Love Chic

Cool Change

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Quick shoot at the airport before my trip to Seoul yesterday afternoon. It’s 8 degrees here when we arrived at night, but of course I couldn’t wear my jacket yet in the sweltering heat of Manila, heh. 

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A lot of firsts come with this, like the first time to (finally!) visit a favorite city, first time to travel with the whole family including cousins, and my first time out of the country on Holy Week.

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They say Lent comes in tandem with conversion—a change in attitudes, mindset, or principles. Sometimes, the change is temporary, like not eating meat or going on Facebook. Other times, the change is as profound as forming a new habit or subscribing to a different way of doing things. 

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Whichever the case, it’s a season usually associated with a somber and sobering kind of change. “Repent,” “penitence,” and “metanoia” become almost like buzzwords. As Christians, I realize that we’re supposed to spend this season reflecting on the Son of God made fully human, and the passion and death He had to suffer for our sins. But, whether or not one believes in His divinity, it’s hard to argue that Jesus was a highly intelligent, progressive, open-minded, and all-around cool person. As we journey towards becoming better persons, I’d like to believe He would rather we find happiness and delight in our hearts with the thought that we are so loved by God we were given His only Son, rather than guilt and anxiety and fear for all the wrongs we’ve committed and the punishment they deserve.

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I mentioned that there are many firsts about this Holy Week trip. I guess the most important of all is that for the first time, instead of the sadness Catholics seem “obligated” (for lack of a better word) to feel, I would rather we feel honored for the grace we’ve been receiving. Instead of a sacrifice borne out of penance or self-flagellation or self-deprivation, I would rather a commitment to give back and pay forward, all the love and kindness we experience. 

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Lent is all about change, but I’d like to think the things we do around it don’t have to be glum, compulsory, and consequently, unsustainable. We can be reflective and contrite and be doing them not out of obligation but with sincere and peaceful joy. ♥ 

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What I wore on the flight—laidback summery. Lemon yellow, grey and white colorblocking dress, Cole Vintage

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Even my suitcase was a fruity avocado green, subdued by an injection of white here and there. 

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Different shades. Grey shoulder bag, SM Accessories. 

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My two Pandora bracelets and Titan Raga watch, my go-to combination for when I don’t have a particular arm party in mind.

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Kitten-heeled pumps in grey and floral pastels, Forever 21. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Let me know what you think of this post by commenting below. :) Korea series coming soon—hope you have an equally delightful week ahead!

Sporadic

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We all have stuff we love to look back fondly on. In my case, it’s 2013—the first quarter was just full of people and events you never want to be mired in, followed by a remarkable transition for the better, and then everything went uphill from there.

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The reason I like looking back on that is I get to read about how things were, exactly 365.25 days back. This time a year ago, I was writing about "Araw ng Kagitingan" and Paulo Coelho and how my friend Lester, whose birthday it is today, came home from New York and paid me a surprise visit. 

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Looking back never fails to amaze me at how fate can surprise you. Nothing back then prepared me for the surge of way, way happier experiences and way, way better people that were poised to come into my life soon after, as if in exchange for all those awful ones. 

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Looking back makes me appreciate everything tenfold. I have everything and everyone I could ever need be happy and content, and every day, I’m inspired tenfold to work hard to make sure that it can only get better. It’s true what they say that we can only fully realize how far we’ve come when we never forget where we come from. :)

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Black and white sporadically spotted dress, Zara. 

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Contact lenses, Japanese Candy. Necklace, SM Accessories.

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The bag is a raid from my cousin Jeru’s girlfriend, Lana.

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Booties, Dorothy Perkins. The socks are a raid from my mom’s closet. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

Photos by Jeru Czar. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde. Feel free to post a comment below!

Time To Change

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A day I juggled my day job and blogging—shuttled from a business forum at the Hotel Intercontinental…

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…to Century City Mall for an awesome new brand launch, and back.

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Hype what I’m wearing on Lookbook here, vote for it on Chictopia here. Black top, Mango. Animal printed leopard skirt, discovered in a Balikbayan box of unworn clothes sent to our house years ago.

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Metallic shoulder bag, SM Accessories. A cute piece that could be worn with casual or party wear. Except I don’t party, so I just wear metallics even in daytime.

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Metallic gold flats, Ziggy & Zooey. I got these a couple of years ago, along with five other pairs from them, and they’re all still alive and kicking. Glad I got a pair in this versatile color.

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Love Chic key and heart pendant, Pulseras by Kim. And the reason for coming to Century City Mall: personalized wristwatch, Marc Coblen.

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Since its launch last year, Marc Coblen watches have been gaining a continuous buzz among the style-conscious, tastemaking set around the globe. Adorning the wrists of many a style-maker, Marc Coblen timepieces have become a quick favorite for their versatility—each basic piece can be changed to suit different lifestyles and moods by selecting and changing different watch straps and bezels.

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If there are two things I love in fashion, it’s (1) versatile pieces that (2) you can personalize. Naturally, this display at the Manila launch of Marc Coblen in TWG Century City Mall got me intrigued.

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First things first: you choose a base watch. They come in black, brown or white straps, and a variety of color combinations for the face. Black, white, gold, silver.

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Next, choose a second set of leather or silicon straps. 

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Needless to say, I took my time (pun inevitable) testing out different straps for my base watch. At first, I was going for emerald green.

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After a few more tries, I realized a classic camel strap would be easier to match with any outfit.

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Then, choose a bezel. The base watch I got was 42mm in diameter (the other sizes are 45mm and 50mm, and 42 is all my tiny wrist could take). I chose one encrusted in princess-cut Swarovski crystals.

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Done! Love how the camel strap complement the white and rose gold dial and the Swarovski crystals.

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This is why Marc Coblen is so cool. Designed by horlogerist Jordy Coblen of TW Steel watches, it’s the only brand of men’s watches designed for women (if you love wearing the watch of your dad, brother or boyfriend too, you know I mean).

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With interchangeability and convenience being at the heart of its design, Marc Coblen watches are the perfect style statement for any fashion-conscious urbanite. Be it casual, trendy, colorful, rugged or romantic, the style combinations are endless! Here’s a how-to video for choosing your own.

    

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Marc Coblen watches are brought to the Philippines by Swiss Prestige Inc. and are available at Century City Mall, SM Southmall, and selected Chronos, Swissgear and Wristpod stores.

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Thanks to my friends at Lucerne Group and Pix Republik for the fun day and the additional photos!

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What do you think of this outfit? How would you design your own Marc Coblen watch? Tweet me @shailagarde or write a comment below. :)

The Simple Things

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Hello! Finally a blog post after what seems like forever. I noticed some new names added to the followers list—welcome! Thank you for deeming this little space worthy of clicking that Follow button. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, so let’s ease in my “comeback” with something light and easy in lieu of my occasional thought-heavy posts.

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Hype what I’m wearing on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Checkered jumpsuit, Dorothy Perkins. Love how this one-piece can be made to look on either the girly or androgynous side, depending on the shoes and hair. 

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Necklaces, SM Accessories. Layered the leaves and rose together to make it more interesting.

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Charm bracelet, Pandora. Raga watch, Titan. Whenever I want to keep my accessories simple, this is my go-to pairing.

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Shoulder bag, SM Accessories. Multicolor manicure, Nail It. A pop of pastels injects a bit of femininity into an otherwise androgynous and monochromatic outfit.

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Socks and buckled zip-up boots, Topshop. I’ve been wearing these to death lately.  Without the socks, they can look like sandals. They’re not as hardcore and heavy as legit combat boots, and they definitely pack a punch in the style department. They add a little height, too.

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These photos were taken by my mom when we went to Iloilo a few weekends ago. We were really just having lunch, but the backdrop was too nice to pass up.

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Midway is this farm-market-restaurant in Passi City, Iloilo, reminiscent of the ones we’re familiar with in Tagaytay and Cavite.  

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It’s very much a country-home type of setting. (The banner says, “Grilled Pizzas.” More on that later.)

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The entrance is a small fish pond leading to a lanai.

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To the left is the gift shop and grocery.

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The items they sell are mostly organic and farm-fresh goods.

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To the right is the indoor restaurant. There are couches and daybeds, plus some quirky trinkets from the past such as an old-school, coal-powered flat iron. It’s a shame they closed it that day, as they usually do when there isn’t any function or there aren’t a lot of people around.

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When the restaurant is closed, the backyard is where diners go.

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Huts with tables and hammocks. 

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Those three people would be my dad, mom and my uncle who’s now based in California.

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Most of the ingredients in their food offerings come from their own backyard. Like these lettuces. I didn’t get to take photos of the other areas of the farm though, as they were about to close for the day. 

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Grilled pizza. We had about three of these, and still wanted more. 

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I would say Midway’s halo-halo is the best I’ve tried so far, and that’s saying a lot, since I live in Pampanga which is supposedly the home of the best halo-halo. 

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I couldn’t resist running of to the playground by the lettuces and sampling the mini climbing wall. This visit to Midway served as such a happy reminder that all we really need in life are the simple things: family, honest-to-goodness food, and a clear-skied day.

Let me know what you think of this post by tweeting me @shailagarde or writing a comment below! April is Love Chic’s anniversary month, and Love Chic is on its fourth year, so y’all better stay tuned for the upcoming awesomeness. :)

What’s Your Essence?

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"What is essential is invisible to the eye." Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s words (let alone his name) weren’t easy to spell out for me as a seven-year old reading "The Little Prince." Of course, through the years we come to realize that the seemingly simple, innocent, unassuming stories of our childhood turn out to be filled with meaning. And on essence, Saint-Exupéry couldn’t have made more sense.

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I’ve written about the five elements that make up everything around us: the essences of the physical world. At the launch of jewelry brand Pandora’s Essence Collection February 26, it was all about the elements that make up the essence of womanhood.

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What they’re made of, from left to right. Above: synthetic ruby, oxidized sterling silver, shiny sterling silver, lapis lazuli, milky quartz, cubic zirconia, smoky quartz, cubic zirconia, amethyst, cubic zirconia, carnelian. Below: rose pink moonstone, synthetic hematite, magnesite, grey moonstone, sterling silver with tree bark texture, sterling silver with Mandala pattern, faceted sterling silver, cubic zirconia, green aventurine, aquamarine, smooth sterling silver, black spinel. 

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The inspiration: “Throughout history, women continually ask and search for meaning in their lives. Today, more than ever, projected truths about happiness and contentment are shallow. Rather, there is a yearning for deeper meanings and true values that can define us and, in turn, show the world who we really are.” And to give meaning to this new collection, the brand chose four Filipinas whose stories are revealed through the values that made them the women they are. 

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There’s model and host Kim Jones whom I met while producing for “Etcetera.” Entrepreneur Amina Aranaz-Alunan who was with Chalk when I wrote for the magazine, and whom I’ve interviewed for her Aranaz bags, School of Fashion and the Arts, and Rags2Riches. Lawyer and host Karen Jimeno-McBride who holds three degrees including a Master of Law in Harvard Law School and juggles eight jobs. And prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, whose passion for the dance arts is unrivalled. Together with my friend Krista Garcia of Rappler, I got to sit down with them before the show on the charms they chose as women of essence. Portraits by Ramon Tan Mangila of PIx Republik.

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Kim: Love, Faith, Happiness. “They work so well together. Obviously it’s a season in my life where all of these are coming into play right now, with the [upcoming] wedding [to actor Jericho Rosales], and faith is my foundation in my life. And when I saw that they had these, it was just the perfect combination of all three.”

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Amina: Prosperity, Peace, Joy. “It’s when I have a vision of what I want to to do and achieve. When I see it, I work at it. When I pursue a dream, idea, when I see it happening, flourishing, when I see other people benefiting from it, enjoying it, being able to pursue their own goals and dreams through what I started dreaming of.”

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Karen: Wisdom, Confidence, Energy. “They’re what’s really appropriate in my profession. Knowing that I’ve equipped myself with the skills I need to pursue my goals gives me confidence, but then it’s complimented by wisdom which is recognizing that you don’t know everything. There are a lot of things you don’t learn by just going to school—a lot comes from actual life experiences. I juggle six to eight jobs and it requires a lot of energy. My most important job, however, is being a good wife, daughter, sibling and friend.”

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Lisa: Hope, Strength, Passion. “Passion is dance, and ballet. It’s my whole life and it’s what’s driven me this far, up to now in my old age. Strength—not just physical but spiritual and mental strength that comes with the discipline, it comes with the work ethics and everything that is involved with keeping it together. Hope, because what is life without hope? I have always been a very optimistic, positive person. I’ve always been someone that looks up at the bright side of any situation and how you can move forward and how you can keep on improving.” 

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Working together with Krista on the interviews was a fun throwback to our time as co-producers in ETC. I get many event invites, but these days, I only get to attend a special few. For an afternoon of style and substance at this launch, I’m glad I went with someone who possesses equal amounts of both. 

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Some of us were given our own sterling silver bracelet. I thought it fitting that Pandora is Greek for “all-gifted.” 

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In the show was this beautiful tree with fruits hanging. 

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Bearing the names of the 24 essences in the collection, the fruits were ripe for the picking, so to speak. Everyone with a bracelet was asked to go up to the tree and pick one.

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I spotted a few: Courage, Happiness, Trust, Loyalty, yet for some reason, I kept searching for the essence that would speak to me. And then, hanging in its lonesome was this. Stability. One of the best gifts I’ve received and have been happily working to keep.

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Host Angel Jacob then revealed a beautiful twist: we would be going home with the charm representing the essence we chose.

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Krista picked Happiness. On the box: “Happiness. Let the feeling fill you, body and soul.” Perfect for her easygoing personality.

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On the box: “Stability. An inner foundation that supports all that comes.” 24 cubic zirconia stones form an unbroken circle of sparkling stones that expresses the importance of stability in life.  

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That makes two Pandora bracelets for me! I absolutely love how dainty they look, even when stacked together. More importantly, I love how each one of these charms has an embedded essence.

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Some ways to style the charms. Maybe someday!

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What I wore. I’ve worn this dress before and I wanted to show how accessories, hairstyle and shoes can change a look despite wearing the same piece. And yes, this color is a favorite. Lace halter skater dress, Crazy Over Daisies. Peep-toe heels, Janylin. Bag, Nine West. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here

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I’d love to get your thoughts via Tumblr reply, Tumblr ask, Disqus comment, or tweet @shailagarde :) What’s your essence?

Wear these to your school dance

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I was asked by Beautybook to write about what to wear to Prom (or Grad Ball, or whatever you call your high school dance). Instead of just an article, I decided to take on the challenge myself: put together a head-to-toe look on a student-friendly budget.

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I started around 10 o’clock in the morning and gave myself until the afternoon to cram everything, and this is what I came up with. And since I have no dance to go to, I’m giving away this dress as a personal gift to my high school readers. Read more for details.

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Icy blue strapless sweetheart high-low tulle lace dress with gold high-waist bow belt, Viola at The SM Store. Gold embellished evening sandals, Gibi. 

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Gold clutch bag, sparkly drop earrings, and floral bangle, all SM Accessories. Multicolor pastel nails, Nail It.

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I explain in my Beautybook article what silhouettes suit which body type, and what colors suit which skin tone. I chose the cut and color of my dress based on my petite frame and summer skin tone. 

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I also answer a question I get a lot on my Tumblr Ask: how to figure out what shoes and bag to wear with an outfit. 

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In this case, I followed a theme: sparkly, icy blue, gold (because “Frozen" is amazing). I pulled the color and fabric of the shoes from the satin belt, while the metallic clutch goes with the glitter of the dress. The bangle is inspired by a Prom corsage and matches my pastel nails. The pieces are complementary rather than matchy-matchy.

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Instead of going to the salon, I went with DIY makeup (check out my tutorial on the basics here). A basic smoky-eye with brown and gold eyeshadows blended together, no falsies, romantic blushing look, natural lips. Contact lenses, Japanese Candy. For the hair, I went with soft waves instead of an updo for a fresh and fun look—it’s high school, and you have the rest of your life to look older!

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What do you think of this look? Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Read the rest of my tips for your body type and skin tone, plus Prom hair and makeup tutorials here

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If you or someone you know is my size, join my little giveaway :) You must be following me on Instagram, Twitter and/or Tumblr. Reblog this entry, or Instagram/tweet a collage of two of my photos with this caption: “www.lovechic.com.ph - I want to win @shailagarde’s Prom dress!” Then, write a Disqus comment below with the links to your post(s) as well as why you want this dress. On March 10, Monday, I’ll choose the winning answer and post it as the “Featured Comment” right below this entry. :) I’ll also announce it on Twitter. Happy weekend!

Photographed by Anton Holmes at 22 Prime, Discovery Suites.

You can find better

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I love my job. I get to do the things I liked doing as a freelancer, but on a paycheck that allows me to spend on myself, my loved ones, and those who could use a little push, as a way to pay it forward.

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It’s not just the material rewards though, or the opportunities for traveling and learning from successful industry leaders and inspiring innovators who care more about substance and less about shallow popularity contests. It’s not just about the flexible lifestyle it has afforded me, or the mentors and friends I’ve gotten to meet who helped reinstate values and virtues I seemed to have forgotten about. Sure, the benefits are awesome. But I love my job for what it represents.

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For the eight years following graduation, I pursued all the creative things I’m passionate about: writing, fashion, videos, the arts. No doubt I learned and enjoyed a lot. I felt like I could do it forever—that I can never find anything better. I had this stubborn, furious aversion to working in corporate, because I didn’t like feeling curtailed: nine-to-five, dress code, cubicle confinement, bosses. 

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Thankfully, being forced out of everything we worked to achieve leaves us considering choices we previously deemed out of the question. I finally gave in to my dad's years-long wish of seeing me fulfill my potential on a more stable career path, in a job that requires more than a pretty face or a skinny figure or awesome style or decent social skills. A job that, in addition to allowing me to pursue creative passions, actually stretches me. It's like being on both sides of the green grass. Or having your hand in both cookie jars, if you can relate to baked goods more than to animals of pasture.

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So while I certainly don’t regret my decade of frolicking in freelance, and have huge respect for my brilliant colleagues in the creative field, right now I am perfectly content in my ergonomic chair, waiting for the driver to take me to the airport to fly home after another productive week. I hope that whenever you feel like settling, be it for a friend or a relationship or a job simply because you don’t think can find better, this story would remind you: yes, you can.

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Leopard print top, The Berries. Pencil skirt, Mango. Pumps, Parisian. Necklace, rings, bangle and handbag, SM Accessories. Manicure, Nail It Salon.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

Knitpick

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Still reveling in this lovely weather. What better way to do so than with layered knits and boots? Dress, Blind Clothing. Jacket, American Eagle Outfitters. Boots, Kohl’s. Crossbody bag, Mango. Lookbook here, Chictopia here. Thanks to the glorious chilly air, it’s a great outfit to wear to a music festival like Jacko Wacko.

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I’m co-presenting Jacko Wacko, spearheaded by the De La Salle University Manila’s Englicom org, one of the oldest in the school (it’s their 50th Anniversary!) with the aim of promoting cultural harmony and social awareness through nation building. I think it’s great when student orgs set out to produce projects that promote young Pinoy talent. If you would like two (2) tickets to Jacko Wacko, tweet the event poster: “@shailagarde @elcjackowacko I want to go to #elcjackowacko at Circuit Makati on Jan 25!” and ask your friends to retweet. Most retweeted one by Friday, January 24 at 5pm, gets the tickets. I’ll count by clicking on your tweet, so please make sure it’s not a private account. Thanks to Charlyn of Englicom for inviting me a part of this! 

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A couple of other thanks: Lewis & Pearl Cologne sent me these gifts. A pretty roll-up eco-bag with illustrations of Parisian landmarks, personalized travel journal with my name on it, a handy travel cosmetics case, and enough Lewis & Pearl colognes and powders to last a while. Being into European icons, these are really appreciated! Now all I have to do is pick a scent to wear to Jacko Wacko.

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Also got this present in the mail from Skechers. They recently launched their underwear collection designed for today’s young and active woman. The line features fun patterns, classy neutrals, and playful color combinations to match whatever mood you’re in. Thanks to Jenny of Sckechers for this cute trio!

If your school org or brand has something new to share, drop me a line and I’ll see if I can spread the word. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Let It Go: False love

It’s been a while since my last Disney cover. Let’s kick things off with this. :)

"Frozen" is easily my favorite Disney movie. Sure, it is funny, and heartfelt, and is quite the antithesis to old-school Disney princess movies which quite frankly I am not a fan of. But more than these, the movie goes against the miseducation of girls everywhere that a man’s love is all they could wish for, all they should work for, all they would need to live happily ever after. It puts forth what true love means: not kissing someone asleep (or poisoned to death) because you were struck by their beauty, not dancing with someone all night and then deciding you want to marry them just because they were the prettiest glass-heeled girl in the ball, not pretending to be a prince when you’re really a street rat, or pretending to be human when you’re really a mermaid, just to be liked by the other person.
   
True love is searching for your own identity, seeing what you’re capable of and accepting yourself regardless of what others expect from you. It is persevering, knocking on someone’s door for as many times as it takes for them to open their heart. It is, as Olaf says, putting one’s needs before yours in sacrifice. It is the love of family, of real friends who appreciate you for all that you are. When you have this, there’s no need to be afraid, to care what others are going to say, to fear rejection or judgment. True love is what remains when even the charming prince turns out to be the villain.
    
Hug your true loves today! :)

Subscribe to my YouTube here. Request for a song or any video here. Share your thoughts below. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde.

Love Chic mail

Send me your questions and letters via Tumblr Ask! Here are some that I can answer publicly :)

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I rarely use lipstick. If I’m wearing one on a post, it’s usually borrowed from someone during the shoot. Haha. For eyebrows, I use The Face Shop’s Design My Eyebrow pencil and Color My Eyebrow mascara. That’s all the makeup I put on most days. Here’s a tutorial

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Sakto lang iyan kasi panganay ako, haha. Salamat! 

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Hi Mira, I checked out your blog and I have to disagree that it isn’t good enough. I think you’ve established what your personal style is—can’t say the same for myself when I was your age, and having a solid sense of style is key. My suggestions would be to keep doing what you’re doing, interact with other bloggers, and learn as much as you can about your passions (clothes, makeup, graphic design) online. Having many readers is awesome, but it takes time and can’t be forced. Just make sure you like what you put out there, that you think it’s good enough—others are bound to notice. Good luck!

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I don’t know if it was aired on ETC Vibe, but yeah, I hosted a movie screening for them. Thanks!

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Hi Allyzon, my current theme is actually a combination of my previous themes! I’ve had about five so far, and I customized by getting my favorite features from each one and using Rank & File as my “base.” Hope that helps. Have a blessed 2014 too!

Ask, say or request anything here. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde :)

Keep walking

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“Let it go, it’s not worth it.” The choice between revenge and forgiveness was the theme of last Sunday’s church readings. It’s a universal struggle that anyone, believer or not, can relate to: when we are wronged, the immediate and overwhelming impulse is to seek “justice.” To retaliate and show that we won’t take crap from anyone. Yesterday in particular, Luke describes how Jesus’ friends want so badly to punish the people of Samaria when they refuse to welcome and let him pass through their town to get to Jerusalem. “Want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” James and John offer. Ever cool-headed, he simply tells them to walk away, and they quietly take a detour and move along without the drama.

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Of course, when you’re a peace-loving guy who advocates “Turn the other cheek,” conciliatory meekness is the clear choice. For the rest of us though, this often proves difficult. Retreating or giving in is tantamount to admitting defeat. Nobody wants to be a pushover, a coward, a loser. But the point isn’t that we be afraid and let people walk all over us, or that we be martyrs and let people mistreat us even when we have aces up our sleeves and bullets in our barrels that we can use to fight back. The point is that we choose our battles, fight only the ones worth winning and let others “win” the rest.

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The point is that we see the bigger picture: a year from now, will it matter? Is it a productive use of our time and effort? Will it make us any happier or less hurt? Betting from experience, the answer is a resounding no. It would simply never end, maybe even get worse. There are people and causes far more substantial and worth pursuing.

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Today, the first of July, marks two other firsts: first day on my new job as the media and communications executive of a private corporation, first time to take on work in the corporate world. It’s a perfect mix of what I love about freelance creative work (telling stories, advocating Filipino industries, being in control of my own time), and the perks of a full-time job (financial security, travel opportunities, employment benefits). Looks to be an exciting new chapter to look forward to.

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The first half of this year was a roller-coaster ride of uncertainties, realizations and wake-up calls—what precise timing that the second half should begin with things looking up and falling into place.

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As it happens, when we prudently walk away from a troubling past and never look back, we give ourselves the gift of a future filled with much, much better things. :)

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Photos by Don Michael De Leon of Happyfingers Photography. Outfit details: Essenxa ruffled top, Blanc et Noir paisley pencil skirt, Parisian shoes, SM Accessories. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

No fuss

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A typical weekend (i.e. lazy) look: slip-on dress, minimal accessories, bed hair and basic eye makeup. Takes five minutes. :) Photos by Don Michael De Leon of Happy Fingers Photography. Check out his works on Tumblr too.

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The thing I like best about Don’s photos is how he captures portraits and textures of things as they are, as opposed to trying to make them always look picture-pretty; as a result, his shots have an honesty and “realness” to them that one rarely sees anymore. For our first shoot, I told him I’d go fuss-free and just let him take the reins, see what comes of it.

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I mean, sure, there are days that require planning your look in advance, getting all dolled up and dressed to the nines. But to be honest, I quite enjoy days like these. Days when there is no itinerary, when the agenda is anything and the destination is anywhere.

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Days when you can just relax with people you’re comfortable with, not having to think about what to say or how to act. When you can just goof around and not care so much.

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As children, we didn’t really make a big fuss about the many things people make a fuss about now. With homework done and nap time duly over, we would spend our after-schools and weekends playing, roaming the neighborhood on bikes or skates or just our slippers. It was day in and day out of living simple happy lives, free from bouts of overanalyzing and instant-replays of our mistakes, and the inner struggles between our childlike honesty and society’s dictums of propriety. Something I personally miss about the nineties.

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Well, we may not play taguan (hide-and-seek) or langit-lupa-impiyerno (heaven-earth-hell) or agawan-base (capture the flag) in our ratty old clothes anymore, but on a rare day of respite like this, we can let our hair down and leave the fussing for another day. •

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Outfit details: Kashieca shift dress, SM Accessories earrings and ring. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

   

Speaking of letting our hair down, here’s a song about not worrying even when sometimes, we get things wrong or feel afraid. Played on a pink ukulele for added happiness. Enjoy! :)

His and hers

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Doing a different kind of matchy for Father’s Day! I waited for my dad to get dressed and then patterned my outfit to his.

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Yes, my penchant for themed outfits stems from childhood. On special occasions, or just whenever we feel like being corny, my family would go out dressed in matching colors or a motif of some sort. It’s a good thing my dad has a lot of pink and light blue shirts. Haha.

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Favorite colors aside, my dad and I have a lot of things in common. People say I got my quirky laughter and witty humor from him, which I always take as a huge compliment because my dad can really work up a crowd. I’ve never heard of a seminar he spoke at where people weren’t held captive by his stories, spontaneous jokes and occasional bursts of song-and-dance. He’s a quick study, able to do a little bit of everything and has a seemingly bottomless arsenal of general knowledge, and I hope I’m a little bit like that too.

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One of the things my mom loves about my dad is how his eyes sparkle with intelligence. I agree; my mom was the one who mostly taught me English, Humanities and creativity while my dad was the one who taught me Maths, Sciences and analytical thinking. I remember him teaching me two-digit division when I was five! I hated it at the time, but now I wish I paid more attention. Haha. My books back then were filled with circled words: whenever we came across a term I wasn’t familiar with, he would encircle them with a pencil and scribble its definition. It wasn’t all left-brained for him though. He’s a compelling storyteller, a darn good cook and a sweet nurse: I grew up practically living in a hospital due to weak lungs, and even though there were many things I wasn’t allowed to eat or do (e.g. watching cartoons would make me laugh, and laughter would set off an asthma attack), I never felt like I had a deprived childhood, because Papa was always there singing for me, reading to me, carrying me, bringing me everywhere. Then until now, there’s always something to be learned just hanging around him: you would drive by a city and he would tell you a building’s history. You would listen to music and he would tell you trivia about the artists of that genre. You would eat at a restaurant and he would tell you how a particular dish is prepared depending on the region. Sometimes I would doubt the veracity of his stories or assume it to be one of his poker-faced jokes, but then I research about it and they turn out to be true. Long before National Geographic and Discovery Channel, we’ve had our own live version.

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The one quality of my dad that I aspire most though is his remarkable resilience. Looking at him now, one probably wouldn’t be able to guess what he’s been through. Think of some telenovela plots you can remember and then mix them up: riches-to-rags childhood, growing up with an absentee father at the care of relatives in Iloilo while his mom worked as a labandera (laundrywoman) in Forbes Park, working as an ice candy vendor in the marketplaces of Caloocan and then as a construction worker in Merville among many other odd jobs while paying his way through school. His career is just as storied: he’s held high positions in the banking, foreign service, business and power industries and has had more economic ups-and-downs than a Ferris wheel, but he plowed through and bounced back each time. He’s been mistaken for a CPA, lawyer, professor, restaurateur, and an engineer of all sorts, because even if he is none of the above, he displays unparalleled excellence in any field he gets into. I may sound like I’m a gushing daddy’s girl, but if you meet him, you’d know what I mean. He has his own version of “Bloom where you are planted” that I often share in my own talks: “Ang diyamante, kahit ihalo mo sa buhangin, kikinang at kikinang pag nasinagan ng araw.” (A true gem, even when hidden in the sand, shines brightest under the sunlight.) He teaches us by words and example that though you can’t always control your circumstances, you can always control your attitude and make the best of any situation.

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Despite knowing all these, many times in the recent past I’ve found it easier to give in to emotions or laziness or self-doubt. When confronted with daunting situations, I would forget to stop and ask myself, “What would Papa do?” and go on to act however I felt like acting. But I take comfort in another thing my dad likes to tell me: “You can only be who you’re not for so long. You won’t be able to sustain it, and sooner or later you’ll be forced by circumstance to go back to your core.”

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I’d like to think I’ve been on my way back to being who I’ve always been supposed to be. After all, I am his daughter, and he is my dad.


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Outfit details: Lee Cooper sleeveless button down, Betty flap shorts, Crocs strappy slip-ons, SM Accessories bag.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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I’d love to hear your stories too, so go ahead and leave a comment below.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there!

Independence

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Philippine Independence Day, June 12th, has drawn to a close. I originally planned on precluding myself from writing about it, as I can be quite impassioned when delving into nationalistic topics. Instead, last night, I chose to wear love-of-country, titled it “Flagged,” completely veered away from touching on anything historically relevant, and promptly proceeded to give a rather vapid and unnecessary description of how the styling was a lighthearted tribute to our nation’s colors.

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I figured that at best, chances are everyone’s news feeds have been inundated with reflections on the current state of the country and how nothing has really changed much from the times we were under rule, reflections and sentiments that are bound to last only until the 19th (Jose Rizal’s birthday). At worst, chances are it was just another holiday for many, a one-day respite from the rigors of every day life. Would it make a difference to try and stir up fervor in many a jaded heart?

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But today I remembered Rizal’s words: “I die without seeing dawn’s light shining on my country… You, who will see it, welcome it for me. Don’t forget those who fell during the nighttime.” Like an itch you can’t help but scratch, I couldn’t shake off the unease that I seemed to be doing a disservice to a national holiday (barely) observed once a year. So I rewrite this in honor of those brave heroes, famed and unsung, who fought so hard to give the Philippines at least a semblance of freedom that day in 1898.

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I say semblance not to undermine any of their efforts, but because had certain things been done differently by the nation’s policymakers at the time, things might have also turned out differently: as we are taught in History class, the Filipino revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo made this declaration of independence from the Spanish colonial rule on June 12th in his ancestral home in what is now Kawit, Cavite. The flag made by Marcela and Lorenza Agoncillo, together with Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa, was unfurled, and Julian Felipe’s Marcha Filipina Magdalo (what would later on be given Jose Palma’s words and turned into the melody of Lupang Hinirang) was played. Despite much pomp and circumstance though, neither Spain nor the United States recognized this declaration: Spain ceded the Philippines to America for $20 million in the Treaty of Paris. It marked the end of the Spanish-American war, and the beginning of the Philippine-American war.

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In his El Fili, Rizal wrote that a man holds on to his independence when he retains his own way of thinking. My humble thoughts on this: I’m not a big fan of Aguinaldo. Heh. I’m writing this from memory and from discussions with my dad, and I will reserve the rest of my Aguinaldo stories for Bonifacio Day, but for June 12th, what I know is that after the Philippine revolution broke out in 1896, the Spanish entered into an agreement with the revolutionaries and Aguinaldo voluntarily went into exile in Hong Kong. He came back in May 1898 during the Spanish-American war after the defeat of Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay and enlisted a brilliant paralytic lawyer, Apolinario Mabini as his adviser. Mabini has said the declaration was premature and should involve the consensus of the majority. He was also against the fact that it placed the Philippines under American protection. But Aguinaldo insisted on establishing his “independent” dictatorial government, only to later on issue a statement accepting America’s sovereignty over the Philippines when he was captured. Centuries later and the stories still sound familiar, eh?

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I guess this is why I get impassioned when talking about this. This country and its people can become so much more, can enjoy so many possibilities, if only we recognized everything that we are and everything that we have. If only we learned from our past and resolved to do things differently. If only our politicians listened more to our intellectuals: our Rizals and our Mabinis, taking into careful consideration their analyses and educated opinions. If only the small people and the soldiers and those working behind the scenes—the Agoncillos and Herbosas, were given as much importance as the grandstanding generals and leaders. If only these leaders sincerely considered the welfare of the vast majority in making their decisions. If only we held our country in a higher regard, loved ourselves a little bit more, and worked harder to uphold our dignity. Then, we could truly be a people with independence.
   

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Outfit details: Weekender top, custom skirt, CMG platform wedges, Anne Klein purse, SM Accessories necklace, belt and earrings, Japanese Candy contact lenses.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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My mom, who among many other things is my photographer and hairstylist, helped me out with an updated version of your typical Filipiniana updo.

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Save for the hair, I avoided the updated-Filipiniana look because that’s pretty much always done. Let me know your thoughts—whether about the topic or the outfit. I’d also love to hear how you would style your own tribute.

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? :)