipolar: the top and shorts for the heat, the button down-turned-blazer and stockings for the cold.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for menswear and androgynous pieces, long before “boyfriend polo” and “fashion blogging” officially entered the style lexicon. When I was younger, this preference for masculine apparel was often subject to subtle mockery. But really, what’s not to like? It’s slouchy, comfy and loose, like being in house clothes albeit better-looking.

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Haphazard braids (the title of this post on Lookbook and Chictopia) that I did on the way while bored in traffic. Wore it for the rest of the day when Seph said he liked how it turned out. I thought I had colored my hair red evenly after the Funky Streaks experiment, but look at that! Turns out I still have four different colors in my hair. Cool.

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Basic Black iced tea (without ice lol) because I have a cough, colds and a croaking voice that sounds like a thirteen-year-old boy going through both puberty and a sore throat, but it’s almost a tradition to drive thru for Basic Black on errands days.

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Thanks to sisters Via and Vina Guerrero of The Belle Souers for these!

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I seldom bring bags because I’m lazy like that, but on days that I do, it’s usually small ones just for my wallet, keys and phones. This one from Nine West was a gift from my cousins in the US and it’s my favorite for being the perfect size, weight and color.

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Lace sneakers from Adidas that I seldom wear because I like them a lot and don’t want to wear them out! When I do my outfits, I usually have a running theme with some of the pieces. I wore these because my hair was in braids and my bag was pink (girly floral lace), but I had rugged shorts and fishnet stockings on (high-cut black sneakers). Don’t worry if you didn’t get that—it didn’t really make that much sense, haha.

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In the car just before braiding, taken with Instagram. Hihi. Follow me on there @shailagarde!

Yummy Yabu

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Chemistry shirt and skirt, Sebago shoes, Ringaholic rings, Bench watch, Hodge Podge necklace, Funky Streaks hair color.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

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Our lunch? Yabu, of course! It’s one of our go-to places for comfort food, never mind that it’s an hour’s drive away. We try to schedule whatever errands we can accomplish around the Ortigas area just so we have an excuse to dine at Yabu. This day was no different, except that instead of our usual orders, we decided to try the spanking new offerings on their menu. We started with the green mango shakes—they had the perfect sweet-sour-fruity-slushy blend! They also have watermelon and ripe mango, which we plan to try on our next trip.

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A Yabu meal isn’t complete without our favorite appetizers. Seaweed salad with ebiko and potato salad, now with egg added in the mix.

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Yabu’s chef is Master Kazuya Takeda, head chef of a popular tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo known as Tonkatsu Takeshin. He has created a line-up of Yabu Special Katsudon sets, which means you can only taste this kind of katsudon here and nowhere else. Each set is served with miso soup, Japanese pickles, unlimited cabbage with sesame dressing and a bowl of fruit. We ordered the Rosu katsudon, sprinkled with bonito flakes and topped with a sunny side-up egg. Just like everything katsu at Yabu, the meat was crispy on the outside, tender and flavorful on the inside.

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Yabu has also added a second dish to their original Mixed Seafood Katsu set. The Seafood Katsu Set 2 is composed of salmon, black tiger prawn, crab and oyster, and each katsu was cooked to perfection.

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We’ve been craving for cream dory katsu all week, so we also asked for it a la carte. Yum!

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One of the wonderful things about Yabu is this promise of perfection. We asked around and nope, they don’t really get any replacement requests—and it’s no wonder why! For very reasonable prices, you get premium food and premium service.

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For dessert, we had this Lava Cake topped with a scoop of Selecta green tea ice cream. We both love cake, cookies, brownies and other baked goodies that are chewy and creamy instead of crumby and crunchy—needless to say, we immediately fell in love with how soft and chewy this lava cake is! Each spoonful was filled with delicious fudge chocolate syrup; we planned to take a midway photo of how it looks after a few bites but before we knew it, we had bitten every bit. Oops!

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Down the hall to the restroom, you’ll see a whole wall filled with public displays of affection for Yabu.

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If you haven’t tried this place, you really should. We’ve brought about a dozen of our friends and family members here and they’ve since come back lots of times on their own. If you like katsu, you’re going to love Yabu.

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Manning up

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Francis Libiran for Myth men’s button-down, Chemistry dress, Schu brogues. Second outfit for the Myth menswear challenge. Hype this on Lookbook here and vote for our outfits on our joint Chictopia here.

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We had a meeting with some wonderful folks yesterday for an upcoming project. They requested that we come in our usual complementary outfits but without being too dressy, so they could take photos for their pitch.  

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I wore this men’s button-down over a sleeveless Chemistry dress. It was too long, so I left the last three buttons undone, tied the bottom of the shirt into a knot and tucked in the knot upward.

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Good thing the sleeves weren’t too long for my arms and could pass off as stylishly oversized, like a loose Korean top. Except of course with crisp details on the cuff, collar and pocket.

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This pair of brogues is beginning to be one of my favorites. Just change the socks or wear it without and your outfit’s “vibe” instantly changes. We thought “manning up” would be an appropriate title for tonight, not only because of the menswear element in this outfit post, but because of what’s currently going on in our lives. Lately, we’ve been rethinking and reassessing a lot of our major decisions the past few months. There are steps we have been afraid to take, fears we have been hesitant to overcome, hesitations we have been allowing to get the better of us. Maybe it has something to do with being in your mid-20s? That feeling of not being quite sure what you’re doing with your life, whether or not any of the things you do still make you as happy and fulfilled as they used to, and a nagging uncertainty that causes you to feel inadequate when you happen to compare yourself with people your age who seem to have come so far. This upcoming project is one of those things that we hope would help us get out of this current rut, something to take our minds off the shallow things and empower us to, well, man up. Already, we’re beginning to feel a change. We can’t wait for the better things to start coming.