Month: August 2015

Perfect Apartment Layout

When I saw this on Pintrest, the caption read ‘all I need’.

For once, the caption captures exactly what I was thinking.

This is the dream.

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If I Had The Skills To Make My Own YouTube Videos…

… I would make one that was just pictures of John Krasinski with the song ‘You’re Still The One’ playing.

Why you ask? Because he is now officially my longest standing celebrity crush.

Sorry, Chad Michael Murray (2002-2006).

Instead, I will post them seperately and ask you to imagine how amazing it could be.
Call it a workout for your imagination. You’re welcome.

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Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

Say hi to Lucy.

Lucy is part of Generation Y, the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid 1990s.  She’s also part of a yuppie culture that makes up a large portion of Gen Y.

I have a term for yuppies in the Gen Y age group—I call them Gen Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies, or GYPSYs.  A GYPSY is a unique brand of yuppie, one who thinks they are the main character of a very special story.
So Lucy’s enjoying her GYPSY life, and she’s very pleased to be Lucy.  Only issue is this one thing:
Lucy’s kind of unhappy.
To get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place.  It comes down to a simple formula:
It’s pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone’s life is better than they had expected, they’re happy.  When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they’re unhappy.
To provide some context, let’s start by bringing Lucy’s parents into the discussion:

Lucy’s parents were born in the 50s—they’re Baby Boomers.  They were raised by Lucy’s grandparents, members of the G.I. Generation, or “the Greatest Generation,” who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II, and were most definitely not GYPSYs.

Lucy’s Depression Era grandparents were obsessed with economic security and raised her parents to build practical, secure careers.  They wanted her parents’ careers to have greener grass than their own, and Lucy’s parents were brought up to envision a prosperous and stable career for themselves.  Something like this:

They were taught that there was nothing stopping them from getting to that lush, green lawn of a career, but that they’d need to put in years of hard work to make it happen.

After graduating from being insufferable hippies, Lucy’s parents embarked on their careers.  As the 70s, 80s, and 90s rolled along, the world entered a time of unprecedented economic prosperity.  Lucy’s parents did even better than they expected to.  This left them feeling gratified and optimistic.

With a smoother, more positive life experience than that of their own parents, Lucy’s parents raised Lucy with a sense of optimism and unbounded possibility.  And they weren’t alone.  Baby Boomers all around the country and world told their Gen Y kids that they could be whatever they wanted to be, instilling the special protagonist identity deep within their psyches.

This left GYPSYs feeling tremendously hopeful about their careers, to the point where their parents’ goals of a green lawn of secure prosperity didn’t really do it for them.  A GYPSY-worthy lawn has flowers.
This leads to our first fact about GYPSYs:

GYPSYs Are Wildly Ambitious

The GYPSY needs a lot more from a career than a nice green lawn of prosperity and security.  The fact is, a green lawn isn’t quite exceptional or unique enough for a GYPSY.  Where the Baby Boomers wanted to live The American Dream, GYPSYs want to live Their Own Personal Dream.

Cal Newport points out that “follow your passion” is a catchphrase that has only gotten going in the last 20 years, according to Google’s Ngram viewer, a tool that shows how prominently a given phrase appears in English print over any period of time.  The same Ngram viewer shows that the phrase “a secure career” has gone out of style, just as the phrase “a fulfilling career” has gotten hot.
To be clear, GYPSYs want economic prosperity just like their parents did—they just also want to be fulfilled by their career in a way their parents didn’t think about as much.
But something else is happening too.  While the career goals of Gen Y as a whole have become much more particular and ambitious, Lucy has been given a second message throughout her childhood as well:
This would probably be a good time to bring in our second fact about GYPSYs:

GYPSYs Are Delusional

“Sure,” Lucy has been taught, “everyone will go and get themselves some fulfilling career, but I am unusually wonderful and as such, my career and life path will stand out amongst the crowd.”  So on top of the generation as a whole having the bold goal of a flowery career lawn, each individual GYPSY thinks that he or she is destined for something even better—
A shiny unicorn on top of the flowery lawn.  
So why is this delusional?  Because this is what all GYPSYs think, which defies the definition of special:

spe-cial| ‘speSHel |
adjective
better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual.

According to this definition, most people are not special—otherwise “special” wouldn’t mean anything.

Even right now, the GYPSYs reading this are thinking, “Good point…but I actually am one of the few special ones”—and this is the problem.
A second GYPSY delusion comes into play once the GYPSY enters the job market.  While Lucy’s parents’ expectation was that many years of hard work would eventually lead to a great career, Lucy considers a great career an obvious given for someone as exceptional as she, and for her it’s just a matter of time and choosing which way to go.  Her pre-workforce expectations look something like this:
Unfortunately, the funny thing about the world is that it turns out to not be that easy of a place, and the weird thing about careers is that they’re actually quite hard.  Great careers take years of blood, sweat and tears to build—even the ones with no flowers or unicorns on them—and even the most successful people are rarely doing anything that great in their early or mid-20s.
But GYPSYs aren’t about to just accept that.
Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has “unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback,” and “an inflated view of oneself.”  He says that “a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.”
For those hiring members of Gen Y, Harvey suggests asking the interview question, “Do you feel you are generally superior to your coworkers/classmates/etc., and if so, why?”  He says that “if the candidate answers yes to the first part but struggles with the ‘why,’ there may be an entitlement issue. This is because entitlement perceptions are often based on an unfounded sense of superiority and deservingness. They’ve been led to believe, perhaps through overzealous self-esteem building exercises in their youth, that they are somehow special but often lack any real justification for this belief.”
And since the real world has the nerve to consider merit a factor, a few years out of college Lucy finds herself here:
Lucy’s extreme ambition, coupled with the arrogance that comes along with being a bit deluded about one’s own self-worth, has left her with huge expectations for even the early years out of college.  And her reality pales in comparison to those expectations, leaving her “reality – expectations” happy score coming out at a negative.
And it gets even worse.  On top of all this, GYPSYs have an extra problem that applies to their whole generation:

GYPSYs Are Taunted

Sure, some people from Lucy’s parents’ high school or college classes ended up more successful than her parents did.  And while they may have heard about some of it from time to time through the grapevine, for the most part they didn’t really know what was going on in too many other peoples’ careers.
Lucy, on the other hand, finds herself constantly taunted by a modern phenomenon: Facebook Image Crafting.
Social media creates a world for Lucy where A) what everyone else is doing is very out in the open, B) most people present an inflated version of their own existence, and C) the people who chime in the most about their careers are usually those whose careers (or relationships) are going the best, while struggling people tend not to broadcast their situation.  This leaves Lucy feeling, incorrectly, like everyone else is doing really well, only adding to her misery:

So that’s why Lucy is unhappy, or at the least, feeling a bit frustrated and inadequate.  In fact, she’s probably started off her career perfectly well, but to her, it feels very disappointing.

Here’s my advice for Lucy:
1) Stay wildly ambitious.  The current world is bubbling with opportunity for an ambitious person to find flowery, fulfilling success.  The specific direction may be unclear, but it’ll work itself out—just dive in somewhere.
2) Stop thinking that you’re special.  The fact is, right now, you’re not special.  You’re another completely inexperienced young person who doesn’t have all that much to offer yet.  You can become special by working really hard for a long time.
3) Ignore everyone else. Other people’s grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today’s image crafting world, other people’s grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you’ll never have any reason to envy others.

ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS: It’s Just What It Sounds Like

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HELLO MY NAME IS KEVIN YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL WOW. I LIKE LONG WALKS ON THE BEACH OR IN THE CITY OR ANYWHERE REALLY AND ALSO FOOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SHOWED UP AND HAVE ALL YOUR LEGS. I HOPE YOU’RE AS HAPPY AS I AM ABOUT THIS DATE BECAUSE I’M NEW TO TINDER AND I DON’T DO THIS OFTEN AT ALL.

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DANNY, MAN, YOU NEED TO PERK UP. IT’S A PARTY.

AT THE SAME TIME YOU NEED TO CHILL OUT, THOUGH. YOUR MOOD IS ONE OF PALPABLE TENSION AND IT’S MAKING EVERYONE ABOUT 12% LESS LOOSEY-GOOSEY THAN THEY SHOULD BE. WE CAN’T HAVE THAT. EVERYONE WANTS TO BE FULLY L-G.

SO, TO RECAP, YOU NEED TO FORGET ABOUT YOUR BREAKUP AND REMEMBER ABOUT PARTIES. PERKY BUT CHILL. INTO A GOOD TIME BUT OUT OF SHITS TO GIVE.

TAKE ME AS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THE REQUIRED DICHOTOMY. UP TOP I’M ALL PARTY, HENCE THE HAT. DOWNTOWN WE FIND ME SO CHILLED OUT THAT I REFUSE TO USE MY LEGS AND HAVE KEVIN HERE CARRY ME FROM PLACE TO PLACE. THAT’S THE MOOD AND ATTITUDE WE’RE GOING FOR.

WOULD IT HELP IF I HAD KEVIN GRAB YOU A BURGER? HMMM? THEY’RE DYNAMITE. THEY’VE GOT CHORIZO IN THEM.

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DAN, YOU’RE MAKING IT INCREDIBLY HARD FOR ME TO WALK.

WELL, YOU’RE MAKING IT INCREDIBLY HARD FOR ME TO BREATHE, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.

YES, RIGHT, BUT YOU’RE ALSO HURTING MY EAR.

THE EAR THAT IS INSIDE MY EYE RIGHT NOW, FILLING THAT EYE WITH THE ONLY THING I WANT TO LOOK AT FOREVER, WHICH IS YOU?

YES, MOST LIKELY, AND THAT IS SWEET, BUT WHAT I’M  TRYING TO SAY IS-

THAT YOU LOVE ME TOO? FOREVER? BECAUSE WE ARE TOTALLY SOULMATES?

DOES ONE SOULMATE OFTEN PREVENT THE OTHER FROM WALKING IN A STRAIGHT LINE? IS THAT HOW IT WORKS?

SURE. IT’S PROBABLY ALL THE WEAK KNEES AND SWOONING YOU’RE EXPERIENCING FROM BEING IN LOVE WITH ME SO HARD.

DAN, IT’S YOUR HEAD, WHICH IS SMOOSHED DIRECTLY INTO THE SIDE OF MY HEAD, FORCING ME INTO TREES AND BUSHES.

FORCING YOU INTO LOVE, YOU MEAN.

GOD DAMN IT, DAN.

Banish Morning Tantrums Forever With Stylist’s Guide To Creating The Ultimate Wardrobe Edit

Ever have those days when you really truly hate everything in your wardrobe? Stylist’s Alix Walker goes in search of a smarter way to get dressed in the morning

Recently I was forced to send a grovelling apology text to my husband: “I’m so sorry I called you a selfish **** before 7am. I realise you’re not trying to ruin my life because I forgot to wash my black jeans. But you have to understand, I couldn’t find ANYTHING to wear!” Wardrobe rage – that irrational anger which causes you to throw every item of clothing you own on the floor and scream expletives at your jeans because you cannot find a single outfit that doesn’t make you look horrendous – can be responsible for some pretty bad behaviour. As the minutes tick closer to your morning meeting, it seems perfectly logical to throw the shoes you once loved at the nearest window.

The truth is, like many British women, I have a lot to wear. Last month alone I bought some printed trousers from Zara, a grey coat from Cos and a bright pink scarf from J Crew and added them to a wardrobe already stuffed with clothes. Research has found we spend 20% of our income on work clothes, equating to around £4,000 a year, which sounds pretty accurate to me. So why have I nearly gone to work dressed in my underwear at least three times in the last month?

I blame my complete scattergun approach to dressing. Working for a fashion magazine I have a fairly decent knowledge of what’s on trend. I know the labels I love –Kenzo, Whistles, Acne, APC, Zara – and I don’t, as a rule, get too swayed by what’s on the catwalk. But I buy without purpose or plan and consequently, when I got those Zara trousers home I realised I didn’t have a single pair of shoes to wear them with (much like other women in the UK who spend £3.5billion on shoes, two thirds of which never make it out of the box). So they got shoved to the back of the wardrobe, tags remaining, taunting me.

I’ve often wondered if there’s a more strategic way to approach getting dressed. One which reduces time spent angrily throwing clothes around the bedroom and prevents the £1.6billion women waste on clothing we will never wear (an average of 22 items in every wardrobe). And although I’m aware that this is the most first world of problems, it is a major time zapper when time comes at such a premium. So, testing the new breed of fashion apps, personal shoppers and other fashion solutions I went in search of a better way to get dressed.

Style Guide

We use technology to hail taxis and record our sleep rhythms – surely that magical Clueless wardrobe app, which we were promised almost 20 years ago has been developed? There are a wealth of pretenders to the Clueless crown; Closet, for example, helps you categorise your outfits and keep you up to date with what you’ve worn; Polyvore provides fashion inspiration by allowing users to create shoppable collages by mixing and matching products and styles. But by far the most exciting option is IStyleMyself.

Ex-Goldman Sachs banker Diana Tkhamadokova has created a unique algorithm which generates looks for its users based on their profile (it takes into account hair colour and body shape), clothes in your own wardrobe and tens of thousands of garments available to buy online. Most crucially, by teaming up with former Tatler fashion director Hannah Teare, the generated looks are actually on trend and desirable – a first in this market. The process is timeconsuming – you have to take a photograph of everything in your wardrobe to generate looks – but it did throw up some really wearable outfits which I wouldn’t have thought of and suggested the perfect Reiss slippers to make those trousers work. This app provides inspiration for anyone stuck in a style rut and taught me to look more closely at what I already own. It also highlighted that while I have some great key pieces, I lack some classic basics that pull everything together.

Closet Detox

Fashion apps which help you apply logic to your wardrobe are all well and good, but let’s be frank, fashion is rarely logical. Simply opening our wardrobes in the morning can proffer a startling range of emotions – guilt over the dress you’ll never wear; depression when you see your ‘thin’ jeans (85% of women hoard clothes that don’t fit). So I asked style educator and therapist Samantha Clarke who runs the Dressing Well classes at The School of Life why we let emotions get in the way of fashion.

“Women tend to impulse shop,” she says. “But we need to think about dressing for the present – for the size we are now, for the job we’re in now. It’s a process of streamlining and getting rid of some past negativity before we add anything new.”

Her advice makes a lot of sense, particularly regarding letting go of the things which only make me feel depressed. But it’s also about changing our attitudes to how we shop; for example like three quarters of British women, I shop just for the thrill of it rather than because I need something. Clarke prescribes: “A purse-free shopping day. Go shopping, try things on – how does it make you feel, does the colour suit you? It teaches you to shop smarter.”

With Clarke’s advice ringing in my ears I take every single item out of my wardrobe and pile it on my bed. Using three markers – have I worn it this year? Does it wash well? Does it go with at least three other things in my wardrobe? – I take anything that doesn’t fit the bill to charity or sell it on Vestiaire Collective or Covetique (I made £560). My wardrobe looked bare for the first time in years and my mind felt instantly clearer.

To fill in the new gaps in my wardrobe, I turned my attention to the women who look stylish every day. From the Stylist fashion team to the buyers for Net-a-porter and those who dominate every street style blog around, I quizzed fashion’s biggest names about how they get dressed in the morning. And a pattern quickly emerged. All of these women have a ‘fashion uniform’. A loose template of clothes in a tight colour palette which they rarely deviate from. The more I researched, the clearer it became – whether it’s Anna Wintour in her uniform of Manolo Blahnik mules, a fluted A-line skirt and a giant gem necklace or Vogue Paris editor Emmanuelle Alt in leather trousers, T-shirt and tuxedo jacket – those who look eternally stylish do it in uniform.

As Vera Wang confirms, “In the end there is a uniform that works for you. It’s an editing process. And as you become more certain of your own vision, and your own taste and your own style, you do end up in a uniform.” The reason all of these people cite is time. Whether you’re at the forefront of fashion or a Goldman Sachs banker, you still have to get to work on time. New research in decision fatigue shows that the more choices being thrown at us, the more our brains search for shortcuts so it makes perfect sense that the super-successful seek out a fashion uniform. Even Barack Obama has said: “I only wear grey or blue suits… I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m wearing, I have too many other decisions to make.”

So, a fashion uniform is the smartest way to shop. But what should that uniform consist of? I tasked Harvey Nichols personal shopping service with helping me find mine. Just one of a wealth of really brilliant personal shopping services available – I also loved Topshop’s and Asos’s offerings – the appointment is free with no pressure to buy. I sent over a brief on what I was looking for with details on my body shape and the brands I like and Ruth, my personal shopper, pulled out two rails of clothes. She’d edited down countless jean brands into two styles she thought would work for me (J brand Photo Ready and Paige Boyfriend) and found me the perfect black trousers (Theory) and black leather trousers (Joseph). Trying on a careful edit of clothes in a stress-free environment helps you to make better choices, and the best part is all of your wardrobe is put online so you can take time to mull things over before investing.

Fashion Formula

Taking what I learnt from my team of experts I believe I’ve found the formula to the ultimate fashion uniform which will get you through the entire season. This uniform isn’t rigid. For example, if you can’t wear jeans to work then swap them out for a pair of tailored trousers – I love Cos’s side zip trousers – and the colour palette of black, grey, navy and white is just a guide of what worked for me, you may prefer rust, navy and prints.
After a few weeks of wearing my uniform I have not had one fashion tantrum and no more apology texts. It’s the slickest way I’ve ever got dressed in the morning and crucially, it gives me one more hit of the snooze button.

Your Ultimate Fashion Wardrobe

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