Kate Moss inspired fashion advice

Kate-Moss-and-Jamie-Hince-arriving-for-a-fashion-show

If you like fashion and you are always on the look for smart tricks to look good, model Kate Moss is a good example to take inspiration from. The secret behind Kate’s good looks, (apart from the fact that her bone structure is close to what some describe as the golden ratio of beauty), is that she never seems to try too hard. And if you look closely she has a specific personal style to which she stays faithful most of the time. Kate Moss has given the world some fashion advice which is not much, but then again there is not much to tell about fashion anyways. In reality it is not that complex.

The reason why I suddenly look to Mossy as a good stylistic example for the fashion-confused like me is that the more I grow up the more I find it hard to understand fashion. The other day I ventured a trip to Zara – one of my favourite fashion retailers for my kind of budget— and for the first time I did not find a single item that I felt I could wear. Everything looked like it was designed for tall and willowy girls and channelled a certain 60’s/faux vintage persona with an artsy, jet set-aspiring lifestyle. The clothes charmingly looked like they had “a story to tell” but after inspecting for the tenth time every single cloth rack in the hope of finding something that “made sense” I had to sadly admit was not my story.

The general factual truth with fashion trends is that the more women wear them-copying the example of models, actresses and other celebrities- the more they normalise the trends, so they gradually stops being edgy, over the top or even ridiculous and become conventional. Furthermore, our fashion conditioning sponsored by the same high street powerhouses wants us to think that a daring outfit equals a daring or confident personality. For instance take the popular Mtv show Plain Jane whose job is to transform “plain” looking girls to modern goddesses with the noble purpose of giving them enough confidence to ask their school crush out on a date. The show host Louise Roe, a woman who would ,no doubt, look good in a bin bag, is a fierce advocate for high street fashion. Louise encourages “Plain Janes” ,who would rather go out in jeans and a t shirt ,to try instead bright colours and bold prints, statement earrings , bling necklaces and sexy high heels as an exercise to learn how to radiate confidence and femininity. The show is very entertaining and surely only does some good old high street promotion, but the truth is that no girl should take its tips too seriously.

Here is why: In real life nobody over age 25 has the time, the energy and the necessary “talent” needed to figure out whether the orange bare midriff dress combines with the turquoise scarf and 5 inch platform heels, let alone actually put them on and walk down the street feeling no doubt uncomfortable and slightly ridiculous. No woman should be made to feel like that on fun her night out when she should above all feel comfortable and relaxed and allow herself to have a good time. IT IS NOT A CRIME TO BE IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE. (Also, in real life it takes more than mustering up the courage to ask the guy out to make romance happen, and at the end of the day if he was into you he would not wait around until he was asked).

Going back to Kate’s advice, here are some personal observations/inspirations that could help fashion conscious women keep their sanity.

Kate wears denim most of the time, especially her trademark skinny black jeans. Of course she frequently switches to vintage super glam looks for special occasions such as celebrity parties, receptions, official premieres and other paparazzi worthy events that the average woman most likely will never attend so she (you, me) should rather invest her money in things she will actually wear on a daily basis. So yeah, that party dress might look fantastic on you but better resist the urge to decorate your closet with yet another cute outfit.

KM wears what flatters her body shape. She of course is super skinny and all that, but she does not have the typical model body. In fact she is a bit shorter. She still looks better than you and me but also sticks to things that show off her slender frame and make her look taller. So if you have already found what looks good on your body shape don’t feel pressure to experiment or switch to something different because you “have to” wear a certain dress or skirt. Why wear it if it is not flattering? Stick to what flatters you. Use that as a basis to work your variations on that.

Invest in your basics. Better pay three times the price on a piece of denim that will last 5 years than one third on the one that lasts less than 5 months. This way you will spend less time worrying about what to wear.

Combine old and new from your favourites and be creative if you feel like it. You don’t need to look like the exact copy of the Topshop mannequin. It may earn you the respect of the 15 year olds but to all the rest you will look like you are trying too hard.

Finally, (like Kate), don’t bother too much. Life is too short and maybe you were not born to be a fashion genius. (like Kate) Maybe you will never pull off a sophisticated vintage look. It doesn’t matter. Change your hair or change your make up. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself and show some attitude. At the end of the day the most attractive thing about your clothes is your personality. (and not lack thereof)

On Aliens

2001_space_odyssey

Last weekend the Copenhagen terrorist attacks happened and immediately made headlines. I was surprised to see a popular UK online paper on the same day sporting another headline, an article about catastrophic scenarios that might end life on earth. So it appears there are worst things that can happen to us than ISIS and the radical islamisation of Europe, like for example, a fatal comet hitting earth, rapid climate change or-my favourite-alien invasion by some very hostile little grey men.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mock the alien scenario, on the contrary I take it very seriously. Lately I see it regularly on the mainstream news and it is always a pleasure to read the comments at the bottom. A few years earlier a topic like this would have been present only on seedy websites.

I was also secretly hoping, if the aliens are not that grey and repulsing, to have the chance to meet one. I know what you think, who are you to be an ambassador for humanity? In movies we are usually being told this is a job of a President or a General, or a top scientist astronaut. However what if the aliens come from a culture that appreciate other things like for example prefer to make contact with ants, spiders or trees? Even value feminine energy over masculine???

I can imagine them landing in my kitchen, uninvited one morning while I casually place the dishes in the dishwasher and by using the little antennas on their heads start a telepathic conversation. They would congratulate me on my random thoughts (and my randomness in general), my flexible hips (especially useful for excelling in Zumba) and my vivid REM during which I project myself astrally at night to contact them.

Why the heck not?

When the Danish not-for-profit Mars One recently announced the shortlist of the people who made the cut to join its mission to colonise Mars, the result was surprising: many of them are not typical “science geeks” bur rather “life explorers” and have very individual profiles. For many this just exposes the unseriousness of the whole thing: this bunch would and probably will be more suitable for a reality tv program about people “who thought they were going to Mars”.

This however, our perceiving their human skills as irrelevant or secondary, also exposes another one of our beliefs: our leap to the stars will and should come only via scientific and technological advancements and not by exploring and advancing the human factor. All I am saying is while we make wars, destroy earth and our humanity, there might be little grey men out there that could potentially help us get there without us having to built billion dollars complex rockets: only that they do not intend to do so as they are repulsed by the arrogance and the cruelty of the human civilisation. Simply they don’t want to make contact with this aggressive species that uses its intellect to create nuclear weapons to self-destruct.

Finally i would be saddened if eventually aliens did show up and only had contact with our greedy and corrupt decision makers. (unless they were, you know, the little grey men we talked about in the very beginning).

Updates on Life in Sweden:The Stockholm Syndrome

Lately I have reconsidered almost every aspect of my life in Sweden. Everything that bothered and frustrated me the first year when I was child-free has now transformed into a big convenience. First of all I don’t mind living in the suburban multinational company Legoland anymore. True, there is no metro station nearby and not a pub in miles, but it does not matter anymore. For one thing, I rarely take the baby downtown nor have the urge to do so. And as for pubs, it sounds a bit obscene even for Swedish standards to push a trolley into a bar. I no longer whine about the bad restaurant food in the area, as for the last months in an effort to fit in my clothes again I have embraced green vegetables and water.

The only two establishments that I frequent multiple times a week, the supermarket and the gym are around the corner. I am finally giving in to the Stockholm syndrome. It took me a while to get here, but here I am turning into a Swede as we speak. Last year I had all these Whys and WhatIfs that made my marching through the snow even more challenging. Not anymore. I quit reading the Local.se as well. How much better can this get?

Parenthood lessons Chapter Two: Giving up on all the above and the below: sugar, booze, skinny jeans, second thoughts , the Local, ironing and the urge to keep things tidy and clean all time.

Embracing : Chaos.

Urge of the Week:
Claire2

Deep thoughts on the Ultimate Shopper

Eating croissants outside Tiffany's does not make you Audrey

Eating croissants outside Tiffany’s does not make you Audrey

The other day I watched  a British show on TV called “The Ultimate Shopper”.  Four “shopaholic” women were taking  part in a fashion contest and the winner would “have free run of the best fashion store in the country” and take home their entire collection. To compete, the four super-consumers were asked to put together three different styles choosing outfits from the store.  The fashion experts judges would then decide which contestant got it right and which did not.

What struck me as interesting is that the two contestants who made it to the final (pulling off the Miami Beach party look correctly) were far from elegant. The one was so overweight that looked uncomfortable in almost anything she wore and the other one was what the British would call a chav, orange face, hair extensions, fake eyelashes, you name it. The two girls that actually looked good were eliminated because they failed to put the right outfits together.

“This is not Miami Beach Party, it is more Summer Gig ” a slim elegant girl was told before she was eliminated. As a viewer I lost any interest in the show after that. Nobody really cares to see how an 180 pound woman or a chav would dress for the Oscars after all.

I was suddenly annoyed by the hypocrisy behind the whole thing. Two thoughts crossed my mind:

First , the whole idea that fashion is this set of rules that the average Jane can follow and look just as good as the fashion models is ridiculous. Every day we are bombarded with images of super tall, super slim, and photoshopped to perfection girls who try to sell us dresses, boots and make up. The message is clear: “Buy this and you will look like me, it only takes a few clicks on your keyboard and a credit card”.

And now the Fashion Industry is taking this offensive message even further: There is a way to get it right and that depends only on following fashion rules. It does not matter if you are fat and waist-less, orange faced, and do not possess a drop of elegance. As long as you wear the right kaftan combined with the right ridiculous pair of Summer wedges (because the beach is the right place for wedges after all), you are fashionably correct and look better than the rest. What an obvious way to target a woman’s wallet.

I am not saying that we should all look the same and that all women should be thin. I am not even interested in this idea right now. What I am saying is that there is a way to get it right and it has nothing to do with the right combination of shoes and bags or color blocking.  It has more to do with looking and being proportionate, effortless and graceful.  To wear what looks good on you and not blindly spend your money on garments that do not flatter you. There is nothing more unflattering than a woman or a man who tries too hard by wearing clothes that do not match her personality.

The second thought in my mind was how our whole society uses the same questionable system to evaluate everything and everyone around us. We are taught to not trust our gut instinct, our primordial gaze. We are taught to see something that looks and feels right and reject its harmony as irrelevant. Instead we seek to judge or evaluate others using only one criterion, and that criterion in our minds is independent from everything else.

Therefore we seek beauty without grace.

We seek performance without talent.

Responsibility without kindness.

Love without sacrifice.

Novelty without change.

We evaluate success by adding up numbers.

And the list goes on and on. There is a harmony, a grace that connects everything in the world but we are taught to look for small blind pieces, disconnected ideas, and weak perceptions.  We simply do not allow ourselves to tune in with the spirit that expands, relates and connects. And then we wonder what is wrong with the world.

By the way, the lady with the orange face won the contest and went home with the prize.

 In the end the judges decided that she was the least bad of the final two.

The Bitter Truth about my Pregnancy Weight Gain

I feel for you Kim

I feel for you Kim

When I put my foot on the scales for the first time after giving birth it was 8 weeks post partum and I was consciously holding the baby in my arms. I thought, if I saw something I did not like I would blame it on the baby. When the actual number hit me, two thoughts crossed my mind: a) the baby cannot possibly weigh that much before she turns ten years old b) an old classic: this scales is old and broken.

Just to be completely sure, I tried to balance the baby alone on the scales before I tried again without her. Coward me. I had never seen that number in my pre-pregnancy life.

During my whole pregnancy I was in denial about my weight gain. Apart from the fact that I refused to get on the scales after the fourth month when I realized I was already 10+ kilos heavier, I somehow tried to convince myself that “it is all swelling and fluid retention”. (Guess what, it was not.) But I could not control it unless I went on a diet, and that was not what I wanted to do while pregnant.  Having been slim most of my adult life, I never had to struggle to lose anything more than 4-5 kilos max.  So when I had to confront my post partum weight reality, I panicked. I kinda expected that out of these 28 kilos half would be gone after delivery with the baby, the placenta and well… the swelling. At least that is what so many moms on numerous pregnancy blogs claim, that by the time they left the hospital 10 kilos had miraculously evaporated. But it does not always work that way.

When it comes to pregnancy weight, It turns out that your body, in combination with the amount and quality of food you consume will do what your genes and hormones dictate. You may have the noblest intentions to stay “all belly” and be like one of those celebrity moms that go into their skinny jeans a few days or even hours after giving birth. If it is not genetically meant to happen, it will not and the worst thing you can do is to hopelessly cling to this idea in a desperate effort to maintain a sense of control in your life.

Becoming a parent suddenly changes your life so drastically and means that your weight gain will be the least scary of the scary things that will happen to you. I am not suggesting you should eat for two or stuff your face at meals. On the contrary, staying healthy should be a priority. But bear in mind that weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy and how much weight you put on will not solely depend on your eating.

Frankly I am tired of being bombarded with images of pregnant media personas and celebrities-pretentiously- competing who has the best genes.  Yes, we all know there are women out there that are naturally very thin and manage to stay slim during pregnancy.  We also know there are people who can afford expert diet consultation, personal trainers, chefs, weight maintenance programs and plastic surgery.  But the majority of us cannot and the worst thing that can happen to a woman is not the kilos she stocks up during pregnancy but her obsession and frustration over it.

Fellow moms, it’s ok.

Summing up, I had a discussion lately with a male friend. He was telling me how much weight both he and his ex partner had put on during an unhappy relationship. He literally felt heavy with frustration and toxic emotions and it was as if the weight came not from the excessive food but from the feeling that they were both dragging their feet living under the same roof.

So I say away with the weight gain remorse! It is as harmful as the weight gain itself and the surest way to find the old you again is to do everything in your power to be stress free and happy.

 

 

My Big Fat Toxic Nightmare: Toxic People Part II

My airplane next seat companion the other day was a Greek woman in her late 30’s. She narrated her life story in a three and a half hour rant (Stockholm-Athens) and was interested to know everything about me as well. I have to admit that during the last year in Sweden she is not the first Greek woman I have met in her late 30’s that seemed to be utterly nuts. It goes like that: You meet this person who in less than two hours needs to tell you all their personal drama. Why everybody is against them when they have been so great, supportive and selfless? Why everybody is so wrong when they are so right? She confides in me like she knows me for years (nervously trying to engage my attention at all times by fixing her angry goggled eyes on me) and she already behaves like a best friend. She wants to know my e-mail, my phone number, my Skype address, my horoscope, my height and weight, and is my hair color natural? But what she is really after is my own “secrets” and “confessions” in exchange for her own.

If our “friendship” survives more than this 2 hour trial (and that because of my unforgivable Libra tolerance and my criminal mistake to empathize with her situation) then it is likely to break up one day very soon, suddenly and violently Don’t ask the reason, there will be none. None real at least. I will be estranged, wiped out of her contact lists and comfortably put where I belong: on the other side of the fence with the horrible, cold, selfish and unappreciative “rest of the world”.

Having been burned before by my own naïve tolerance I just need to share this piece of advice: as soon as her crazy angry rant begins (usually involving incredible conspiracies against her, secret cameras and phone bugs that she accidentally discovered one day in her apartment) please start running away. ASAP. Don’t even be polite enough to nod or hear the end of the story. And for God’s sake don’t allow yourself to think her confessions are “honest”, “cute” or even entertaining.

If for some cruel game of fate you have to sit listening to her for the next 2 or 3 hours, brutally punished by your own good manners and upbringing, start humming a tune in your head. Some happy Mozart perhaps. The unconcerned relaxed facial expression you will have during this exercise will deter her no doubt. She will start thinking sooner than later that you are “one of them” and will lose interest in you.

I have written before about toxic people. The reason I find this idea fascinating is because for many years I did not believe there was such thing as toxic people. I kinda thought all people should be given second and third chances to prove themselves. And at the end of the day people will treat you like you treat them, right?

True, we are all humans, we say and do things wrong all the time. But just as all rules have an exception so is this: when you meet a nutcase just start running away. Drop your intellectual, religious, philosophical, psychological, social and moral nonsense and do yourself a favor not to step on this piece of doody on your way.

Yes, your shoe can be soon clean again, but a slight stench of shit will always be there to bring up the memory.

The Perfect Transplant

Skywalker thinks I should make more effort to involve my parents in my pregnancy.

“Ask your dad to touch your belly” he told me the other day.

“That’s not a good idea. He doesn’t like touching people that much.”

“Maybe you can go near him and let him touch your belly by accident.” SW insisted who believes that my dad’s aura is weakened by touching sick people all day and could use some positive energy coming from the baby.

My mother on the other hand touches my belly all the time. She is very happy to caress my belly and speak to it. However when it comes to sharing information and having long mother/daughter conversations, she is not that good.
Lost in her transplantation journals, my mum gets really excited only when a conversation turns scientific. Trying to have the regular chit chat about morning sickness does not really work that well between us.

“So mom, how was it when you were pregnant with me?”

Her face gets an agonized hard expression as if she recalls life in the battlefield: “It was difficult” she says “A day before I delivered I had to sit for my University Exam at Med School. I had so much studying to do. It was such an important exam…” Blah blah blah, she goes on about the exam.

“Did I kick a lot?”

“It was such a long time… I don’t really remember now”.

One last effort:

“So mom, how do you wax the bikini when you are pregnant when you cannot really see down there?”

“……”

Finally she finds a way to relate, her eyes light up and her expression changes into that of a happy child that realizes that Christmas is here.

Do you know that the fetus is the perfect natural transplant?” she says with excitement. “It has 50% completely foreign DNA and yet your body does NOT reject it. It is an unexplained miracle of nature.”

The miracle of nature and its scientific dimensions have finally triggered a conversation. I try to adapt and ask more questions or get more involved practically into Science. Like that time I made my family take a pricey DNA test to find out where our deep ancestors come from and how we are genetically related. The only two people that resisted the test were my sister, who believes human DNA could be similarly compared to the DNA of rats, and my dad who could not give a rat’s ass.

“So is it possible to save the umbilical cord after giving birth…? For the future health of the baby…?” Or something like that.

Her eyes light up again: “You can save the umbilical cord blood for the benefit of Science” she gasps “It is very unlikely your baby will ever need it.” and adds:

“It can be arranged.”

The Things a Pregnant Woman does not want to hear

The things that people say to pregnant women are almost impossible. Pregnancy, a once normal condition that rarely invited comments, has now become this huge deal that everyone in the outside feels they have to relate somehow and express some kind of opinion, comment or life view.

Googling the most common things that bother pregnant women I did not really find among the most popular reasons anything that offensive or shocking. As a pregnant woman today you should not really take offence easily but rather kindly try to see where every person is coming from. There is such an abundance of judgment around pregnancy out there that If you pay attention to every little thing you will drive yourself crazy or completely neurotic.

Weight gain remarks, unsolicited medical advice or assumptions about your postpartum life challenges (all often joined by uninvited belly touching), are things you should generally learn to shake off easily. We unfortunately live in times where pregnancy is seen as a lifestyle choice, as the Daily Mail “sidebar of shame” would agree. We see a pregnant woman in a voyeuristic gaze and instead of wishing her all the best and going on with our lives we try to spot that hard toll pregnancy has taken on her life, body and mindset.

I personally learnt not to mind weight gain remarks. When I first heard “Now that you grew fat you look like your mother” (Double compliment for me and my mother) by an old relative I did mind for a while, but then I put things in perspective. If it matters to him, it does not matter to me.

 I still have to admit there seems to be some secret guilty pleasure some people feel in seeing a person who walked all their lives in skinny jeans now waddling down the street. It is the same guilty pleasure that the Daily Mail sidebar brings to people’s lives.

So is your weight gain just baby or body fat as well?” Another old relative asked in deep concern.

Funnily enough, I do not care about that either. For one thing, there is people out there who genuinely and in all seriousness have these concerns. Give them a break.

What I do mind is horror stories. Anecdotal stories about miscarriages, birth defects and the like are things that pregnant women do NOT want to hear. You might have a sudden itch to share a horror story with your pregnant friend. Don’t do it. Keep your horror stories to yourself. Don’t even say that horrible word to her, in any sentence or context. It is possible that it might haunt her.

If you have to say something, you don’t even have to pay her a compliment about how good she still looks if you do not feel that is true. (Even though that would give her a secret joy that would make her day).

Just look at her and tell her with certainty: I am sure that everything is going to be just fine”

 

 

 

Diversity or Division? The Niqabs again on the News

There is one way to read the news in perspective in the mainstream media. Just read the titles on the main page, the one next to the other. You are probably familiar with a number of recurrent topics anyway. Don’t expect to see something new or different, unless this is an alien invasion.

It occurred to me the other day that a number of articles I was reading were about the same thing. I am not talking about the words or incidents but what lies behind them. The questions posed “innocently” by the mainstream media often aim to evoke sentiments or create counter-reactions among the public.

“Should Britain ban niqabs when it is against religious freedom?” asks one article. “Should neo-nazis be allowed to establish an all-white community in the States?”, wonders another. “EU warns French Minister over Roma comments” Of course it does. Human Rights talk goes well with salmon canapés and sparkling wine. It makes the EU decision makers and their Ngo pets feel less self-conscious about their decorative jobs and inflated salaries.

Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights.  And on the bottom the infuriated reader who like me, jumps naively into the comment war. And the goal is achieved.

 I wonder however why some media out there pose questions that only aim to create reactions, like rage, fear and insecurity among the public. Take the Niqab debate for example. It has evoked endless comments by readers who in a somehow apologetic tone (No, we don’t hate the Muslims!! Secular society for all! ) need to justify why covering your face in public is NOT a good idea. The whole debate has been elevated to a religious debate when the most obvious argument against Niqab has little to do with religious freedom but rather the obvious fact that nowadays as we are heading to a society of mass surveillance you are not allowed covering your face in public.  

Furthermore, the fact that If you are to be integrated in a society and thus your diversity is seen as a benefit and not as a threat to multiculturalism, your obligations should be stressed as much as your rights. In short, leave your extremism at the door before entering. History has shown us that multicultural societies have been destroyed overnight by extremism of both national and religious character. We should not ignore history.

So why is this issue linked to religious freedom of Muslim populations in the West? Muslim or not, no woman should feel oppressed if you ask her to reveal her face in public. If there is such a conservative and oppressive husband that could not imagine his wife leaving the house uncovered, believe me the Western society could not care less about that man. Just keep him in the ghetto away from us, is the official policy. Give him some social benefits too, if you are Sweden and keep him and his children off the job market. You also don΄t need to worry that your doctor at the NHS will insist examining you with her face covered, or that your child’s teacher will haunt his dreams with her scary outfit: These people will probably won’t get the job anyway.

The real question behind is Do you want a society of Diversity or Division?

Also how much the whole Religious/Human Rights debate is being manipulated to undermine Multiculturalism and Diversity and create a divided society? Apologetic attitudes and hypocritical worries about human rights and secularism will not lead us anywhere. We are all equal.

Your Silence is Gold: Toxic people.

Throughout your life you will come to realize that some people just don’t like you. Especially if you are one of those hopeless people pleasers like me you might wonder “But why?” I did all the right things or more likely ‘I hardly know this person.’

Big mistake. The golden rule in falling out with people for no reason is to never give it a second thought and never look back.  Some people are not here to make friends and are not here to make peace with others or with themselves. They often do not realize that and usually moan about others having the blame for anything bad happens in their lives.

I remember when I was in Beijing there was a girl in my Chinese language school that always put on a sour face when I was around. I never understood why. I hardly knew her and I had never had a real conversation with her. I could not find any reasonable explanation for her unfriendliness. Once I was invited for lunch by a friend to join a big international group of people at a Thai restaurant. When we got there I realized she had organized the whole thing and did not look happy to see me.  I still had a good time chatting with the whole group.

In the end she came forward “I don’t remember inviting you today” she said. My friend quickly retorted ¨I invited her” he said.  This small lesson in life has shown me this simple truth about some people: the more you try to figure them out, the more you waste your time.  

People don’t really communicate with words. Words can be used to mask intentions or verbalize hate that is already present. Words are just the cover. You already know who wishes you well and who wishes you bad and you can feel it just by sitting next to them, looking in their eyes, interacting with them.  You just know when a person’s words come from the heart.

Toxic people love words. They can go on and on about facts and incidents which aimed to undermine them, and that in a chronological order and in every detail. They obsess over things said between two parties which are recorded in their minds with frightening accuracy.  They take pride in “exposing” others through their obsession with dates, numbers, and words. They have no feelings of empathy.

Next time you try to figure out why you let that toxic person in your life, remember that you waited around long enough until this person turned their anger towards you. You have probably seen him/her in the past hating other people for no real reason and you have felt chills from their anger just by sitting next to them . You just thought it was ok because their anger was seemingly not directed at you.

You cannot make peace with toxic people. They cannot make peace with themselves.

Just let them be and move on.