Love Chic

When love caused you pain, will you be brave again? 

Featuring Shai Lagarde (Love Chic) and Charlie Sutcliffe (Juan Direction). Directed by Rember Gelera. Produced by Me&U and M+Y Metallurgy. Music “Unspoken Definites” by Up Dharma Down used with permission from Terno Recordings.

Share the trailer as we count down to its launch! For updates, follow @shailagarde @meandushop :) #lovechicunspoken

Coming Up

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To make up for the long intervals between posts, I’m giving away (2) Silver tickets to Disclosure in Manila on July 24th. Details after the cut. 

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So here goes another chilly, clammy rainy evening with the breeze wafting through the thin mesh window, one of those nights that somehow manage to simultaneously bring forth a slew of thoughts and reflections and strip you of the eloquence to express them elegantly. For someone who writes for a living, these nights are both intimidating and freeing.

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Intimidating, because how you string your carefully thought-out words together is how you get things done. An idea gets shaped in your head, and you wrap the right words around it so you could turn its intangibility into something others can grasp. Without the ability to communicate that, your idea is just that: a blob inside your mind.

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Freeing, because when your brain is a constant, blurry flurry of ideas, dreams, plans and expectations, the barely audible sound of the drizzle outside causes you to space out in a good way and just breathe and let everything float on by. Your mind is cleared, not unlike when the rain cleanses the air.

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Redtro

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Slipped on this little red dress for a hosting gig last week. Titan, the fifth largest wristwatch producer in the world, launched their first store in SM Clark Pampanga last week with a gathering of media and guests at the Activity Center.

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I chanced upon an awesome Mango sale the night before and saw a black version of this dress, but how many LBDs does a girl really need? To avoid the unnecessary acquisition but still be able to justify the purchase, I went with the red one.

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Last of Summer

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It was pretty much spent indoors and in cold places, and I can’t say I won’t miss the clear skies and the general feeling of longing to laze around in a cabana whiling the worries away. So I figured I’d do a proper send-off by going on a mini summer vacation, in something season-appropriate: pool-party garb. One for the road, so they say.

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Milly neoprene bikini in Candy Pink, Triangl. White mesh vest as cover-up, 101 New York. Necklace, SM Accessories.

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Aqua chiffon button-down as cover-up, Ensembles. Hat, SM Accessories. 

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For a number of reasons (not least of which is that I’m not exactly the most toned of bodies in a day and age of toned bodies), I can count all the times I’ve ever been in a two-piece swimsuit: a couple for the Boracay specials of the TV shows I co-produced, once to demo which bikini suits what body type (me under the “petite” category). The only time it wasn’t for a job was when I went diving, but I’m in a suit all day anyway. Needless to say, being out there in one for the sake of spontaneity feels refreshing.

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I love the comic book pop art vibe of this pair. It balances nicely with the candy pink—something I always try to do to regulate an otherwise too girly look.

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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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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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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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Versatility

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On the sporty side. American Eagle Outfitters racerback dress, Adidas sneakers, Guess bag, Silverworks necklaces, Pandora charm bracelet, Me&U ring. 

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Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

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It’s really cool how this racerback can be sporty, dressy or casual depending on what you wear it with. It’s got the right balance of being loose on top, snug and fit at the bottom, which is how I usually wear these thingsAll you really need to transform this dress are the blazer, shoes and accessories that would fit the look you want to go for. 

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For the bag and the jewelry, I played around and deliberately chose items that wouldn’t normally go well with this look, just to try and put dainty and athletic-chic together. 

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I usually wear this carry-all to the office or when running errands for easier stashing of everything. It’s got a frilly pink charm and comes with a pink polka-dotted wallet, but they make it look too Paris Hilton so I thought best to do away with those. Heh. 

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White, black and pink, just like the bag. Same shoes I wore on this post (also with a dress, just to show that sneakers don’t always have to be worn with jeans or shorts). I’ve always found this color scheme so easy to style. The black balances out the otherwise ultra-girly combo of pink and white and gives any item an understated edginess. 

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Here’s another pink-and-white combo that doesn’t scream girly, thanks to the rubber studs. iPhone 5 case from Beyond The Box.

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How the white hard casing looks without the rubber cover. Industrial-chic is what I like to call it, but I don’t really know (and yes, this is an upside-down photo).

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Aren’t these Silverworks necklaces just adorable? They’re my current favorites.

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The top pendant is aquamarine, the birthstone for March. The customized nickname isn’t just pretty, it also helps café baristas take my order. No need to spell out my name—just point. Haha. I like wearing these two together as a representation of who I am. They  go perfectly with my other two treasures.

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My Pandora silver charm bracelet, also with aquamarine. I picked out the charms with one of my best friends, Joanne, and each one has a profound meaning. Wearing this helps to remind me of the things I strive for, of the things worth believing in, and the things I should never lose sight of. 

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My Me&U ring, given to me as a gift by the shop’s owners. The couple have become two of my dearest friends ever since meeting them through this blog. It’s a reminder that although some things aren’t meant to last, some things definitely are, and it’s these that we must always value and appreciate.

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I guess I put together this look not only for the styling of it, but more importantly for the commonality that I saw in all the pieces: their versatility. I’ve been busy with work the past two months that I’ve struggled to divide time and energy equally among family, friends, fitness and self-improvement. As today is the first of September, my new-month resolution is to do away with the reasons (i.e. excuses) for not being well-rounded, allot enough time for everything and everyone and learn to make better use of every 24 hours I’m given. :)
   
Share your thoughts about this look or about whatever by leaving a Disqus comment below or tweeting me @shailagarde. Happy September!

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.

Clarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. :)  

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! :)