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I’ll be the first to admit my relationship with alcohol has been a hot and cold one – very little grey area. Since reaching whatever age marks independence from one’s parents – 18? 19? – when I started having access to booze, I always equated alcohol with a good time; a better time than I would have without it.
When I came of actual legal drinking age, drinking was even more exciting. I got to try all kinds of horrible things like hurricanes, Long Island iced teas, and a “make me something blue” when I happened to know the bartender. I don’t condemn that person – my early-20s self. I think, within reason, that’s kind of when those things are supposed to happen.
As I’ve gotten older – and I think 25 was the most memorable landmark to the fact – hangovers got precipitously worse. They went from being a kind of floaty feeling (probably still drunk in the morning) at 21, to a nasty eye-splitting headache at 23, to the “Doom Hangovers” I started having at 25.
A Doom Hangover is when your emotions get involved. You’re not just ill, you’re not just ruing your decisions from the night before; you’re consumed with guilt. You’re sure everything is wrong, and it’s definitely your fault. This is closely related to, but not the same as, that feeling where you call all your friends to see what you did last night because you don’t remember the details but OH GOD you’re sure it was bad.
No, you might remember the whole night. You might have only had one or two too many. But the Doom Hangover bears down like an anvil on your soul for an entire day, sometimes more. This is your late 20s: Welcome.
The biggest ruse of all, though, is around age 27 and beyond, when you’ve convinced yourself that drinking a few at home, every night, constitutes “responsible drinking.” Again, not condemning the habit, but it’s its own monster. Nothing like reassuring yourself that “it’s okay because I don’t have to drive,” “it helps me sleep,” or “red wine is good for you,” just to wake up feeling like actual, disturbingly familiar garbage the next morning.
The effects were starting to eat into my whole day. I recently got off all my drugs – the immune suppressants, the hormones, and finally the antidepressants. Since then I started to notice an acute change when I drank: I got really depressed the next day.
Not only that, I’m turning 30 in less than a month, and it’s hard not to notice how your body changes around this time in life. Everything was starting to sag and bloat, in spite of regular exercise. My skin looked sallow and old, in spite of my hopeless devotion to my skincare routine. I woke up with a case of dry-mouth I could sell to science no matter how much water I drank. I looked how I felt: shitty.
It was vanity that finally did me in on alcohol again. I say “again” because I quit about two years ago, and I lasted 9.5 months (no baby, hand to God) before I wanted a glass of Pinot Grigio. I used Alan Carr’s book “The Easy Way To Control Alcohol” to do it, and while it stuck for awhile, I thought I had done a great job at overcoming my disagreements with alcohol, and that now I really could “drink responsibly.”
But back to my vanity. It’s real. It’s a being unto itself, ask my mom. I refuse to let my appearance go, because my sanity goes with it. Looking good is inextricable to my identity, and to lose control of both would set me adrift psychologically. My appearance is my buoy in the ocean of life’s chaos, and I don’t care if you think that’s shallow.
So I found myself waking up last week with another self-inflicted gin-ache and thought to myself, y’know, enough is enough, dude. This isn’t fucking worth it. I drink because – I DON’T KNOW WHY – and the results are worse and worse. I feel like garbage, I look like garbage, I’m gaining weight, my clothes don’t fit, and this ISN’T FUN anymore.
That was Friday. Today is Tuesday. I’ve lost 3 pounds of bloat in five days. My skin looks healthy and a lot younger. I wake up at 7 am without my alarm and do the New York Times crossword before work. My pants fit. My body is sending me a clear signal: girlfriend, stop poisoning yourself.
I’m a very all-or-nothing person. A friend once told me I have a steely resolve; that I make a decision and stick to it from then on out. This was right before she told me she slept with my ex and I’ve written her out of my life ever since, so I guess she had a point.
But alcohol has always been my pet issue. I vacillate and I hem and I haw. I try to be “cool Kackie” and just have a drink – stop obsessing. But it doesn’t work, and it’s written in the lines on my face. Alcohol is a wily monster, but if I had to place my bets on who would win in a fight – I’d bet on my vanity all day long.
Did you guys watch the live runway show for Mara Hoffman’s new season? No? Just me?
Let’s begin at the beginning. I’ll try not to sound like the art school kid that I am here, but art is innately connected to time and space. Yeah, bye. Unsubscribe below.
If you’re still here, thanks. I promise this won’t be douchey. What I mean by the above is that yes, styles come and go, and the “best” art should be transcendent, but works of art – fashion included – are inextricably linked to the time they were made. The influence of the environment, be it social, political, personal, really all of the above, on the creator is what makes something objectively worth a shit to people.
I say “objectively” because of how often I hear people say, “Art is so subjective. How do I even know if it’s good?” (This is usually alongside comments like, “my four year old niece could draw this,” and “it’s just a urinal. I don’t get it.”)
While we’re all entitled to our opinions, there’s no substitute for learning the context of a piece of art when trying to understand why this particular hack got his scribble drawing in a famous gallery selling for the GDP of a third-world country.
Fortunately for all of us, contemporary art – again, fashion included – is, as its name implies, of our time. It’s happening right now, being created by people who are still alive. Therefore we can at the very least appreciate it as it relates to us and our own lives, and if we really give a shit about it, we can even ask the artist what they were thinking.
Steering the conversation now specifically toward fashion, I released a post yesterday about how frustrated I am with my own wardrobe. It struck me as interesting in hindsight, though, because it seems the real issue is that what appealed to me when I bought the pieces isn’t as important to me now.
Could it be that in a happier time – when my parents’ insurance was safe, when we all felt good about the pace at which LGBTQ rights were progressing, when Muslim US immigrants didn’t feel at odds with their adoptive homeland, when we as Americans felt protected by our government – my approach to my appearance reflected the same whimsical vibe?
By that logic, it makes perfect sense that I suddenly feel betrayed by my disproportionately cheerful closet. It doesn’t feel right to act like everything’s okay, even when it comes to what I wear.
My initial “attending a funeral” approach aimed to bring the inside out after the election of our current oligarch. But it wasn’t satisfying. I want to be LOUD and angry, not shrink into the background. I want to be unforgettable, un-overlook-able, and yet, unmistakably serious.
So back to the Mara Hoffman fashion show. I opened an email on February 13, inviting me to watch the show live. I sat at work – tried to work – while streaming the show with the other half of my brain, but it quickly commanded all of my attention.
Four women stood in front of the crowd of spectators and photographers, dressed in humble black outfits, one of whom was now ubiquitous activist and Women’s March on Washington organizer Linda Sarsour. What followed was a stark and sobering statement women’s rights, and I encourage you to watch it here.
It would be easy for a critic to dismiss this ceremony as a sort of appropriation of Hoffman’s platform – sure, great, show us the clothes. But what no one might have expected was how Hoffman’s collection, as it came into focus, was itself a statement on public sentiment.
Fans of Mara Hoffman’s lines are very accustomed to blinding colors and busy patterns. She began as a swimsuit designer and thereafter succeeded in making her name synonymous with buoyant, happy clothes. I partially dreaded her new line, anticipating the same cloying taste in my mouth I got when YouTubers continued to post saccharine sweet content and tweet blithe platitudes while our nation suffered blow after blow at the hands of a naked emperor.
But this was different – it is different. I’ve often said I have a greater appreciation for things that are ugly on purpose and beautiful by accident than the other way around. That’s how I would describe this season.
The models in equal parts walked with purpose and danced with abandon around the stark concrete room. The clothes were decidedly demure, but decisive in their details. This was not a sad woman who had given up in the face of injustice – these were not the uniform for depression. The collection was entirely Mara, but at the same time definitely not fucking around. This woman is beautiful, she knows it, and she does not have time for bullshit.
A year ago, I would have seen this collection and audibly uttered, “huh?” But a year ago, I’d have responded similarly to the idea that our country – the world – would look the way it does right now. This is what I mean when I say art is innately connected to time and space. The meaning of this collection is inextricably linked to the double-edged battle intersectional feminism faces – one of an intimidatingly unworn path with a great deal of resistance, and one of emerging leadership in spite of the odds.
We decide with our every day. We become more of how we will be remembered with the small and seemingly meaningless choices we make in real time. In the face of austerity, of scary change, of the bad guys winning, art does not become less meaningful. To the contrary, it will be the creatives, the misfits, the weirdos who will speak for our generation in history, relay through expression the ways we related to our own adversities.
And, as promised, the pieces I REQUIRE (when they go on sale I hope), from Mara Hoffman F/W 2017.
This article probably wasn’t what you bargained for – thanks for bearing with me – it wasn’t what I thought it would be, either.
As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, I’m also all too aware of the criticism that surrounds being just that. The minimalism craze isn’t lost on me. I pore over YouTube channels like Jenny Mustard and MuchelleB, partially congratulating myself on having read and employed the teachings of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, while also reinforcing my steely resolve against the notion that “people only shop aimlessly when they’re unhappy.”
To the contrary, in response to the new “so-called” “Trump” “administration,” I pared down considerably, dressing for the past few months as if I’m going to a business-casual funeral. Because to some extent I feel like I am.
Additionally, I’m scheduled to close on a new house in July, and all dollars and cents that would normally go toward my shopping habit are now being funneled into a savings account for my down payment. My trip to Peru I had planned for my birthday is postponed, can’t open any new credit lines, you know the drill.
Without the revolving door of new clothes being bought and sold from my closet, I’ve had a sludgy sort of realization – I’m never really excited about 90% of my wardrobe. Furthermore, the pieces I am excited about – a pair of Street-to-Studio pants from Lululemon, an old pair of white linen culottes from Loft, a black jumpsuit that doubles as a pinafore – give me zero leads in terms of where to go from here.
I mean, the commonality is that they’re monochrome, but for various reasons – one of which being Ana Wintour’s vocal disdain for head-to-toe black – I know that’s not a stable foundation for a pleasing wardrobe. Not for me, anyway.
Speaking to my close friend Leslie – as I do all day most days on g-chat – we agreed wholeheartedly on the fact that our pieces of clothing feel either too old or too young for us right now. I’m turning 30 in April, she turned 30 last August.
We also, entirely independently, bought the same pairs of Madewell high-waisted jeans a few months back thinking, at least in my case, “This will cinch me in in the places I need it most.”
They are hellishly uncomfortable, somehow too big and too small at the same time, and they make my belly – which I work hard on keeping trim and firm to the best of my abilities – into a convex spoon shape. I can accept many things. Being a 29-year-old with a FUPA is not one of them.
So is it just the age where we are? Is 30 the ultimate limbo for self-representation in fashion? Will I ultimately emerge from my stretch-denim cocoon as a sophisticated, silk-draped 30-something? Is this when I start buying everything at Cuyana? Or am I destined to slowly spiral from athletic leggings to elastic waistbands and ultimately just muumuus because the sensation of fabric digging into my skin gives me anxiety?
More likely I’ll just end up with everything being black, but I hope not.
It probably seems frivolous, but I actually think about fashion a lot. I think I about my personal style, how to express myself in my clothes. It’s something I usually enjoy. But I often find myself in search of something that makes perfect sense to me, only to find that no one makes it. For example, a pair of straight-leg jeans with a mid-rise, a nice old fashioned GAP style rinse in a soft but substantial, un-stretchy fabric – like you’d expect someone on stage in STOMP might have worn in the late 1990s.
Or a decently fitting T-shirt for a small-chested woman. No, not a V-neck. A crew neck that doesn’t ride up when I use my arms, that doesn’t wrinkle when I sit down, that doesn’t shrink like hell in the wash, that doesn’t pill…I know, unreasonable expectations.
So whether it’s my disdain for my own wardrobe, or my disdain for the fact that I can’t find what I like anywhere, maybe they’re right after all. Maybe I am unhappy, and that’s why I shop. But it’s not aimless. While I recognize the contributions of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly to our collective fashion sense, finding clothes that fit, that flatter, that make you feel good about yourself, shouldn’t be the exhausting and ultimately unfulfilling process that it is.
And if you feel like I feel, what’s the secret to un-slumping? Because it’s about to be Summer in central Texas – and head-to-toe black isn’t going to cut it, no matter how much I want it to.
I’m ready for Festival Season – what about you guys?
Hey guys! Today I’m talking all about the last four years on antidepressants, and how I finally kicked them! Check it out – like and subscribe on my page!