Love Chic

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.

Seasons of love

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Today is one of the most polarizing universal holidays. Love on a normal day is equal parts bewildering, captivating and frustrating as it is; on Valentine’s Day, whatever effects it has on a person is magnified a hundredfold—single or not, happily taken or secretly, miserably so.

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I must admit that when I was younger (and thus more prone to angst), I wasn’t the biggest fan of February 14th. Sure, I was a hopeless romantic—still am, but it’s also why. I felt that Valentine’s Day tends to become a vehicle for lip service and phony, seasonal gestures of love, done more out of obligation and peer pressure rather than sincere intentions.

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During last year’s experience though, I realized it wasn’t so much the overcommercialized Valentine packages, the illicit competition among coupled-up friends trying to outdo each others’ gifts, or the woe-is-me posts of the single and uncommitted my newsfeed is inundated by.

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Last year, I got to experience Valentine’s the way I never have before, and it has helped immensely in how I view it now. I still remember vividly how my mom and dad drove me all the way from Pampanga to Manila so I could attend a brainstorming with my co-producers at the “Etcetera” office. The meeting (and my angst-ridden reverie) was interrupted by a knock on the conference room door: a rose, a grande Green Tea frap with generous sprinkles of chocolate powder on top, and a love letter from one of my best friends, Joanne. After work, my parents and I went to dinner and I got a second rose from my dad. 

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Those gestures were so simple, but felt as if a switch had been flicked on within me that made me see the light after twenty-something years of self-aware existence. Valentine’s Day wasn’t as trite, overrated, banal or clichéd as I’ve used to view it, after all: it was simply that I had been looking for the fulfilment it brings, in strictly romantic terms. And as I’ve gotten to learn to my utter benefit this year, romance tends to be the kind of love quickest to fade, while friendship endures so much more.

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In the beginning of last year, I felt like it wasn’t going to be my time. Everything I wished for, planned for, invested in, and forced myself to believe in was gone in a snap, and all I really hoped for then was to feel less miserable than I did. With expectations at an all-time low, I got the surprise of my life when, from that Valentine’s Day all the way up to today, all kinds of love started to pour in and turned my life around.

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This year, all the clichés and tired expressions have real meaning. I see how true it is that giving feels better than receiving—I’ve been receiving so much, and it’s when I get to pay kindness forward that the feeling of gratitude comes full circle. How true it is that you can’t give what you don’t have, or teach what you don’t know. How true it is that real love is friendship: looking after a person’s well-being and happiness while having enough self-worth to know what you deserve. Now I do. :)

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Warm hugs from Olaf!

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Dress and booties, Dorothy Perkins. Nautical striped cross-body bag, Aldo. Headband, leaf necklace and leaf bracelet, SM Accessories. Nails, Nail it. Contact lenses, Japanese Candy.image

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Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Let me know how your Valentine’s Day goes in the comments below, or tweet me at @shailagarde. 

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.

In Love

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Yup. 

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Literally. Cropped baby tee, Sugar Rush Closet. Distressed boyfriend jeans, 101 New York. Handbag, SM Accessories. Peep-toe heels, Figliarina. Baseball cap, New Era. Mens’ style watch, Timex. Nails, Nail It! 

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Bambi Chocolate contact lenses, Japanese Candy. All my contact lenses come from this lovely online shop because they work like instant makeup. On most days, all I need are a bit of eyeliner, mascara, and brow-cara. Click here for my tutorial series on everyday makeup.

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This was a cap-sleeved baby tee that I decided to DIY. I cut off the sleeves and trimmed the hem and neckline to turn it into a tank top. Click here for another, more elaborate t-shirt DIY project I did recently.

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My dad doesn’t own a single watch. He never wears watches, ever. Having no collection to borrow from, the only way I could fix my longing for a men’s watch was to look for one that would fit my wrist. Turns out Timex has ladies’ watches that look like men’s watches, except with cuter features. This one has a sun and moon design for AM and PM. 

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A Christmas present from my cousin. The colors reminded us of June 12. I could’ve easily worn it for my blog entry then. Heh. 

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Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde. Post a Disqus comment below, ask or say anything here. :) 

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 :)

Wildcard

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A wildcard is an opportunity out of the ordinary. In baseball, it gives an inside chance to non-division winners to make it to the World Series.

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In many other sports and competitions, it essentially means the same thing: a second “in,” a chance to redeem oneself despite failing to make it under normal circumstances.

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Many times in life too, we only either win or lose. And when we lose, there’s no going back. But every now and then, wildcard opportunities present themselves and offer a way back in.  

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When we tasted the devastating bitterness of a loss, the initial reaction was to cower and reel. And then we thought of all the things we failed at, berated ourselves for whatever we did that cost us our victory, for not having thought of a different play instead.   

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And from there, painful loss turns into hapless hopefulness: “If only I could get another shot at this. If only there was a way to try again and win it this time.” 

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Because this time, we know so much better. Among other things, we know that it’s not because we didn’t have what it takes: the drive, the skill, the experience. We know that sometimes, having what it takes is not enough; that fate is the other side of free will’s coin and that circumstances will sometimes be unkind, but that in the same manner, things could turn around. And when they do, we are more than ready.

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This is why many wildcards end up as winners. :)

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Outfit details: Divisoria batwing hoodie, Hang Ten denim shorts, H&M stockings.

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New Era limited edition Stars and Stripes July 4th baseball cap.

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SM Accessories bracelets, cuff, bangle and ring.

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Switcheasy iPhone case from Beyond The Box. Cool designs plus top-quality material. Get your own at 50% off until August 18th! Here are three easy ways.

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SM Accessories quilt shoulder bag.

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Asian Vogue platform wedges. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.


Ph: Don Michael De Leon of Happyfingers Photography (Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook). Special thanks to Magel Ordoñez and Anton Holmes.

Charmed

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In the TEDTalks video “Why 30 is not the new 20,” psychologist Meg Jay talks about how we young people may lead more meaningful lives and invest in a future with purpose and fulfillment as we reach our thirties and beyond. It might be a few more years before I get to that stage, but Dr. Jay’s talk got me thinking of all my quarter-life qualms: the uncertainty at where the paths I’ve taken were headed, the desire to make a significant contribution to society, the realizations that turned mistakes into lessons.

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As she underscores in her talk, our twenties are meant to be stepping stones, not “throwaway” years. Do something that adds value to who you are,” says Dr. Jay. It reminded me of steps we can take to get there, and I thought I’d wear these reminders on my sleeve—well, my arms—every day from now on.

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On one hand, a watch to be reminded that time doesn’t stop for anyone, and that we must spend it wisely because we can never take a second, minute or hour of it back. On the other, a band of reminders for getting started on the me I want to be and the life I want to grow into. 

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(Paper Dolls top, Human jeans, booties from Korea, Esprit Time watch. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.) I got the charm bracelet from the jewelry coffers of Pandora. I’ve loved these things even as a little girl, and I used to tell myself back then that the perfect time will come when I can start building one and start filling it up, one life journey at a time.

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I chose Pandora for many reasons, starting with my fascination with Greek mythology and the particular story of Pandora’s box which attempts to answer the question of why there is evil in the world. In grade 6, I wrote an adaptation of this story for a school play and got to play Pandora, the world’s first woman whose name literally means “she with all the gifts.” She opens a mysterious box out of curiosity and releases all the evils of humanity, leaving only Hope inside as she scrambled to close it again. It’s a tragedy, but it ends with that hope, and I’d like to think life is like that too. 

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My Pandora’s box opens up to a silver bangle with two locks and five charms: a silver cross with a heart in the middle flanked by turquoise Murano glass beads, a silver sphere with mother of pearl hearts and a silver flower with aquamarine stones. 

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The silver band, as a reminder that of two things: that things will always come full circle, and that precious things last. We will always reap what we sow, which is why we should take care to plant only seeds whose fruits we want to eat. Financial success and career achievement are undoubtedly important, but more so are our relationships. Are we making time for our parents, our siblings and cousins, our true friends? Will we be there whenever they need us? Do they know that we appreciate them for everything they’ve been doing for us, and are we able to give the same back to them? 

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The cross with heart to be reminded of the One who makes all things possible and beautifulThe flower, as a reminder to bloom where I am planted, and my birthstone aquamarine (March) as a reminder that we are born for a purpose, and it is up to us to seek and fulfill it.

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The rest are reminders of my aspirations. two turquoise beads (my favorite color!) to represent sea and sky, because adventure is out there! After trying out scuba diving despite not being a beach person and not knowing how to swim and ending up loving it, I realized that there’s so much more out there that I want to see and explore. As they say, traveling is the one thing you spend on that makes you richer. And finally, the white hearts to represent pure love—what I believe in and look forward to finding, feeling and keeping. 
      

Thank you Joanne for helping me build my charm bracelet—literally and figuratively, Magel for helping me rediscover the spirit of adventure, Robbie for helping me learn when not to give a darn, Anton for helping me find the right words, and you readers, for being there. Next to my family, it’s friends like you who make this a charmed life. :)  

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! :)