Thursday, December 18, 2008

Xmas shopping


It is that time of the year again. Xmas!

From the year I left home to live some hundred thousand miles away, I have been fascinated by Xmas and the spirit of giving. As a kid I used to love Xmas because it meant that I will receive some nice toys from my parents. But when I became independent from my folks-I thought the living alone part meant that I was becoming an adult and that I was independent- Xmas became more a holiday during which I could please my folks than being pleased by them. I remember doing some Xmas shopping to get the best things for my family and closest friends. I would spend money but I did not care because I was doing good.

In reality, Xmas had a totally new meaning for me: the loneliest time of the year. For once in my life, I did not have my family present in my daily life. I was living with strangers who were so different from me. And it took a toll on me. I always wanted to be free from family burden, I just could not wait to leave the nest, to fly with my own wings. However, all of the sudden, I found myself being lonely, and yearning for a kiss, a hug, a chat from one of my family members. I was becoming so depressed. And the cold weather added to my dark mood.

I found relief in Xmas shopping. I figure if I could not be at the family dinner table for Xmas in person, my gifts would represent me. So there I was hopping on the bus, the train, bracing the cold winter and the crowd to shop. I bought CDs, books, electronics, chocolates and stuff that I thought my folks would like. The shopping was more a therapy than a duty. At the end of the day, I was tired but satisfied.

Over the years, this feeling of loneliness during Xmas did not completely fade away. However, I found relief in spending Xmas with my own family (Hubby and Baby).There was nothing special during that day for us because my husband does not believe in Xmas. However, we always try to do something special because his birthday is near Xmas. We either travel or invite people for dinner at home. Just by doing something different with them, I do not stress over the fact that I do not get to spend Xmas with my parents.

The feeling of loneliness may have almost disappeared but my hunger for Xmas shopping has not. I do not know what pushes me to spend during that time of the year. Is it the overly attractively decorated stores with their recurring Xmas carols? Is it the set of nicely wrapped Xmas gifts? Or just the ambiance of the people around me? I do not know what it is but I always shop like crazy during Xmas.
This year on my Xmas list is:
- an engraved watch box for my Hubby
- two super soft bathrobes (one for my honey and one of me)
- an easel for my kid
- probably some fancy stuff for a romantic night (do not ask me what)
- and some groceries to make a very nice Xmas eve dinner or Xmas lunch.

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year

Happy holidays

Monday, December 15, 2008

Moussor is not Hijab

I went back home for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends. While I was there, I enjoyed observing the fashion trends of the Senegalese Women. I was happy to see that more women were wearing the Hijab than back in the days when I was a teenager. However, their wearing of the Hijab was very interesting and unique to the Senegalese woman.

First, let me explain that the typical Senegalese woman is fond of fashion and dressing up. She does everything to get trendy clothes and accessories, going so far as to pay it in layaways. That is why, even though we are talking about recession and economic crisis, every woman is well dressed.

Second, Senegalese women enjoy wearing traditional clothes. We have a set of traditional clothes that we put on to go to work, or during special occasions such as weddings. The Boubou is a large piece of clothes worn over the body with a wrap around skirt underneath. The "Taille basse" is a two piece top and skirt generally made with wax cloth. The Nodcket is an empire waiste dress with oversized sleeves. And finally we have Kaftan or Jellabah designed clothes imported from Arab countries. All these types of traditional clothes are very colorful and made with very expensive cloths such as Thioub Ganila (dyied cloths) of imported silk.



My Christian cousins and I during Eid

With the dress of those traditional clothes come what we like to call the "Moussor". Moussor is a piece of clothes that we wrap around the head. It has nothing to do with the Hijab because it does not usually cover the whole head and neck. It can be worn very simply or elaborately depending on the occasion. Nowadays, the Moussor is such a craze that some hair salons specialised in it. A lady, dubbed the Queen of Moussor even makes some very artful Moussor like hats and sells it.




Senegalese Moussor from simple to elaborate (from orange.sn)

Although I do not know how to make a Moussor, I enjoy wearing it. There was a time when I hated it because I did not want to fuss. But now that I am of a certain age, I think it is very appropriate and elegant to wear it. The Moussor has become so popular that you can see it on young girls head even if they are not wearing traditional clothes. I noticed this trend while shopping around town. The sellers of the Sandaga Market (local market) were offering Pashmina style scarf for a very affordable price. Of course they are not real Pashmina but they are close to the real deal. Many women enjoy wearing those scarves around their head. My cousin would wear it everyday and match the color with her outfit.



Head Wrap with the Senegalese Hip Hop group Farafina

I started to imitate her because I was tired of having the same style of covering my head. I went to Sandaga and bought myself 5 colorful Pashmina scarves that I immediatly started to use. I found this way very interesting because I was in the process of wearing the Hijab. By using these scarves, I could still cover my hair and head without being too blunt about my wearing a hijab. People did not even notice that I started covering myself. It was so natural. Of course, there will be a time, when I will completely cover myself, and I would have to ditch this Moussor style. But for now, it suits me well and I am very happy with it.

At the beginning of this article I said that more and more women were wearing the Hijab. You could see them on the streets.More than ever, you can find shops for Hijab wearing women, hair salons, and even gyms. I even found an article about a Senegalese woman who was designing Hijab friendly clothes.
(read the article in French at http://www.carapid.com/details.php?ref=2376&categorie=Mode&theme=CC33CC)

However, the particularity with the Senegalese style of wearing the Hijab is that it is not subtle. Many Hijab wearing women would wear shiny and sparkly Hijab that would draw attention to them. It may be pretty but is it not the purpose of the Hijab to be discreet? I do not want to judge because compare to others, at least they are covering themselves. Nevertheless, I know some people who may not agree with their styles.

It was good going back. I enjoy the fact that even though fashion is still crazy at home (some women do wear outrageous things sometimes), more and more women are thinking about covering up. And they are sticking to in spite of all the temptations. For that only I am glad.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Travel Necessities

I like to travel. Ever since I was 6 years old, I enjoyed hopping on a plane or riding the bus to go discover new places. I did my share of travelling since the 1980s. I have been everywhere from Europe (Italy, Switzerland...) to Asia (Japan, South Korea) en passant by Australia.
All these travelling have taught me something crucial: I need a lot of stuff when I do travel.
So here are my must haves on a trip (by plane or car).

1- An oversized bag:
It could be a shoulder bag or just a small trolley, it does not matter. But it needs to be big, huge to contain all the stuff that I will be taking with me. I prefer a bag that is light because it will not put a strain on my shoulders or back. Nowadays, there are many oversized and fashionable bags. You just have to choose what you like. Personally, I prefer oversized Boston bags. They are so cute. But a big patent bag is nice as well,particularly in a popping color like red (I am dreaming of one right now)

I absolutely love this one by Hayden Panettiere but I just need it to be bigger!

2-a Jacket or Coat:
It does not matter whether you are going to Hawaii or Canada, if you are like me you will always need a jacket or coat on a plane or bus. It gets really cold on planes-GOD knows why and the little blanket they give you is never enough. Therefore, you can always wrap yourself in your coat when you sleep. Plus the coat or jacket (made in a fabric that does not wrinkle) will make you look presentable and polish- and very hot if it is in leather- after 5 to 8 hours of flight.
3- A long scarf or shoulder wrap
This is optional and it does serve the same purpose as the jacket or coat
4-Toiletries
I know that it is difficult to travel with toiletries such as perfume, toothpaste and hand cream nowadays due to the customs restrictions (thank you very much Al Qaeda). However, I always need them because it so dry on a plane that my skin always cracks. So get them in a 8 oz bottle to go and put them in a Ziploc bag or a travel size case that is see-through. You need a hand cream, a lip balm, tooth brush and paste, a nail file, some make up and deodorant.
5- Medicine
I have a sinus problem. I get really congested on a plane so I pack all my medicine with me and use it whenever I get an attack. I also like to pack extra tissue papers in case my nose starts acting up and a Tylenol for head aches.
6-Comfy shoes
Ballet flats are always very fashionable and comfy on a plane. I hate people who travel with hoochie shoes or high heels. (or with inappropriate clothing for that matter but this is another topic)
7-Extra change of clothes
If you are the target of the travel companies like I am and never receives your luggage at arrival, then you need to pack an extra set of clothing that you can wear upon arrival. And this does include underwear.
8- Entertainment: I Pod or huge book
I know that entertainment has come a long way since I first travel on a plane some 22years ago. Nevertheless I still need a huge book to keep my mind off things at the airport or even on the plane. There is nothing like reading a Nora Roberts or Patricia Cornwell book on a plane. Some other people just use their I pod or other portable device. But me I stick to the book.
9-Extra stuff
Pack:
- tampons just in case the altitude starts messing with your cycle
- another book, magazine or game to entertain yourself in case of long delays
- food in sealed packages such as crackers, chocolates, nutrition bars
- cushions- I see people travel with huge cushions. That is not my style but I am sure it very useful in long flights
- camera just to snap at fun things around
- all your jewelry that you plan on wearing where you are going: my mother in law does not believe in putting your valuable jewelry inside your suitcase. And after staying 5 days without receiving my suitcase while on a trip back home, I started to understand why. So now I always travel with my jewelry in my carry-on. (Shut! do not tell)
-money
10- And last but definitely not least: passport and boarding pass

travel necessities by Sinni

Enjoy your flight!

Thank GOD for the Chinese

Louis Vuitton knock offs- Sources: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-471679/Revealed-The-true-cost-buying-cheap-fake-goods.html

If you are poor like me and love to be fashionable, there is one little secret for you: Knock offs.

There are many things that are being knocked off; from designer dresses to bags, and let us not forget shoes. If you are smart, you can find pretty much everything from big names in the fashion industry at a nice price. Just shop at Forever 21 or check the "black markets" in Asia. Women who cannot afford a $3000 Prada or Fendi bag will get it for even cheaper than $100 in markets in China and South Korea (plus you get to discuss the price; I am sure no one will let you do that at Prada). And if you live in Houston, Texas like I do, you can just hop on to Harwin Street and find the designer -knock off- bag that you are dreaming about for a very affordable price.

And to what do we owe such a pleasure? The Chinese people of course! Those people were smart enough to realise that everybody deserved a Louis Vuitton bag. So what they did was to steal the design and reproduce it one hundred times to sell it for a cheaper price. Of course all of it is very illegal. But who cares?

People from Louis Vuitton and other designers do care. In this economy, they see their sales declining. And they are loosing millions to the black market.

As far as I am concerned, I have mixed feelings. I do hate knock offs for the following reasons:
1- they do look cheap and are not well made
2- they are highly illegal and you could get busted for owning one (particularly at the airports when you travel)
3- it is not fair to the designer
Nevertheless, I still encourage people to buy them. I own a knock off Bottega Veneta weaved bag that I bought several years ago in a discount store. When I was buying it I did not know that it was a Bottega Veneta knock off. I just bought it before travelling back home; it looked great and the bag was big enough to keep all the stuff that I need to travel -and believe me I do need a lot-. I do not follow trends, I buy what I like. And I did-still do- like the bag. When I have it with me, people give me compliments. Just today a cashier at Ross told me that it was lovely. After owning it for 3 years, I came across the picture of the real deal in a fashion magazine. Even in the pics, the bag looked very well made and rich. I know that if you compare it with mine, you could see the difference. But seriously I do not care because I cannot afford the real deal.


The real deal: Bottega Veneta hobo bag $3000 at net-a-porter.com or just $1000 at blufly.com



My Bottega Venetta hobo knock off bought for just 2000 yen ($20) at a discount store in Japan three years ago. Can you see the difference?

Even if I was making millions, I do not see myself "invest" in a 3000 dollars bag. It is too crazy. Imagine what I could do with the same amount of money. I could feed a village for a month (and get good deeds in return), I could treat my Mother for a shopping spree. I could pay my brother stipend for more than 3 months.
Overall, I am happy that the Chinese had the common sense to make knock offs so that poor fashionistas like me do not feel left out.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hijab- Update


I thought I would write a little update concerning my article "Hijab".
I am still in the process of wearing one. But in my moments of doubt, I talked to one of my friends who was wearing the Hijab. She gave me some great advice I would like to share with you.
1- Take one step at the time:
I am a very impatient person. When I want something, I want it right now. I wanted to be able to wear the Hijab right now. So I was on the quest to make my closet hijab friendly. I spent so much money buying scarves, long sleeves tee, dresses that would complete my transformation. However, my friend told me to go slowly. She said that it was good for me to do some research about the importance of hijab, but also to learn about how to wear it before engaging in some shopping spree.
2-Al Amirah Hijab:
My friend said that for starters I just needed two hijabs: one in black and one in white; and preferably Al Amirah Hijab which is a two piece hijab ( a cap and scarf)that is very easy to wear.

3- Shops at Mosque or Muslim Friendly shops
When I told my friend that I did not have a place to shop for hijabs back in Houston, she advice me to check the local mosques or Muslim Shops. As a matter of fact, there is a Muslim shop next to my place that I go to to get Muslim goods. It iscalled Jerusalem Halal Meats. I went there today and got myself two Amirah Hijabs. I also got the time to look at their collection of hijabs and it was very extensive yet affordable.

So far, wearing a scarf around my head has not been a problem. I see myself doing it spontaneously. And now, it even bothers me to go out without a proper head scarf. I know I am not enterily covered like I am supposed to be, but I am getting there. And I think, it is what matters.

Ps: Jerusalem Halal Meat
3330 Hillcroft St # I, Houston, TX‎ -
(713) 784-2525 ‎

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thrift Stores

If you have been following my blog, you probably know two things about me:
1- that I am a shopaholic
2- that I am cheap

In the past, it was hard for me to combine those two. I like to buy things but I do not have the money to do so. I was always looking for some places where I could find really nice things at a bargain price. I thought I have found it at Ross (my favorite shop in the world). Still it was not enough. I thought that they was something I could do to find nice pieces for a cheap price. With this economy, I would have to come up with something If I want to be fashionable and save some dough.

So I did some research to find places where I could get things for a cheap price. Nothing very interesting came up. I was about to give up when I went down a Goodwill store to donate some old clothes of mine. I took a look inside the store and I found pretty interesting stuffs. After a while, I began to shop there.

I know, all the clothes are used, worn, pre-own. But it does not matter to me because of the following reasons:

1- I find pretty exotic items at the Goodwill store. Most of the clothes down there are so old( not old in the piece-they are well preserved- but old in the design), they have this vintage vibe to them. They are probably not from well known designers but who cares. As long as they fit me, I am ready to work it. And where in this world of mine, can I get a vietnamese tunic that is 100% cotton? Not a Khols or Ross.

2- They have long dresses. I have been looking for maxi dresses that have sleeves all over Houston without any success. I was about to give up but look at my surprise when I went down to the Goodwill store. They had all kinds of maxi dresses with sleeves. Ok, some of them were tacky but the rest: pure beauty. I have not found one that quite fit but I am getting there. On the plus side, I found this beauty: a structured long sleeves shirt dress in fushia. It is so 1980 but I do not care, I love the fit on me, and the color is to die for.




3- They have party dresses: I found this oh so lovely, yet glamorous dress once. It was beautiful and If I had a red carpet event (which will probably never happen) or getting hitched again (which will probably never happen either), I would wear it. The skirt was this explosion of tulle. And the waiste had a belt made of beads. It was so gorgeous. And cheap too ($10.00). My only problem with it was that if I bought it, it would probably end up hidden in my closet and this was such a jewel that deserved to be worn. So I put it back on the rack, hoping to find something nicer but less event dress next time.


4- They have designer shoes for less: Last week, I checked another Goodwill store and found these amazing Steve madden peep toe pumps for $7.99. They were gorgeous. The only problem I had with them, is that they do not fit me. But what the hell, I still bought them. I thought I could resell it on Ebay or give it to one of my cousins as a christmas gift.


I guess it was the thought that counted; because today I was rewarded with a find of beige loafers by Enzo Angiolini for $4.99.


5- This has nothing to do with fashion but they have books for less, children's clothes and toys for less ( I am a mother so it matters to me), furnitures. Anything you probably need or just want, they may have it. And there are so many people donating every day that you can find your jewel out there.

I have always been addicted to thrift stores, even when I was living in Japan. Hey, I got hook while living in Japan. I had discovered that people used to recycle items found in their neighbors' garbage. I took out from someone's garbabe a futon, some plates. At first, I thought it to be crazy but after a while I got used to the idea. After all, it was just recycling. Then I began to check out recycling shops (that is how they called them in Japan). I bought so many things from those places: clubbing outfits, a bicyle, a humidifier, plates, bags, toys, books, dresser, couch, mirror, treadmill, bed...For me, going to a recycling shop was like hunting for a treasure because I was always sure I would find something unique and for a cheap price. The only problem that I had for those recycling shops was that they would buy your stuff for almost nothing and resell it for a huge price. To me, it was just a big fraud . So imagine my frustration when I realised that the Goodwill was doing the same, except that it did not buy stuff to resell it, but it was receiving stuff for free.

My next move is to find a place where I could sell stuff ( I have so much) and gain some money. I looked everywhere without much success. That is why I opened a shop online called Sinniature by Assy (My loss, your treasure). With this failing economy, I cannot afford to be a shopaholic, even a cheap one. I need to make money. And I figure out the best way to do it: buy and sell stuff...

PS: I could do it on Ebay but I find it so complicated. Check my blog if you want to get something used but unique: sinniaturebyassy.blogspot.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall- Winter must have.


Winter Must Have by Sinnistre
Fall has finally arrived. The temperatures are dropping, but we can still enjoy the warm sun outside. The colors of the leaves are turning golden then brown. They are gradually falling all over, making gardening a hustle.
On one hand, I am not a big fan of Fall because it means that the cold season is beginning. And I hate being cold. I hate being cold because, I get cold in my limbs even when I have a cozy blanket on. (reason why my husband does not like to snuggle up with me at night-my feet are too cold to rub them on his). I hate being cold because I get sick. The air is so dry that I get congested and cannot breathe. But this is just me.
On the other hand, I love Fall (and Winter) because by covering up, I get to enjoy one of my favorite look: LAYERING. Fall and Winter are all about layering clothes. From the turtle neck to the coat, en passant by the sweater, it is all a bunch of clothes that you can match, mismatch and wear all in hundred of different styles. It is so much fun to get dressed during the cold season.
Here are my must have for the cold season:
- Turtle necks or long sleeve tees:
I prefer some made in cotton because they are breathable. I think the long sleeve thermal or turtle neck is the must have basic item. Buy them in basic colors such as black, white, navy, grey and you can build an entire wardrobe with them. You can wear a sheer dress on top of it or just a sweater. Besides the appeal of being low maintenance, and not so expensive, they can keep you cozy during cold days and nights. As a final note, I have to say that if you want to go bold, you can wear them in colors such as yellow like this woman underneath.

Photo borrowed from hijabstyle.blogspot.com

- Sweaters:
I love sweaters. I like going basic with the turtle necks. However I get wild with my sweaters. I like them in every color possible. I used to live in Japan where everything was grey during Winter. Therefore to cope with the weather, I used to wear colorful sweaters. I own some in pink, green, yellow, pale blue, bright yellow. Name the color, I probably have it. Moreover, I also have some in basic colors because you can never go wrong wearing a classic sweater particularly when you have to be formal at work. I like sweaters of all shapes. I wear the ones with a hood when I need to be casual, and the ones with buttons and belts when I need to go formal.

- Sweater vests: they are also perfect for the layered look. You can wear a dark or light vest over a long sleeves shirt and you look instantly polished. My must have for this season is a argyle sweater vest. They are so cute and feminine in light colors such as cream or pink.

- Sweater Dress: It is such as cute item for Fall. I like to go for the turtle neck and the ones that have puffy sleeves. You can also accessorize with a big belt to make the dress fit.


- Corduroy pants: I do not know why but corduroy (and velvet) pants scream winter to me. They are a bit casual but they can be very comfy and warm.


- Blazers or Jackets : in basic colors they may look sharp. This year is all about cropped jackets. They are very nice paired with a long sleeves shirts or blouses. I also like basic jackets in Suede.

Winter must have by Sinnistre

- Leggings: they can be tacky if you do not know how to wear them. I absolutely dis recommend to wear them as a substitute for pants because leggings can be see-through. And women of curves should stay away from leggings. They are not flattering on you unless you look like Angelina Jolie or a skeleton. So, please wear them with a knee-length sweater dress that is not too tight.

- Bright coats: If you want to make a statement this season, I guess a coat in a bright color should suit you. I am all for basics when it comes to coat but sometimes I like to mix it up a bit. That is why I think that a coat in orange or yellow will not be too bad especially if it is paired with earthy clothes to tone it down a bit.

- Boots: I love boots. They are so cozy. And they make you feel sexy. A boot in basic patent black is high class. I am not a big fan of the booties. I do not understand that shoes but if it is your kind of thing, why not. They can be very sexy paired with a sweater dress and leggings.

- Suede pumps or flats: in brown for classic, in other colors for funky ladies

- Knit hats and scarves: it is all about accessorizing and keeping yourself warm with the knit hat and scarf. I usually get mine from the Gap which makes some cute and fabulous one: remember the one SJP wore on Sex and the City during the New year scene. I am not sure it is from the GAP. However, two years ago they made sparkly knit hats for Winter in gold and silver. I wanted one so bad.


Winter must have 1 by Sinnistre

- A velvet red dress for Xmas or New Year's eve party: I always had a soft spot for velvet red dress. It looks so elegant. 4 years ago I met the perfect party dress at a store in Hachioji Japan. It was a floor length velvet red dress with a deep V in front, and a Chinese style belt. It was so gorgeous. I wanted it so bad but considering that the only partying I would be doing for the end of the year was inside my bed with my hubby, I just could not buy it at that time. I said to myself I will wait until I have a real party to get it. Tow weeks later, I still wanted the dress and decided to get it no matter what. Surprise Surprise, when I arrived to the store it was gone. They just had the black version left and it was not as marvellous as the red one. Too bad!!!!

These are my cold season must have items.

Yesterday, I went through my suitcases to take out all my winter clothes since it was getting colder. I found stuff that I still wanted but some of my sweaters seriously needed to be given to the Goodwill ( I had them for more than 5 years now). I recommend checking your closet for what you need before going out on a shopping spree. By doing this you can avoid buying some of the same items. Furthermore, by making a list of all you need this season, you will not be tempted to buy stuff by impulse (but lets be real, what woman does not buy clothes on impulse? As far as I am concerned I never stick to the list)

Happy Winter....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hijab


I am about to make the most important decision of my life: I am planning to wear the Hijab.

For those of you who do not know what is a Hijab, here is a simple explanation taken from Wikipedia: "The common meaning of Hijab currently is of "modest dress for women," which most Islamic legal systems define as covering everything except the face and hands in public." In other words, the Hijab would represent the kind of modest dress for Muslim Women such as a veil that will cover the head, hair, ears, neck, and upper torso but also loose fitting clothes that will not allow the body shape to be recognized.
A Muslim woman while dressing should be modest. She should not reveal her features to the world except for other women and male members of her close family ( husband, father, brothers). She is not suppose to unveil in front of every man that can become her husband and this include: uncles, cousins, friends and so on.
For years, I knew that as a Muslim woman I was expected to wear the Hijab. However, being into fashion myself, I found it hard to follow this recommendation. Wearing the Hijab would mean that I had to give up wearing short skirts or sexy tops. Moreover It would mean that I had given up on lively passions and would concentrate on becoming a very pious Muslim woman. The Hijab does not only represent a dress code, it is also a way of life. And I knew I was not ready to change my way of life anytime soon. I am sinner what can I say?
Lately, I started to think about wearing the Hijab. A series of things happened that triggered this thought. The wife of one of my husband's friend was wearing the Hijab. She does it very loosely but she was still covering herself better than I was. I asked her about it and she said that she started to wear it after her husband asked her to do so. It was a new way of life for her and sometimes she even resented wearing it. (She was pregnant and hot so I could understand her lack of patience towards covering). Nevertheless, the more I was with her, the more I started to think that wearing a Hijab or at least a scarf around my head was not so bad. I liked scarves anyway.
After that came Ramadan. During the Holy month it was a"hypocrite" habit of mine, to cover my head with a scarf whenever I would go out. This time I kept the tradition but even after Eid, I just could not stop. Whenever I would go out, I would wear a scarf to cover my head.
Soon enough, I became to notice women wearing Hijabs around me, at the grocery stores, at the mall, while driving. It seems like they were everywhere. It shook me the same way I was shook to see pregnant women popping everywhere when I became pregnant. I would look attentively at those Hijab wearing women, noticing their styles. Some like the Ethiopians just wear loose clothes like long sleeves shirts and floor length skirts and wrap a scarf around their heads. Some other like the Arabs I think, wear the Hijab with fancy fashionable clothes. And some other groups will cover themselves with a black cloak like in Iran.
And finally, my husband in his path of becoming the perfect Muslim, asked me if I was considering wearing the Hijab. I answered that I was but that I did not need pressure from him. It was a very important decision that would take on my own. And I knew it would be something that would not happen overnight so I needed him to be patient.
And here I am today, still thinking about it. I am scared of what wearing the Hijab will mean for me. It will mean that I am ready to let go of the existence of earthy pleasure and concentrate more on becoming spiritual. It would mean, no more mini skirts (like I was wearing some?), no more tights jeans, no more going to the hair stylist to have my hair done (actually, the last thing would be good coz I would not need to spend money on that), no more going out dancing ( I have not been going out dancing in 4 years anyway).
More than having to let go of my earthy pleasures, I am scared of what my family and close friends will react. In my family no one wears the Hijab. My father who is a Muslim and my Mother who is christian are set on me being decent, but they never said anything about wearing a Hijab. My Dad used to consider Hijab wearing women like people who think of themselves highly because they thought that by wearing the Hijab they were following the right path, and women who did not were on the wrong path. He thought that only wearing the Hijab did not guarantee a free pass to Heave. I do not know what he will say now if he saw me wearing a hijab. I know some of my friends would be shocked and Hijab wearing ones would be thrilled for me, but I know that overall they will support me in that decision.
Most importantly, I am afraid of what people at work will say. I have never reveal to them that I was Muslim-I thought that it was not relevant-. I do not know how they will react. Furthermore, I am scared of what job opportunities I will have if I decide to look for another job. Imagine the look on people's face when I showed up at interviews with a suit and a Hijab? I know they cannot refuse me employment based on that- it is illegal- but they can always say no to me pretexting my lack of skills or experience.
Finally I am scared that I will get into wearing Hijab and decide one day that I was tired of it. I am the type of person who needs constant change. I hate having to have the same hair style for more than a month; I grew bored of a topic for research after 3 months. I never seem to stick to something I start like running twice a week. So imagine how I must feel about it particularly when I know that it is not a light matter like a hair style but something that may decide my future after death.
With all these fears, I think that I want to wear the Hijab. I am just confused as the how and when. I am in the process of doing it: I am wearing a scarf everyday when I go out, I stopped wearing short skirts or open necked tops. I am purchasing scarves and long sleeves tees. And for the last two days, one of my favorite activity is to check this blog called hijabstyle in which a Hijab wearing woman from the UK is letting us know how to wear a hijab and be fashionable. She just opened my eyes into so much. I was so happy to discover her blog which is my new fashion magazine.
Over all, I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about it. And someday (soon hopefully INCHALLAH), I will let you know that I became a Hijab wearing woman no matter what the obstacles and the fears. My best friend used to tell me that once you put your mind into doing something-that GOD approves of-, HE will make things easier for me to achieve them no matter the obstacles. And I believe her. So let the miracle happen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shopaholic


(Picture from the soon to be released movie Confessions of a Shopaholic )
Last week, on my day off, I was watching the Tyra Banks Show. The topic of the day was Shopaholics. Tyra had three women as guests talked about what made them shopaholic. Most of them wanted to shop all the times, to buy nice things ( particularly clothes) for themselves. It made them feel better but scared at the same time. They were scared because they were spending so much money all the while hiding it to their husbands.
The show made me think about my relationship with shopping. I love to shop. What woman does not? When I was a kid, I was never given the opportunity to go shop by myself. My parents always bought things for me. And I could indulge myself only if I save enough of my allowance.
However, things changed when I went to college. I had this extravagant scholarship that was more than enough for college dorm, books, and living expanses. Therefore, it became a habit for me to spend some of that money buying myself stuff that I wanted and rarely needed. It was such a guilty pleasure to be able to blow away some cash with my best friend, specially after a long week of exams. We used to call shopping our stress reliever. It was such fun to go out window shopping, trying on outrageous outfits, and having a big burger at the end of an exhausted yet satisfying day with my best friend. As the college years went by, the habit of shopping did not fade. I would do it even by myself, just enjoying some alone time. I would not necessarily buy anything, but just window shopping made me feel good (or bad depending on the days).
When I got married, my guilty pleasure became an obsession. I was not copying very well to the living together part. And moving to a new city and into a new creme de la creme university became a huge stresser. Every day after school, I would spend hours walking by shopping hot spots, trying to find unique fashion items at a very affordable price. Buying new things make me feel better about myself. The fact that I had to hide it from my husband made me feel bad. But not as bad as to stop it. After a while, I kept piling clothes and shoes that I never wore. As a result, I would send cases of basically new clothes to my cousins back home who were more than happy to receive them. This made me feel good. It gave me another reason/excuse to shop. I told myself: even if I do not wear it, I could always give it away.
I know I am a shopaholic because even now with this crazy recession, I cannot wait to get a day off to hit discount stores and other favorite places. I still have bags of clothes that I never wear. And only last week, I donated 2 bags full of clothes to a donation center (and after that I shopped in the donation center. Thank GOD my husband indulged me this time). My husband was criticizing me for buying things that I ended up giving away with this bad economy. I felt bad but he was right.
Nevertheless, I know the difference between those women featured in the Tyra Banks show and me. At least I do not blow 500 to 2000 dollars a day on a shopping spree. No sir! I limit my craziness to less than a 50 dollars a week.
Look what I just did: I am trying to make myself feeling less guilty by thinking that if it is just 50 dollars a week, it must be OK. The eternal Shopaholic excuse.
I need help. But before I do get one, I need to go shopping again....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cheap shopper

I am cheap. I prefer buying 10 pair of shoes at $10.00 each rather than 1 at $100. I prefer quantity to quality.
However what is quality? Is it a shoe made by a famous brand like Manolo's or Jimmy Choo? Or is it just the quality of the material it is made of, the time taken to make it and the craftsmanship?
People tend to believe that because it is a brand, it has to be of good quality. I had my fair share of brands that were not as reliable as they advertised.
I used to be addicted to the Spanish Brand Zara while living in Japan because it was the only store where I could buy pants my size. I liked Zara pants, skirts and dresses. I still own the clothes I bought from Zara after 5 years. They are not damaged or even have their color faded after intensive washing. However, I noticed that Zara shoes were not as well made as the other items. I never bought their shoes but two of my closest friends did. They showed me their damaged heels stressing that it was just the second or third time they were wearing the shoes.
When you live on a budget like I do, you cannot afford to blow $100, or more on a pair of shoes or bags/particularly when you have a shoe or bag addiction. Do not get me wrong, I would love to own those fish bone stilettos from Guiseppe whatever or some Christian Louboutin. But how can I justify blowing $500 on a pair of shoes I would probably never wear. And even if I do wear them, I would not want them to be scratched or peeled.
Do Payless shoes peel easier than Enzo Angiolini shoes? Well, I owned a pair of white shoes from Payless (cost: $8on sale) and pale pink stilettos by Enzo ($70) and guess what, they peeled the first day I wore them, the same way (the heel got stuck in a hole on the pavement). I was mad but I was even madder that the Payless peeled because these are a pair of shoes I wwanted to wear everyday for work. The Enzo shoes were worn just once for a special occasion (after being bought years before and stored under my bed waiting for a good occasion to be showcased)
Payless shoes
Peel at the lower part of the heel
Enzo Angiolini Shoes
Peel on both heels


This not so very peachy experience taught me that it was okay to stay cheap. My lifestyle is not fabulous or lavish therefore I do not need those Louboutin. I may want them but this is another story. I will still shop at Payless or other cheap places. And If I need something extra sparkly and fabulous, I can check Macy's or Neiman Marcus (in my dreams). And who knows, I can even be lucky and get a fabulous pair of designer shoes for an affordable price like these Calvin Klein Madelyn ballet flats bought at $19.99 (minus taxes) at Ross store two days ago.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How my style changed over the years (part II)

My blossoming years did not stop when I moved to Japan some 6 months after I joined the local university. On the contrary, I became myself in Japan. I was no longer this tomboy who would hide her curves, or just this little vixen wannabe. I was me. I dressed the way I wanted without caring about what people may say or think. I was set free because of the way Japanese people my age dressed. If you know anything about Japanese Fashion, you will understand that it is very expressive. It is bold and not particularly attractive. It is in your face. I used to hate it because it was so different from my background. Nowadays, I like it even though I would never dress like that-I think-. Here is an idea of what is Japanese Fashion:

from: http://fs1.us.cyworld.com/data2/2006/11/06/042/1162868042915018_file.jpg
I was dressing the way I wanted and it was not that bad. I am sure I had some Fashion Police moments like when I wore this flowy white dress- I am pretty sure now that it was a nightgown-to a club one night. However, it was not so bad altogether. I even managed to score major points among my Japanese girlfriends who thought that I had a great style. I was becoming something of a fashion icon.
In Japan, I also became a clubber. Once a month, I would hit the hip-hop club scene in Osaka or Tokyo. I began to purchase clubbing clothes that are very much hoochie mama when you come to think of it. I did not know that back in the days. I was just experimenting. One night, I had this long green leather skirt and boots on at a club. Needless to say that, after less than 13 minutes on the dance floor I was sweating like a pig . Another time, I wore this oversize grey sweat pants with an open back tiny white top, men's white shirt and reptile skin wedge sandals with matching handbag (I missed those-they were so classy and comfy). I guess, I was young and for the first time in my life I was in an environment where I was considered unique, hence exotic and pretty. I loved it.
After a while-and due to my boyfriend/now husband- I began to mature. I stopped clubbing. I began to concentrate on the future. I also gained weight. So I ditched the tight tops and tight pants and opted for some flowy blouses and tops. I also wanted to become more feminine so I began purchasing dresses and skirts. This is my style now and it suits me very well because my weight has been shifting for so long(marriage, school, pregnancy,big move across the ocean, baby and all kind of things life throws at you). And it is very comfy. I like being comfy.
Everybody has a signature look: Xtina Aguillera has her pink/ red lipstick, Vera Wang has her tights. For me it is a pair of jeans with a flowy top or blouse, a pair of ballet flats and an oversize bag. I would accessorize with chunky necklaces and bracelets. No make up (I was never a fan). Sometimes, just to spice things up, I would opt for some maxi dresses or skirts with bold patterns, and some bright platform shoes.
These are a few of my favorite styles (from wetseal.com , gojane.com and target.com)
1- Flowy flannel top with wide leg jeans and sandals




2- Flowy top with black skirt and flats




3- More polished- wrapped dress plus heels




4- Bold print maxi dress with bright orange wedge(victoriassecret.com)


Nevertheless, my only wish is to have a makeover and shift this style. I want to become more polished, I want to opt for more form fitted, structured looks (GOD, I talk like Stacy and Clinton from What not to Wear). I want to have that formal look the working women/mothers have. Nothing over the top like Laura from season 3 of Project Runaway, but something nice and sophisticated. I think that I can only accomplish that look if I get a real job (not part time and working with children like I do), working in an office, doing important stuff and getting a real salary out of it. So until then, I guess this breezy style of mine will have to do.

How my style changed over the years (part I)

I love Fashion.
This is an over-statement because like some other people (Rachel Zoe is one I discovered recently) I do not breathe, live or die for fashion. I am just a little addict. Nothing over the top...or over my bank account.

I love Fashion. And I hope I do have a sense of style because like someone famous said: " You can buy fashion but you cannot buy style"

My sense of style changed considerably through the years. When I was 6-7 years old, I loved colorful, flowery, pretty dresses. I was absolutely in love with this two piece blue top and plaid wrapped skirts (Like the Scottish) that I would wear with blue Mary Jane's. I would put on that ensemble whenever I was invited to something special like a birthday party.

My plaid outfit during a party in Switzerland


At age 9-10, a friend of my father gave me this absolutely romantic, dramatic bright yellow dresses with tulle. I looked like a ballerina or a barbie wearing it. I loved it so much that I did not wait for a special occasion to put it on. I wore it at school underneath my uniform blue blouse. I even opened the blouse to show it all off to my classmates during recess and on my way back home. I was so vain, even at 10!
When I grew curves, I become conscious of my body, but also of the looks of people around me. Everybody was starting to notice my huge behind. My classmates even made fun of me. It was so intolerable that I transformed myself into an introvert dresser: I would wear baggy clothes-sweatshirts and jeans that I would steal from my father or brothers. My mother absolutely hated it. Top that with a trucker hat and I was in disguise.

One of my tomboy disguise during a Xmas celebration at home. This one is a dress up version: silk shirt from Thailand with black tights and the very fashionable (at that time)Nike Air Pump


I loved being a tomboy, because no one would notice me. It did have some drawbacks particularly when you are madly in love with the boy next door and his type of girl is the little vixen of the town (she was 13 year old and needless to say that I hated her). Although, I would have loved the attention that girl was getting from all the boys (she was very popular), I did not even try to become like her because it was not my style. I did try sometimes to be sexy: at parties I would show up dressed in a tight skirt or flattering dress. And I would feel great that boys would notice me and even try to hook up with me. However, it did not boost my confidence because the boy I liked did not pay me any attention. I became very depressed one day when my own brother told me that I was not sexy. I just let it go after a while. Nevertheless, the one thing interesting I found out about boys was that the moment I stopped trying to become sexy and just be myself (wearing clothes I like-being a short skirt,dress or even jean), they would like me more. I would wear this very old wrapped sarong with a green tank top and show up at my boyfriend's favorite hang out with his boys. All of them would fall head over heels because they thought I was stunning. My boyfriend called me crazy to walk around like this. I did not see the problem; my outfit was not special. The problem was that I was this bomb walking around with fitting clothes that did not leave a lot to a young boy's imagination. I did not even notice. How naive was that?
Something happened to my style of tomboy after a graduated from high school. All my school life (14 years) I have been in an all girls' school, and wearing dreadful uniforms. But in 1998, I moved to the local university with a huge campus filled with boys/men/potential suitors. The fact that I was surrounded by boys instinctively left a signal on my mind that I should change all this tomboy nonsense and become a girl. I started to dig out all the girly clothes my mother bought me over the years that I just hide in the back of my closet. It became a pleasure to dress up every day, particularly when you received approving nods from the boys' club. I did not care so much about what people would say about my curves (I did loose some baby fat). Au contraire, I was pleased that the pencil skirt I would wore flattered my thighs, or that the velvety short skirt would enhance my toned legs. However, I did not completely ditch the tomboy look. I still feel comfy with over sized men's shirt and jeans; the only difference was that now I was wearing tighter jeans.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fashion magazines


I recently had 5 days off from work. I had made plans to go to the movies, but it is not fun if I am by myself. So, I raided the Walmart one day in search of good scent that can add some pizazz to my house, and a new pair of jeans to add pizazz to my figure. At the cashier, I also grab the September issue of InStyle magazine.

My husband is always bugging me not to buy fashion magazines-maybe because he finds them silly-.I used to listen to him. I mean, it costs between $2.99 to $5 to get a magazine in this country. Do not call me frugal but if I was to buy Instyle magazine every month, I can add $50 to my bills yearly. $50 equals a new outfit and accessories for me, so do the math. Plus you can have access to those magazines online practically for free so why bother?

Well, I do bother from time to time, because I like the fact that I can go through from pages to pages, taking my time to absorb all the details and pictures. It is fun, particularly when you are sitting in a cozy chair, sipping on some latte (so cliche).

As much as I enjoy "browsing" magazines from cover to cover, there are plenty of things I find annoying in them.

1- tons of commercial. Have you ever open Instyle or Glamour magazines? The first 50 pages (I counted)are dedicated to advertisement. It is disgusting. If I took the time to count all the advertisement pages inside the magazine (I just counted the first 50 and got exhausted), I am sure that they account for more than half of the magazines. I understand that those magazines cost to publish and advertisement is the best way to gain money. But come on!!!! Let us check the latest style without having product placement thrown at our faces.
2- Talking about product placement, in the pages of InStyle you will find several (tons of) items that are suggested to you. In this fall issue, different wardrobe styles are featured to please everybody, everybody but me. What are the odds to find a piece that I truly like and would want to purchase? I guess not many. The editors place product that are likely to serve the interest of the designer but not the buyer. I mean, let us be real, who dresses like that? The only thing I found interesting, wearable, and affordable are these Lela rose for payless shoes

I cannot wait to go buy them. Actually since the BOGO sale is going on, I can get those puppies and another nice pair.

3- Prices: I am crazy about fashion. But let me admit that I am not crazy about the cost of everything that is fashionable. A thousand dollars for a dress? Why? Because it has a small label attached to its back that says it was design by Chanel? Truth be told, it was surely designed by Karl Lagarfeld, but probably made by some third world child, being forced to work for less than minimum wage. So, just for those reasons, I will not rush to buy the latest Prada bag (which I find ugly anyway) even if I could afford it. By the way, this is the latest Prada Nappa bag made with leather of lace and costing $1950. Are you Shitting me?

Seriously, I would like to know if half of the women who buy InStyle magazine, will purchase something that was featured in it that cost more than $200? Maybe not! Then, why feature those items? Are there not any magazines for the poor out there?

I suppose that the reason why InStyle like magazines show us all those glamorous things (that I may or may never be able to purchase-depends if my writing career takes off) is that they want us to dream. It is like the movies, they make you imagine if you were somebody else. Maybe that is the greatest reason why I purchase those magazines, for the dream that someday I will be able to afford those gowns, those shoes, those bags; for the dream that maybe someday I will be able to dress like Nina Garcia-sophisticated and lady-like.

So until that dream is fulfilled, I guess I will keep on buying fashion magazines, hoping and praying for either of these following things: that some genius comes up with a hip-trendy fashion magazine for the poor or middle class people- or that I become rich like Oprah. Between us I prefer the second dream, don't you?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michelle Obama and the View


Yesterday I watched the View, and it happened to be the day Michelle Obama was co-hosting with the ladies. I was waiting for that day but I forgot about it for some reasons. Good thing I thought of turning the TV on while doing the chores.
So I watched as the potential next first lady swim through the sinuous waters of an hour long talk show in company of sharks but also goldfishes of the View.
Michelle Obama was as usual very articulate, poised, funny and fabulous. She answered the questions with that same candor that she is known of , and she did not engage in some fist fight with Elisabeth like the people from fox news (I hate that channel)predicted.
The more I watched her, the more I was charmed. Obama got a good woman by his side. And,everyday I am more and more drawn to that couple. I can understand why people from the other party, fear them so much that they feel the need to attack Michelle Obama. And I think it is just the beginning because this campaign is bound to get nastier.
Nevertheless, I just wanted to talk fashion, not politics.
I like watching the View because of the opinions the ladies stress everyday. They have so much to talk about. I enjoy the free chit-chat about life in general that makes me laugh out loud, or just think a bit more. However, I watch it also to check the clothes. I enjoyed pretty much everything that Elisabeth put one. I think her sense of style (or at least her stylist) is very good. When she was pregnant, she used to wear those t-shirt dresses or tunic dresses that I loved so much. I even wrote to her one day just to ask where she got them (like I could afford them?). So as a habit, even when I do not have the time to watch the show entirely, I checked the ladies'entrance just to have a glimpse of what they are putting on.
Yesterday, I mostly concentrated myself on Michelle Obama's entrance. She had this gorgeous dress from White House, Black Market (I do not know much about this brand, but I find the name a bit offensive-will discuss it later in another post). It was a sleeveless knee-length floral dress, that she garnished with a black brooch. She was gorgeous and the outfit seemed effortless. Of course the ladies complemented her and even compared her to Jackie- O. (later that day, some woman on CNN said that she was not Jackie O. I do not know if she meant that Michelle Obama was not as "efface" as Jackie O or that she was not as fashionable as she was, but that comment made me mad). Whoppie even said that Michelle Obama gives another image of the black woman on TV. And she is right. Most black women on TV are dressed like Hoochie Mamas or too conservative (do not get me started on Condie Rice). Michelle Obama is like a breeze of fresh air. She is not a size 0, she is tall, her hair is well coiffed. She may not be the most attractive woman out there but she has a certain grace to her. That is the reason why she is liked.
I do not know how the people of this country are going to vote in November, but I wish the best to the Obama camp. Michelle will make a great first lady. She already has the qualities to it.
PS: As I thought, the sales of the White House Black Market dress that Michelle Obama wore (it cost $148 by the way) skyrocketed in just a day. And my favorite shop of all: Ross, put out all its White House Black Market lookalike sleevless black and white floral print knee-length dresses. Just hilarious how the Fashion industry works?!!!

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