Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fashion: Modeling for a Master


My friend Lauren Kanegawa (who took the lovely Mad Men-style shots of me back in July) just finished her capstone project in photography, focusing on intimate boudoir portraiture. Lauren’s commitment to making women of all races, heights, and body types feel beautiful is what attracted me to the project and what makes her portfolio so compelling.



I was nervous at first about wearing lingerie for the shoot, but when all was said and done and I got to see the photos in print, I was speechless. She asked each of her boudoir subjects to write a few sentences about how we reacted to the pictures. I scrawled, in my elementary school cursive:

“I feel confident, beautiful, bright, timeless…This is how I want to be seen.”



Thanks again Lauren for your incredible work.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rant & Rave: Never 21

This is my first and (hopefully) last virtual rant. I try not to use my blog as a soapbox, but if I’m giving shopping advice, I need to toss in some real talk.

I hate Forever 21 with a passion I usually reserve for double-parkers and people who wear acid-washed onesies. I avoid this place like the plague for two reasons. (1) Until recently, they didn’t carry “plus sizes,” which in 21 terms means anything above a large. Their “large,” by the way, is about an 8/10. (2) Forever 21 is cheap in every sense of the word (see: acid washed onesies). Yes, their merchandise is inexpensive, but that’s because it’s poorly made—mislabeled sizes, broken buckles, ripped seams, you name it.



But the other day I had a genuine shoe emergency. My sandals broke on my way home from work and I wasn’t about to get on a MUNI train barefoot. The closest store was Forever 21, so I scrounged around and came up with one of their few pairs of size 10 sandals. I waited in line, paid my $12, and went to put on the shoes and head home.

Unfortunately, whichever poor child laborer they had punching the holes in their sandal straps had fallen asleep as his post. The first three holes weren’t fully punched, so I couldn’t buckle the right shoe. I tried to push the buckle through one of the indentations, but it broke to pieces in my hand. I tried to find another pair in my size: no dice. In fact, I checked every rack on every floor of the store looking for another pair of sandals that fit. I managed to find one, but it cost twice as much.


$11.80 worth of pure bull---t

I explained the situation to the sales girl (including my dire, MUNI-in-bare feet situation). She informed me that not only could she not discount the replacement sandals, she also couldn’t void the charges for the previous pair because I’d paid with my debit card.

So, an hour later, angry and still barefoot, I took their gift card for $12 and walked to a nearby Forever 21 where I found the same pair of sandals I’d originally bought. I waited in line again and discovered another little Forever 21 quirk: they cost $2 more there than they had down the street.

Obviously, that was my last Forever 21 purchase. Don’t be tempted by their prices! You’ll get so much more than you’ve paid for.


Maxi dress designed by Foley + Corinna and its Forever 21 "version" - courtesy of

P.S.: In case the child laborer link didn’t get your attention, here’s the Business Insider expose about Forever 21’s labor practices and intellectual property violations. And a great take on the topic by SHEI Magazine. Seriously, read them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heroine: Michelle Obama

My lefty views are no secret, but I can’t imagine how anyone could’ve watched first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention and not been deeply moved.

“If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire, if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores, if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote, if a generation could defeat a depression and define greatness for all time, if a young preacher could lift us to the mountain top with his righteous dream, and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love, then surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American dream.”

In addition to being an eloquent speaker and champion of children’s fitness and veterans’ employment, Mrs. Obama, at 5’ 11”, is also tied with Eleanor Roosevelt for tallest first lady in U.S. history. (Barack is in a three-way tie for fifth tallest U.S. President at 6’1”.)

Though her approval rating is sky-high—66%, according to Gallup—the first lady is not immune to criticism, especially for her looks. HuffPo Style made slideshows about how Mrs. Obama and the French first lady—former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy—often wear flats for public appearances. (Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy is 4 inches taller than her husband, who’s a mere 5’5”.)


He’s trying so hard.

The women who commented on those pieces weighed in on the first-ladies-in-flats debate. Some said good on the first ladies for choosing comfortable footwear, while others said that heels, and only heels, are appropriate with that designer frock.

Some said that the first ladies should be able to wear heels if they damn well please, without worrying about dwarfing their husbands, while others said that the women should play down their heights to avoid making their husbands appear weak on the global stage.

Tall wives just can’t win.


But one thing Michelle Obama is consistently complemented on is her healthy, toned physique. Her biceps alone have inspired a legion of fitness videos and magazine covers. In addition to being a great progressive role-model, she’s helping inspire me to eat healthier and get fit. Another success for Obamacare?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

DIY: To ∞ and Beyond!

At Unique SF back in July, Aimee of SwellMayde (one of the best DIY blogs out there) hosted a workshop in crafting wrap bracelets with cord and embroidery thread. I decided to try mayking them myself with leather and a few embellishments...

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A piece of leather cord long enough to go around your wrist twice
  • Three jump rings
  • A lobster-claw clasp
  • Masking tape
  • Embroidery thread
  • (Optional) a bead or charm for decoration

First, thread all three jump rings onto the leather cord—the first one by itself, the second one with the lobster claw clasp attached, and the third (optional) one with your bead or charm attached. Tape the ends of the cord together with masking tape.


Then, pinch the middle of the bracelet together, with the ring by itself on one side, the ring with the clasp on the other side, and the ring with the bead in the center, like so:


Cut a long piece of embroidery thread and start wrapping it around both sides of the bracelet, covering the masking tape. Be sure to leave a 3-4 inch tail of thread when you start the wrap.


When you get to the center of the masking tape, where your bead is, just keep wrapping. Don’t worry, the tape won’t show underneath. Here’s a close-up of the wrap in progress:


Once you’ve covered all the masking tape with embroidery thread, knot the end of the thread together with the tail you left on the other side, and trim off the excess. I recommend putting a dab of craft glue on the knot to keep it from coming untied.


The final shape is a figure eight, like the symbol for infinity ∞. When you wrap the bracelet around your wrist and clasp it, it should look like this:


With one of my new rings



Monday, September 3, 2012

Events: Unique SF, Renegade Craft Fair, & NightLife at the Academy

I’ve recently released my inner magpie at three showcases of local DIY and crafting talent. The first was the premier of Unique SF at the Concourse Exhibition Center on July 1. I was dazzled by more than 200 artisans specializing in natural stone, laser-cut pieces, animal bone jewelry, and screen printed tees.

Toyota, the event sponsor, had booths where you could get your hair braided, have a massage, and learn to fashion wrap bracelets from chord and embroidery thread. (Tune in next week for more on the swellmayde bracelets...)

ASTALI’s bullet charms, snake vertebrae bracelets, and subway token cuff links inspired me to start working more with coins and bullets (hint: check out my background shot). Corey Egan’s silverwork and Nous Savon’s shoulder chains were also highlights. What’s a shoulder chain, you ask?

Check out the last picture in the slideshow Finger_Pointing_Down_small.

Psst: The Unique Made in America show will be expanding to NYC for the first time on November 17 & 18!
I hit my second wind on July 21 with the Renegade Craft Fair at Fort Mason Center. The level of creativity in the crafting community never ceases to amaze me: belts made from fire hoses, earrings from skateboard wood, and necklaces from pieces of actual starched lace.
My only complaint about Renegade was that most of the fine jewelry, pottery, and textiles at the exhibition were far out of my price range. I’m still dreaming about the silver brain rings, lung lockets, and tentacle pendants Peggy Skemp had on offer. Sigh…

I met the lovely Caitlin (5’10”) at Renegade, too. She and her tall, tall mom suggested I check out the Lizzie Bennet Diaries—a Youtube adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Somehow, my boyfriend’s now hooked on Jane Austin.
Last (but probably best) was crafter-themed NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences on August 16. Every Thursday night the museum has a 21+ cocktail event, and this week featured steampunk pieces from Scene, Not Herd, pressed insects on vintage maps from Bug Under Glass, and laser cut and 3-D printed accessories from Christina Westbrook.
After shopping my heart out, I wandered through the aquarium and rainforest dome, and past a one-man exhibit on animal penises (no joke). Unfortunately, the academy’s new Earthquake exhibit was underwhelming, except for the 51-day-old baby ostriches. Illustrating the evolutionary power of plate tectonics—with cuteness!