Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Style Statement Principle

As promised, I will be revealing my very own Style Statement in this blog. 

As defined, the Style Statement are just two words, but two "profoundly magical words" that will reveal your TRUE personal style. As the book / blog defines it:  "Your Style Statement helps you make choices that accurately reflect and support the real You. When applied, it becomes a lifelong mantra, allowing you to make authentic choices that make you feel powerful and joyful. Your Style Statement is where your essence meets your expression." 

The first word of your Style Statement is your foundation word.  As defined in the book, "This is the core of who you are, your essential self.  This is the part that feels like first nature, even if you resist it.  It is the part of you that is often most obvious....It shows up in what you most strongly believe, in what you most often choose, and in the most frequent themes of your [taste and style]."

The second word of your Style Statement is your creative edge word.  

If the foundation word represents your essence, your creative edge word is how you express your essence.  To make it more tangible, the creative edge is your life's accessories.   In communication and relationship, the creative word is the impression you make. 

Aside from answering the in-depth questions in the book, I also asked the opinion of my bestest friends about how they see me (since, most often than not, the people closest to us know us better than we know our own selves)

After much analysis and reflection (which spanned several days), I finally arrived with my two magic words -- the words that best describe me, my essence and my expression...


As defined in the book:


SPIRIT: Bold has a strong warrior spirit that can translate into risk-taking, maverick ideas, and lively adventures.  Go big or go home.  Do it right, or don't do it at all.  That's Bold.  Bold will automatically question established rules and set out to challenge whatever they perceive as unjust or sub-quality.  They inquire:  they look beneath the surface; they like to know the facts; they are wired to make an impact in whatever they do.  They can be incredibly imaginative, and critical thinkers, and it's their ability to get out of the box that makes them great trend spotters and assessors of what's happening. Bold gravitates to people who can effect change, and can always identify a winning formula or the overachiever in the room.  In overdrive, Bold can be aggressive or imperceptive, which might lead to isolation -- a less-than-ideal circumstance, because Bold prefers to be surrounded by people.  They are quite comfortable with uncertainty because they know that they can draw on their own daring and multiple resources to fully embrace any situation.  They are almost always sure that they've made the right choice.  They focus forward.  They take charge and persevere.  Bold is sure to be noticed.

LOOK AND FEEL: Bold likes unique designs, a bit of flare.  Solid stuctures, strong shapes, generous and bountiful events, full sensory experiences.  Outstanding, eye-catching, substantial. 


SPIRIT:  Simply is authentic and unpretentious.  No-nonsense and never one for airs or embellishment.  They are typically humble and modest.  What you see is what you get.  Simply loathes excessiveness, waste and clutter -- both materially and psychologically.  Deception and personal politics irritate them on the deepest level.  What's unnecessary is disheartening.  Simply is a direct communicator.  They express themselves clearly and candidly.  They love to find out the story behind the story, get their point across, and be heard, and they won't back down from an argument.  In fact, they can be incredibly persistent and stubborn, to the point of becoming entrenched.  For better or for worse, they're great at cutting corners.  Simply loves to find the most logical or ideal solutions -- utility and purposefulness are at the top of their list.  They are remarkably durable and hearty spirits.  Simply has a keen way of knowing what's most important or essential in every dimension and deeply relishes the basic necessities and pleasures of life.

LOOK AND FEEL: Clean, pared down, balanced.  Basic, organic.  Fundamental.  Austere, plain.  Open spaces.  Well-organized.  Tidy.  Can range from ultra modern and stark to sheer elegance.  Never ostentatious or showy. 


The outfit looks something like this.
I could go on and on and on how my personality fits my Style Statement of Bold Simplified, sharing with you a thousand and one anecdotes from long ago.  But, I will not bore you with the gory details of my youth and youthful days.  Some of these are also deeply personal stories, which I prefer not to be aired out in the very much public sphere of the internet and blogging. 

Since we are using the Style Statement in terms of pinning down one's fashion sensibilities (and, later on, tangible aspects of living with elan), let me share with you an example of how a daily outfit of mine illustrates my Style Statement.

The General Manager in my old office complimented me on one of my work outfits.  It was comprised of basics -- a white round neck shirt, beige trousers, a black blazer, and black high heels.  To top if all off, I put attention-grabbing accessories - a black multi-layered bead necklace and a cocktail ring with a Mona Lisa print.  

Simple outfit with bold accessories.  

A bold person pared down to the basics...

But with slivers of boldness still peeking through. 


What about you?  What's your Style Statement?


Me, Version 2.OH!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Why Don't We: Style Statement

In my previous post, I wrote about the Great American Apparel Diet, which you can view here.

In a nutshell, its a movement started by a group of American women (and even a few men!) who vowed not to buy any piece of clothing for one whole year, either as a response to consumerism, cut nonsensical spending, simplify their wardrobe, reduce the closet clutter, or lessen one's carbon footprint, with their efforts to be documented in a blog.

I've decided to join this movement as a response to a (consumerism), b (cut spending), c (simplify the wardrobe), d (reduce closet clutter) and basically to simplify one's life and to try to get to my true self.  And, as the Great American Apparel Diet points out: "who are we without something hip and new in our closets?  We shall see." 

I started last April 5, 2013.  I am on Day 2 and still have 363 days to go. 

For those who want to embark on this journey to simplicity and finding fulfillment and happiness outside of H&M (just my favorite clothing brand in the world), then let me share a book / "movement" I've read a while back (more like 3 years ago) that will definitely put things in perspective by helping you discover the things that most represent you.

Its called the Style Statement. 

If you ever wondered why a dress still makes you feel uncomfortable even if it fits you perfectly, or why you can't muster up the excitement for a trip to a certain destination, or why you have a hard time dragging yourself out of bed in the morning for your job even if everything is bright and chirpy with your career?

It all means that your inner self is not in sync with the choices you have made or are available to you.  It is your inner self's protest -- that what you chose may not be what you really want.

The Style Statement are just two words, but two "profoundly magical words" that will reveal your TRUE personal style. As the book / blog defines it:  "Your Style Statement helps you make choices that accurately reflect and support the real You. When applied, it becomes a lifelong mantra, allowing you to make authentic choices that make you feel powerful and joyful. Your Style Statement is where your essence meets your expression." 

Coming from a person who shops a lot and ends up wearing most of the items once or twice, resulting with a closet full of clutter and a wallet on the brink of bankruptcy, this book could spell the difference between a life well-lived and a life that runs on a double jeopardy of emptiness -- empty in the bank, empty in satisfaction.

I was lucky to have found the book in the bargain bin of National Bookstore.  Originally priced at PHP 979, it was discounted further to PHP 300. And, I now discovered upon writing / researching for this blog, that a Jumpstart Session (which you can avail in their blog) cost US$ 150. It was all just kismet for a newly-minted penny-pinching gal like me. 

The book is filled with people's Style Statements, including a rundown of the things they love, inspiration, philosophy among many other things.  

In between these pages are questionnaires, exploring your likes / dislikes, interests, passions, skills, talents, finances, purpose in life among many others (even mundane things like favorite flower!).  It also has worksheets and helpful tips on how you can arrive with your Style Statement. 

Writing this blog and looking back at the answers I wrote down three years ago, I realized that my TRUE choices remain the same no matter how much time has already elapsed as evidenced by this blog entry of mine made a day ago.

  • For starters, I still have Audrey Hepburn as a peg.  

  • My style buzz words are still "Tailored, Simple, Classic, Clean, Minimalist." 

  • I still champion basics: white long-sleeved shirts, black tailored jackets, well-cut shirt dresses.
  • My dream shoes are still Miu Miu. 
  • My answer to the question, "If I Could Wear One Outfit for the Rest of My Life," is a description of the photo of Kate Middleton's outfit, which I chose as a peg for the blog entry.

Its just oh-so consistent. Even with a 3-year gap.

And, come to think of it, the items that are in constant rotation in my closet are those that fit the descriptions above. Those are also the items, which I get a lot of compliments from.  

So, if I have already discovered my Style Statement 3 years ago, why didn't I abide in it?

Well, call it being human.  We make mistakes.  We fall off the wagon.  

But we should get right back in.  And, we should continue where we left off. 

So its important to reflect and look back every now and then to see if we're still on track, if we're still aligned with our inner self's True North.  


Want to find out my Style Statement?  It will be the topic in my next blog entry.  Watch out for it!

Do you have a Style Statement?  Share it with me in the comments section of this blog entry (or the next!).  I want to hear all about it!


Me, Version 2.OH!



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Don't We: The Great American Apparel Diet

If you have read my previous post here about "Eat, Pray, Love" up to the very end (it was a long post), you would have come across the article "Eat, Pray, Spend" from Bitch Magazine.  In this article, I learned about The Great American Apparel Diet.

The Great American Apparel Diet is a movement started by a group of American women (and even a few men!) who vowed not to buy any piece of clothing for one whole year, either as a response to consumerism, cut nonsensical spending, simplify their wardrobe,  reduce the closet clutter, or lessen one's carbon footprint, with their efforts to be documented in a blog. 

I thought it was a great idea for me to adapt in my life.  As of now, I have 3 closets/drawers filled with clothes.  Although my wardrobe pales in comparison to the sheer volume of clothes and wide range of styles/brands of cosmopolitan women, I find the quantity of clothes that I own still too many for me to handle.  

 For starters, I have already reached a point where I get surprised that I own a certain piece of clothing (i.e. "I forgot I bought that!").  Some have been used only once. Some have never been used at all.

Second, my closet has become a jungle.  There were times when I couldn't find a piece of clothing since it has been relegated to the back/bottom by newer purchases.

Third, I have been spending a huge chunk of my income on clothes, going on shopping sprees at least every month. And, since I have a secret love affair for the latest fashion trends and fall on the heavier side of the spectrum, I am doomed to shop at high street brands that carry a wider range of sizes (as opposed to local brands which cater to the petite frame of an average Filipino female!). These high street brands may be considered affordable, even cheap, in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and our better-off Asian neighbors, but for a Third World country, the cost of a top from one of these brands could already be considered a luxury.  The money spent on the latest fashion could have been used more wisely and efficiently to finance investments, pay credit card bills, or to fund travels to my dream destinations. 

Before I turn into a complete shopaholic, addicted to the latest trends, at the mercy of the fancies of fashion dictators, living in credit hell, I decided to go cold turkey on my fashion cravings.  

I am subjecting myself to the Great American Apparel Diet.  The next time I will purchase a piece of clothing on a whim, it will be on April 5, 2014

Ready, Get Set, Shop...STOP!

For those who want to join me on this, here are the rules of the game:

Indulge without the guilt (or, items you can buy):
  • Underwear. A girl has got to have clean panties at all times.  Granny panties and bacon bras are a crime against humanity. Items that give support such as Spanx, slimming stockings and the like are A-OK as well. 
  • Footwear.  You still get to channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw, provided you don't over indulge with the Manolos.
Statement Shoes - Miu Miu

  • Accessories. As defined in the Webster dictionary, "An article or set of articles of dress, as gloves, earrings, or a scarf, that adds completeness, attractiveness, etc. to one’s basic outfit." 

A scarf can spruce up a basic ensemble.  Take it from Kate Middleton.

  • Clothes currently in your closet.  As long as they're not "new" -- they have not been paid by you.   Anything bought at secondhand shops or at the Salvation Army are still considered new.  Let me put it out of your mind as well that any kind of deception to yourself such as writing yourself a check, getting a family member or a friend to write you a check, or giving them your "wishlist" are considered cheating. 

The exception to the rules (or, if you must absolutely buy):

  • Wedding Gown.  Don't deprive yourself on your special day.

    Dream Wedding Gown
  • Costume.  If you cannot recycle a costume in your closet, or you lack the vision and ingenuity to assemble and transform individual pieces of your normal clothing into the character's ensemble, or if you must absolutely win that Best in Costume award, then go ahead and buy or commission one. The costume to be purchased / commissioned cannot be one that can be worn in normal circumstances, unless you're crazy or Lady Gaga.  

  • Special clothing that you don't have in stock in your closet.  This is a tricky one and requires complete honesty.  These are items you don't own or has gone AWOL from your closet. 

    • Example 1: The last time I had a swimsuit was in college.  That was 10 years ago when I was still 40 lbs lighter and can still pull off a pink teeny tankini.  Now,  with nephews and nieces requiring chaperones while in the pool, I had no choice but to get myself a new swimsuit.
Dream Swimsuit (and Body) - Chanel Spring-Summer 2013

    • Example 2: I have a gala event to attend which requires me to wear a long gown.  The last time I wore a long gown was at a friend's wedding, where I served as bridesmaid.  Satin is a sin. And is un-salvage-able in my opinion.   So I have no choice but to commission a long gown for this new event.It'll be one of those classic silhouettes so I can use it for other occasions as well. 

Minimalist Elegance - Audrey Hepburn's iconic black in Breakfast at Tiffany's
Demure front / Sexy back -  Audrey Hepburn's iconic black gown in Breakfast at Tiffany's

  • Basics that are way past their due date.  Another tricky one which requires complete honesty.  These are your white long sleeved tops which has started to yellow from age, black pants that you've outgrown.  Faded and torn jeans are not considered in this category  In order to be exempted, these items must come in neutral colors (black, white, beige and gray) and must be standard items of clothing such as a white T shirt, white long sleeved top, black pants, black skirt, with zero embellishments, not a pip of  a sequin or a fold of a ruffle.  One will not be charged guilty as long as the purchase is restricted to one piece per basic item for the year. 
Basics are the foundations of any wardrobe.

If someone gives you clothes for a gift (without you telling them!), then lucky you. 

If  you fall off the wagon every now and then, its alright.  You can always pick up where you've left off and try again. 

As the Great American Apparel Diet blog says, "We all have our reasons for embarking on this project but it all gets down to this…who are we without something hip and new in our closets?  We shall see."


Me, Version 2.OH!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Eat, Pray, Love: the Exorbitant Cost of Enlightenment (and the Birth of this Blog)

Part of my resolution is to go through all the books in my bookshelf before buying a new one, unless it has a sequel or another book which is related to it. 

To welcome the summer season, I picked out for my first summer reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love".  

Reading it, I was inspired to do my own version of "Eat, Pray, Love".  The "Eat" part has always been a requisite in my travels or even in my day-to-day life (and my weight is a growing testament to it!).  Traveling to eat is always an agenda in any trip in and out of the country.  The "Love" part was out of the question as I am happily settled in a long-term relationship.  

It was the "Pray" part that got to me.    

I envy her desire and discipline to achieve true spirituality.  I envy the calm that her meditation brings and how it elevates her being and keeps her reality grounded at the same time.  

The mysticism of all that chanting, meditation, and yoga in a quiet provincial environment perked the interest of this non-practicing Catholic.  

So I started Googling about ashrams, trying to uncover the identity  of Elizabeth Gilbert's unnamed ashram, so I can follow in her exciting yet still enlightened path. And in the course of my Googling, I discovered several things:
  • That a retreat to an ashram can set you back from US$450 to a whopping a US$14,000.  
  • That there are a lot of ashrams to choose from, each specializing on its own set of teachings / practices.  
  • That there Elizabeth Gilbert's guru's organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America, has come under fire for misleading its followers and subjecting them to harassment, including sexual harassment / abuse.  Read the article here: The "Eat, Pray, Love" Guru's Troubling Past  
And, then I stumbled on this excellent intellectual article criticizing "Eat, Pray, Love" in the aptly called Bitch Magazine.  

In a nutshell, it characterized "Eat, Pray, Love" as priv lit or privileged literature -- "literature or media whose expressed goal is one of spiritual, existential, or philosophical enlightenment contingent upon women’s hard work, commitment, and patience, but whose actual barriers to entry are primarily financial." 

It goes on to say that "Perhaps priv-lit is a manifestation of how we love to fantasize about things we don’t—or can’t—have. Rather than offering a model to aspire to through consistent attainment of progressive, realistic goals, priv-lit terrorizes its consumers with worst-case scenarios and the implication that self-improvement is demonstrated by 'works' of spending.... The pressure to obtain happiness by buying a certain book (like Eat, Pray, Love or, more recently, Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project), attending a yoga retreat, or hiring a guru moves women further away from themselves, the simplicity espoused in positive psychology literature, and the type of careful reflection necessary to maintain inner peace in the long term." 

And with that article, the harsh light of reality trained its spotlight on me, giving me a silent yet sharp wake-up call.  Yes, we all want to have that great adventure, our own versions of "Eat, Pray, Love," where we travel to exotic locales, eat exotic food, and experience being romanced by exotic men.  But, not all of us have book deals, trust funds, and / or rich daddies that can finance a trip of fantastical proportions.  And, if that's the case, are we now doomed to roam the earth in failure and misery?

In the age of consumerism, we tend to equate happiness and fulfillment with what we possess.  I know this is not the case.  The great Gautama Buddha has achieved enlightenment, nirvana, under a bodhi tree in the middle of nowhere, fer cryin out loud!  How simple is that?!?!

The article could not have said it more eloquently: "If more women become willing to put aside their fears, open their eyes to cost-free or inexpensive paths to wellness, and position themselves as essentially worthy instead of deeply flawed, priv-lit could soon migrate to a well-deserved new home: the fiction section. And once that happens, we might just succeed in showing that for every wealthy and insecure woman who can pony up to reach great heights of self and spending, there are thousands more whose lives are comparatively uncharmed, who are happier working with creative and healthy alternatives instead of spending on what they’re terrorized into wanting, and whose stories will, someday, be valued for the strength they communicate, not the fantasies they sell."

So I challenge myself to cut through the clutter of modern consumerism.  To simplify life. To learn to enjoy the simple things. That happiness is always just around the corner, if you bother to recognize it for what it really, truly is.

Me, Version 2.OH!


Read the complete article of the criticism on "Eat, Pray, Love", priv lit and its negative connotations as featured in Bitch Magazine here: "Eat, Pray, Spend"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In Pursuit of Happiness and Fulfillment -- Version 2.OH!

I will be turning thirty three years old this weekend.  

Photo by @ashleyisalive.  Taken from the Instagram account of @Over.

In spite of all the U-turns, wrong turns, traffic, mishaps, and delays that my life has encountered, I know that I have still lived a relatively full and happy life. 

And, at this ripe-old age, I've discovered that what makes a truly fulfilling and happy life are not the ones you can purchase off the shelves (or in the racks of H&M!) or eat in Michelin-starred restaurants, nor do they require a visa, and run along the line of 7-digit figures. 

Photo by @stefanbradow.  Taken from the Instagram account of @Over.

At this age of true maturity (I just need to stress that!), one comes to realize that there is truth in the so-called "life's simple pleasures".  That true pleasures don't necessarily come with a hefty price tag. At the same time, true fulfillment does not come in an over-stamped passport.  They come in sunny days, in kiddie pools, in the company of cats and dogs, even in a bottle of Coca-Cola on a hot humid day (open happiness, they say!).

Of course, there is nothing wrong with eating, shopping and traveling.  I  would be a hypocrite to deny that I don't aspire to eat in a Michelin restaurant, to jet off in some exotic locale, to lust after a designer handbag.  

But, they all come at a price. And, they certainly don't come in cheap.  And, with my Third-World salary, I can only afford so much. 

Happiness and fulfillment is not exclusive to the rich alone. Everyone is entitled to it.  Everyone can certainly achieve it.  Money certainly helps.  But its not the end all and be all.  It is more like a means to an end.  

And those who are cash-strapped? We get creative.  We become appreciative.

And, at the end of the day, I think we, regular Joes and Janes, end up as the real winners.  Because even without the bling and the benjamins, we can still find happiness.     

Photo by @ashleyisalive. Taken from the Instagram account of @Over.

This blog will be my diary of the lengths, shortcuts and roundabout ways I have done and will do in my pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

This blog will be my journal of plans and projects, excerpts from books, feel-good songs, photos of my cats, and other random what-nots, which I feel give my everyday life purpose and pleasure.   To become a better version of myself.  To live my life with joie de vivre no matter what income bracket I am currently in.

This blog will be my record of all the good things in my life (and other good things that I've discovered that I hope I can bring into my life).  To remind me of the things I should be thankful for.  To inspire me to dream and do more.

And, may this blog also inspire you to seek out your own personal catnip, your own version of happiness and fulfillment. 

So, here's to us and our journey in pursuit of happiness and fulfillment!


Me, Version 2.OH!


Photo by @jshthmpsn.  Taken from the Instagram account of @Over.