Love Chic

Showing 29 posts tagged summer

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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Elemental

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Earth, fire, air, water. The Greek classical elements fascinate me, but it’s the fifth one, æther, that I find most magical. 

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In Greek mythology, Æther was the first-born elemental god, the personification of the clearest, brightest sky in which the gods of Olympus lived, and the pure upper air that they breathed. He is superiorly illuminated, and this brightness shone down all over the mortal world. At night, Æther’s mother Nyx (“The Night”) called upon her husband Erebus (“The Dark”) to blanket the world in darkness, and in the morning Æther’s sister Hemera (“The Day”) dispersed this dark mist away so that his light may be seen again. 

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Thus, in classical Greek science, æther is the quintessence (“quint” meaning fifth) that is not of this world. Medieval philosophers believed that the cosmos and the stars were formed and surrounded by æther. Whereas the first four elements were earthly and subject to change and corruption, æther, the “air of the gods,” was heavenly and unchangeable. If earth is green, fire is red, air is yellow and water is blue, æther is purple: a color that, unlike the colors of the earthly elements, is rarely found in nature. 

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In fact, it is common knowledge that purple is the color of royalty and power and this is why. Before people discovered how to synthesize dyes, the only way to produce about 1.5 grams of purple dye was through a painstaking process that involved the beating, drying and extracting of mucus of some 12,000 Murex snails!  

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In color psychology, purple is associated with noble things: good judgment, fulfilment, inspiration. It is the perfect balance of red (masculinity, warmth, energy) and blue (femininity, coolness, stability). For those who believe in chakras, purple is the color of the crown chakra (top of the head) that connects the spirit to universal sources of energy and wisdom. 

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Æther. Heavenly air. Purple quintessence. The perfect balance. People turned to mythologies and associations to explain the way the world around them worked. Going back to the basics, breaking everything down into the simplest, most essential parts of which they are made. Believing that the balance of elements leads to harmony and the disturbance of this balance leads to chaos. Looking to what’s tangible to explain the intangible. I guess no matter how scientific and modernized we have become, my fascination for the old ways of looking for answers in the mystical and mythical would always hold. Some things are best learned when felt with the heart rather than explained with the mind. :) 

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Outfit details: Shop Enna peplum dress. Check out their shop for flirty and feminine frocks. 

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Isn’t the lace back gorgeous? Just the right amount of sexy and sweet.

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Japanese Candy contact lenses. They’re in chocolate brown so it’s not really obvious, but they basically round out the irises and make them look bigger. I wear contacts to help with my 750/750 vision, but it doesn’t hurt that this online store has some seriously cute pairs.

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SM Accessories eggshell and gold bracelet and necklace. I don’t really mean to choose matchy things, but their collections are always well-curated that the pieces usually end up complementing one another.

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Renegade Folk heels. Still as wonderful as when I first got them close to two years ago. 

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Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here, leave a Disqus comment below, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde :) Have a great week ahead, everyone! 


Photographed by Anton Holmes. Special thanks to Noni Mortel. 

Solstice

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Where I’m from, summer was ages ago, and so was the CloseUp music festival “Summer Solstice” where I wore this outfit to. It’s still summer in the Northern Hemisphere though, so technically I’m not off-season. Haha.

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I didn’t really feel like writing this just another event post so I shelved it for a while; the afternoon heat today got me thinking of it again.

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In a nutshell, CloseUp Summer Solstice was a 12-hour music festival that featured local and foreign artists of varying genres. It was held April 27 at the MOA concert grounds. 

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More details of the event here, my fellow ambassadors and the artists lineup here.

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I went with one of my good friends, Chris Everingham. 

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Of course, as soon as we got there we saw a lot of other friends. It was like everyone congregated there that night. 

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I’ve never gone on a night out of partying and clubbing before this (and I say this with only mild embarrassment, heh), so to say that it wasn’t bad for a first timer would be an understatement. The music was amazing and the crowd was awesome.

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Familiar faces were everywhere, too, so you never ran out of people to enjoy with.

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When things wound down, we hit the nearby Army Navy to chat and chow with friends.

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Popples, Martin, Lana, my cousin Jeru, Shaoi and Robbie. They’re friends from different points in my life, some way back and others more recent, but one thing they all share in common is the feeling of ease being around them brings. In all honesty, it was the company of these guys that made it more worthwhile to go to Summer Solstice. 

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I think back to when I first encountered the term in high school. It was the title Filipino National Artist Nick Joaquin’s short story, set in the Philippines in the 1850s. It revolved around the “Tatarin,” a three-day pagan fertility ritual held during summer and ending in a festival. Drawn to mystical-sounding titles, I pounced on the story, and my thirteen-year-old mind was entranced by the delicious images conjured by Joaquin’s prose. Thus began my fascination for solstices and equinoxes, seasons and transitions.

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Perhaps owing more to my penchant for finding connections than anything, I noticed how both the story and the event involved dancing, a festival, and the merging of divergent cultures. Both, too, are rife with symbolism—then again, maybe the use of “summer solstice” in itself evokes it. A solstice (literally, “sun standing stlll”) is when the sun comes to a stop before reversing its direction, marking the beginning of a season. Around the time of the event, an experiential solstice was upon me as well: days were long, everything was at a standstill, and I was wondering when the wait for change anew would be over.

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Of course, seasons never fail. At the precise and perfect timing, the change occurred. And here things are, more vibrant and alive with possibilities than ever before. :)

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Event photos by Jeru Paguntalan and Martin Adelantar of Illustrato. Outfit details: Forever21 corset top and maxi skirt, CMG platform sandals, SM Accessories clutch bag, headband and bracelet. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here

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Your thoughts are most welcome! Feel free to leave a comment or a question below. If you haven’t yet, follow me on Twitter/Instagram @shailagarde for updates! 

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! :)

Grass is greener

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Worn on a lovely Saturday out with my mom. Shot on a wide open field just outside our village, near a small plaza that houses our favorite homey café and restaurant. I’ve been based in Pampanga since December, the longest I’ve ever stayed here ever since moving to Manila for college many years ago. When I was younger and San Fernando was not yet the bustling and progressive city that it is today, I dreamt of going to Ateneo and getting a job and living in Manila. I thought of it as this place where you have access to everything: the good malls and restaurants, the good theme parks, the good hospitals, the TV stations and magazines and advertising agencies where I wanted to end up working.

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Grass really is greener on the other side—as soon as I got to Manila, I found myself always wanting to go home! I was overwhelmed by the intense traffic, the faster pace of everything, and the way people my age seemed worldlier, socially savvier and more wais about certain things than I was. I started to appreciate the simplicity and mellowness of life in Pampanga. Makes me think how we can take for granted the things we grow up with, keep longing for that which we do not have. When we finally have a taste of it, yes, it is wonderful and amazing, but often turns out to be not exactly what we had imagined. We discover that like anything in this world, there are trade-offs and downsides to every perk and upside. And then we realize that what we’ve always had is what we’ve always wanted in the first place, or at the very least, that it wasn’t so bad after all.

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Every time a new school year starts, I think of all the freshies out there and wish them well—especially those on a scholarship like I was, because it means additional expectations and challenges. As the first one in my family to leave town, I know how it can take a while to get adjusted to everything in Manila, to develop and polish everything from the way you dress to the way you relate to people and the way you speak and present yourself, while still retaining your values and identity. Above all, to learn to be strong through trials and temptations that will come your way while your family and support system are miles away.

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Of course, it helps a lot that my house is just an hour or so away from Quezon City and that whatever is there is also here now. Still, it wasn’t always the case, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of things, and there was a lot of hard learning that had to happen (there still are, actually). I always say that in my years in college, I learned infinitely more from life outside those classrooms than inside. I’m glad I got to experience both sides of the grass—only here, grass might literally be greener. Heh.

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Changed my hair because we were planning to shoot a song there and the wind was blowing my waves all over the place. I do a decent French braid, but my mom’s is definitely loads better, don’t you think?

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Anyway, we tried to do a couple of takes but there were a lot of welcome distractions: the sound of birds, dogs barking and children having picnics and playing around. We ended up making friends with them instead!

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The girl holding my ukulele, Angelica (same name as my mom’s), was the first one to run to us. She sat down beside my mom and quietly watched me sing and play. Soon, her sister and friends followed and we had a fun chat with them. They told us they live nearby, at a car muffler shop, and they often come to the fields to have lunch under the trees. A great idea that I can’t wait to try with my family when we’re all home.


So I ended up doing the song in our basement, where I also did this and this. :) “On The Side Of Me” is by Corrinne May, a Christian musician from Singapore. I’ve always loved this song, and I decided to sing it as thank you to my family, friends and blog readers—the words are so real for me I wish I wrote them myself. Hope you like it! I don’t have much yet, but you can watch my other silly videos and subscribe to my channel here.

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Outfit details: Binkydoodles dress, Ziggy & Zooey shoes, Fab Manila bag, SM Accessories bracelet and ring.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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!

On the bright side

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intersections

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Blind Clothing one-shoulder dress, CMG wedges, SM Accessories necklace, earrings and clutch bag, XOXO watch. Contacts from Japanese Candy.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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Sometimes I get asked how I think of look titles or entry themes. It’s nothing serious or scientific, haha. While uploading the photos, I usually just look for a detail somewhere in the outfit and then try to connect it to the day’s story.

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Like this dress with all its lines. Wore it to a dinner date with some awesome people. Lately I’ve been having a lot of these dinners, with old and new friends from diverse backgrounds and countries. Different folks with different strokes, yet somewhere along the conversation, we find intersecting interests. I’ve been learning a lot from them and loving it. I think the Universe is making up for a couple of years of incidental social constrainment. :)

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On another note of gratitude, to everyone who’s been continually interacting with me through this blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and/or YouTube, thank you :) It’s still as kilig and inspiring as the first time, and so lots of exciting things are in the works. Here’s to a great week ahead!

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? :)

Music festival idea #2: Hippie

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Binkydoodles cutout top and maxi skirt, Crocs wedge sandals, SM Accessories necklace and bangles. I’m doing a trio of outfit ideas for the CloseUp Summer Solstice, the first music festival of its kind to happen in Manila this Saturday. While my first one has a more casual urban feel, this one’s for the hippie in you. Hype it on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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In putting together these outfits, I wanted to only use pieces that are already in my closet. I wore this cute top in this post and the maxi skirt in this one. I like going floral on floral for summertime events.

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I tucked the bottom of the cutout top in the skirt to shorten it and balance out the look, since the skirt is already long and flowy. It’s a really breezy outfit that’s great for staying cool despite the heat we’ve been beleaguered with these days.

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Since everything’s already colorful and feminine, I went with pointy white accessories.

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It’s going to be difficult to wear heels and complicated shoes to a music festival—they’re usually held outdoors in unpredictable weather, and entails doing a lot of standing up and walking. I went with these Crocs (yes, they’re Crocs) to complement the accessories, and of course, to add height. Maxi skirts make you look longer, especially when paired with wedges.

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Pulled my hair up into a bun in keeping with the carefree vibe of the outfit. I don’t really comb my hair because it tends to go against the natural waves. Buns are a good way to keep hair in place, as frizz and sweating are inevitable at a summer music festival.

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How do you like this outfit? Is it something you’d wear to Summer Solstice? Let me know what you think, or ask me your style-related questions here.

Music festival idea #1: Urban

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Tiered top from a friend, Hang Ten denim shorts, Skechers wedge sneakers, Human hat, SM Accessories earrings and bangles. Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here

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It’s only a week before CloseUp Summer Solstice, the first music festival of its kind to happen here in Manila. If you’ve got your tickets and your date(s) but still haven’t figured out what to wear, here’s one of three outfit suggestions I’ve come up with. A hat to keep your hair in place amid the frizz-inducing heat and breezy clothes you can groove in.

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It’s the top I wore here, the hat I wore in the last outfit here, and the same shorts and accessories that I wear, well, just very often. What I’m doing with this trilogy is to mix and match pieces I already own—you could do the same, check out your closet for anything that might work so you can save your shopping money for next time.

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I’ve kept makeup and accessories just as fuss-free. Just enough to make a statement without having to worry about them while singing and dancing to the beats. After all, you’re there to enjoy the music, not to flaunt your entire wardrobe. Heh.

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My current favorite: wedge sneakers! Skechers named it Skch +3 for the added three inches to your height. I’ve always professed my liking for boots and for wedges—boots with wedges hidden inside them? Yes, please. Especially for a music festival, where you’ll want to stand tall and you’ll need to be in comfy footwear at the same time.

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Let me know what you think! Or if you have questions you want to ask me about style, feel free to write. Click here. :) Check back tomorrow for my second outfit idea!

The Peak

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Forever21 tops, Marithé + François Girbaud jeans, Skechers sneakers. My dad surprised us with a Hong Kong trip during the Holy Week. It was a short one—we left on a Sunday and came back on Tuesday to be here before Holy Thursday—but really fun. It was the first time all five of us traveled out of the country together. The weather was comfortably chilly, which was nice. It was lazy-day weather; needless to say, I was (not) dressed (up) for the occasion. The outfits I packed were the type you could just pull on and be out the door fast. My picture-taking was just as lazy; since my first trip to HK involved taking a bazillion photos, this time around I decided I’d rather make the most of the family-bonding by not going on travel-photographer mode. So yes, this post is more OOTD and less tourist. Heh.

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You couldn’t get more comfy-casual than these. I haven’t worn jeans on a regular basis ever since acquiring a taste for (and a sizable amount of) cute shorts and skirts, so my old pairs didn’t quite fit me right anymore. I dropped by Girbaud scouting for skinnies, and this one fit me snugly without depriving my lower extremities of oxygen. It’s one of the four styles of basic jeans they recently launched, all coming at PHP1,800. A steal, considering Girbaud’s usually higher price points. Even better, you can take home a pair of basic jeans for free if you shop there regularly. From March 11 to May 31, you get a stamp for every P500 purchase. Collect 18 stamps and your choice of jeans is yours.

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Check out the bindi-inspired button details. Looking at it now, they seem to subtly match the graphic prints on the Forever21 tank top. Don’t they? Or maybe it’s just me and my unwavering penchant for matching pieces of clothing. Haha.

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My trusty Skechers. Every time I slip into sneakers for errands and travel, I find myself wishing I were taller than my 5’1” stature so that I’d be able to wear flats whenever the situation doesn’t absolutely require high shoes. Love how the red just pops out.

Taken with Instagram (@shailagarde). If you’ve been to Victoria Peak, you know just how fickle the air is up there. One minute the sky is clear as day and you can see skyscrapers and mountains mingling in the distance; ten seconds later everything is enveloped in fog.

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It was so cool (Get it? So cool? Sometimes I am too funny I forget to laugh). Ateneo hoodie from my brother’s girlfriend, SM Accessories eyeglasses. Hype this on Lookbook and Chictopia.

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My siblings, Miku and Vince. I’m the eldest, but often get mistaken for the youngest. These two are more “adult” than me in a lot of ways. I love them to bits. They keep me sane.

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Well, when we’re not goofing around, at least. So, how have you guys been spending your summer break? :)

Graduation

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What I wore to my brother’s graduation. Shopaholic at SM Department Store dress, Asian Vogue pumps, SM Accessories necklace, bangle and clutch bag.

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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That day, realization upon realization started hitting me like a snowball in the face (not an entirely unwelcome prospect in this hot and humid weather).

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My alma mater. I would often come back here for random things—meeting friends who are now teachers, going to church, running errands. Snowball number 1: for years, Ateneo was just a place for me to do stuff at. I never bothered to look around and marvel at the fact that this was where I was shaped, where I grew in intellect and in faith.

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Our elders. The professors, deans and leaders of this institution, without whom none of its students would be where they are now. My Science and Society professor, astronomer and physicist Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, is now University President. Snowball number 2: I was in the classrooms of the country’s most intelligent, compassionate and generous people and instead of appreciating that, I would balk and sulk whenever challenges came my way.

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The ceremony. There were twice as many graduates this year compared to my batch of about 1,900. Yet even their number is but a tiny percentage compared to the millions of young Filipinos with no access to quality education. Snowball number 3: I was given the privilege of a full scholarship in Ateneo and I gave my bare minimum in return. I let each school day, each requirement pass me by like it was nothing, when it could’ve been another kid of equal skill level and aspirations in my place. I didn’t even try to run for honors or be the well-rounded Atenean I was supposed to be. I was placed in a Merit class of a legendary teacher, Max Pulan, that produced young leaders and achievers excelling in their chosen fields, while I’ve spent the last few years squandering my education on less worthwhile endeavors.

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The graduates. I imagined them feeling grateful, excited, hopeful, relieved, maybe a little worried at what the real world holds in store for them. And then I remembered how I felt when in that blue toga. “I can’t wait to get out of here and get it over with.” Snowball number 4: I was so full of teenage angst at my pseudo-problems at the time—petty things that all seem so pathetically trivial now—that I failed to remember what we were taught: be a person for others. What were my trials compared to the sufferings of others? What have I been doing with what I’d been given, to make a difference in their lives?

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Vince. It took all those years and his graduation to shake me back into my senses. In a happy coincidence, the resolutions came in time for my birthday.

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So, instead of the usual party or dinner, here’s how we celebrated. Duyan Ni Maria (Cradle Of Mary) is a shelter in Angeles City, Pampanga that takes in children as young as newborns until they finish school and can earn their keep.

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Sister Alexis Casas, S.M.E. runs Duyan ni Maria. Hers is a story of profound faith in God’s provisions. She was able to build a children’s home out of donations and fundraisers she worked on. Rain or shine, day in and out, she would commute from house to house and organization to organization to solicit funding for her children’s food, clothing, schooling and other needs. She continues to do so until now, even while struggling with diabetes. I can’t imagine my grandmother having to travel around the city in the hot sun with a never-healing wound in her leg, working to make ends meet! Yet she’s always smiling and saying that God never fails to provide her with what she needs—sometimes, it’s not what she hoped for but turns out to be even better.

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Sister Alex knows all the names of all the children, and she introduced them to me one by one. They told me their stories. Some were abandoned at birth in public hospitals. Others were rescued or ran away from abusive homes. Most of them were named by Sister Alex herself, and they treat her like their real mother.

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It was a small party and the food was simple—just spaghetti and fried chicken—but the way the children were so excited and happy, you’d think it was a lavish feast on Christmas eve! Gratitude is such a nice feeling.

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We often see in movies or TV shows how unruly it can get in children’s homes. They were polite and gracious and cheerful. Sister Alexis’ kids couldn’t be further from that depiction. Then again, them being raised by a soft-spoken and loving nun, it isn’t surprising at all how well-behaved they are.

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In collared shirt is my uncle Tito and behind her is my aunt Bunny, siblings of my mom (who took all these photos with my phone). They’ve been doing apostolate work ever since I can remember, and Duyan ni Maria is one of the places they visit to bring food and do tutoring. The lady in purple is Sister Vicky, who helps Sister Alex to manage the place. They kept thanking us profusely for coming over but what they gave me is far more precious.

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Graduation. Learning enough to take you to the next level. I graduated many summers ago and each summer I turn a year older, but if I were to be honest, this year is the first time in a long while that I actually felt it. :)

Liam Hemsworth for Bench/ Summer 2013

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

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

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

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

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

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

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Road Trip

Miss Sixty dress over striped tank top, Cole Haan wingtip brogues, SM Accessories hat and necklace, Veloci wristwatch, backpack from my sister. Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here.

Just something for the summer. Been going on drives with my loved ones to nearby places that I haven’t been to in a while. Looking forward to more of these this year :)

Hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far!