Sunday, October 26, 2014

3 Seasons, 3 Bags

How to Pack: Study Abroad

Packing for study abroad is possibly the hardest thing you will ever do. Not exactly, but it is a pretty difficult task when you encounter seasonal changes over the period of 3-4 months! I have one checked luggage, one carry on luggage, and a backpack that I fit my life into. It is hard to let some of your favorite pieces stay at home and await your return, but you have to be brutal! Here is a small overview of my recommended pieces while traveling or studying abroad and how you can pack light!

Layers, layers, layers. You will need tanks, cardigans, and tees that you can mix and match with almost every outfit. I recommend going for simple colors or sticking to one color scheme so it is easy to put multiple outfits together. It probably helped that I’m really into black and white right now, but I added a touch of blues and maroons in the mix for some more color.
I also think a denim shirt and a white shirt are essential because they are classic pieces that can be thrown over a tank or tee as well as nice on their own. Once again, neutral colors that can go with anything! I threw in two sweaters for the colder months, who doesn’t love a cozy sweater?!

Jeans and leggings are your new best friend.  I brought two of each, a dark pair of jeans, and a light pair, as well as a nicer legging and an inexpensive one. Jeans can be rolled up a bit and paired with sandals for summer, or tucked into boots for the winter. Leggings can be worn on their own with a tank or under a skirt or dress in cooler weather. A nice black a-line skirt is perfect to pair with a tee, sweater, tank, everything (I’ve gotten so much use out of mine). I only brought 2 pairs of shorts since I started school in September, so not much time for warm weather.
For dresses I only put two here, one casual and one for occasions. Even the occasion dress can be dressed up or down, which provides more functionality for multiple events and activities. I brought one nicer dress and a skirt and top that can be mixed around, and I’ve only used the nice dress once so far, so if you need to condense your suitcase this may be a good area. Plus, you can always purchase something new if you need to! I’ve had a lot of use out of my casual dresses because you can change up the cardigan or jacket or add leggings or tights! Plus they are a simple and easy item to pack.

            This is probably the most difficult area for most people, including myself. Since I am studying over the course of three seasons I was worried I wouldn’t have enough shoe options, but I’ve been happy with my choices so far. I packed: 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of sneakers, 2 pairs of short boots, 1 pair of tall boots, and 1 pair of flats.
            The important thing when packing shoes is comfort! Depending on where you plan on traveling or studying abroad, the streets are difficult to walk on anyhow! I highly recommend packing for comfort, otherwise they will be a waste of space in your bag. Plus, I decided to purchase a pair of hand-made leather sandals in Florence - so as always, save room for souvenirs! I debated between packing rain boots or winter boots, but my tall (fake) leather boots are

            Personally, I don’t wear much jewelry, but if you do, try to keep it to a minimum and bring your favorites or ones you will wear the most. I would stay away from bringing anything too expensive because you don’t want to lose it or have it stolen. Accessories are a nice way to vamp up your outfit, so if you’re into statement pieces this is where you can spice it up. Smaller pieces like rings and bracelets are easy and small to pack. Scarves are also essential and useful to throw over your shoulders in churches on visits or add a pop of color to your ensemble.

Other Tips
            Traveling between Chicago and Philly I am always trying to find better ways to pack. Rolling my clothes has proven to be the best way to keep everything compact. I’ve found rolling my clothes to keep away wrinkles and fit more! But still be conscious of weight and size restrictions from your airline.
            I decided to buy a new coat before I left that was stylish and functional because it has a removable lining inside so I can use it as a light jacket or a full on winter jacket.
            I’ve been lucky enough not to have my luggage lost, but I like to keep an emergency Ziploc bag of toiletries in my carry on bag just in case.

            I absolutely love traveling and I look forward to more adventures in the future. If you have any other tips comment below!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

La Plage

When deciding on what other places I wanted to travel during my study abroad experience France was on the top of my list! I have been to Paris and Northern France with my family about 4 years ago, and I’ve always been eager to explore the south of France.
My boyfriend who is currently studying in Florence as well, at Florence University of the Arts, (FUA) tagged along on the trip. We debated which town we wanted to stay in, mainly between Nice and Cannes, which were our two top destinations. We settled on staying in Cannes because the hotels were more reasonable, and they have sand beaches as opposed to the typical rock and pebble beaches.
Staying in Cannes was absolutely the best choice. Our hotel was a 10-minute walk from the beach and close to all of the stores and restaurants. Plus, the train station was close so we could bounce between towns easily.

Aaron and I in Cannes
We traveled from Florence to Cannes by train - 4 to be exact. Our journey started at midnight and we arrived to our hotel around 11am and spent the rest of the day on the beach. My first experience with the Mediterranean was definitely one to be remembered. Growing up in the Midwest, I’m not used to salt water, and I’ve only been to the ocean a few times. I usually associate the ocean with crashing waves, boogie boards and surfers, but the water in Cannes was gentle and calm, more of my style and easy to relax in.
Our second day we took a train to Nice to spend the day. Nice is a larger city on the coast with loads of shopping, restaurants, and a promenade along the water. There were all types of markets around the older part of town with books, posters, flowers, produce, everything fresh and French you can think of. We found a beautiful view point on top of a cliff, which was well worth the hike up. I’ve never seen such clear blue water, and the sun provided perfect swimming weather, convincing us to go back to Cannes and head to the beach in the afternoon.

The Mediterranean from the top of the viewpoint in Nice
Flowers scouring the markets in Nice
As much as I love all of the Italian food in Florence, it was time for a break, but for some reason there were an overwhelming amount of Italian restaurants in France! Finally we found a restaurant from my trusty TripAdvisor, and we both indulged in a hamburger and fries. This was quite possibly the best hamburger I’ve ever had, the flavors were incredible and it was cooked to perfection.
The most delicious hamburger in France
Traveling around the French Riviera is very easy to do by train. We decided on our final day we would stop in Monaco to see Monte Carlo before our train ride back to Italy. Unfortunately we were not able to visit the casino because of our back packs (should have checked beforehand!) Instead we found a nice spot in a café around the casino, sipped a drink, and drooled over expensive cars as they drove around the boulevard.

Then it was off to the train station for our ride home. The French Riviera certainly met all of my expectations and I had a fantastic time. I definitely see myself returning in the future, once I can afford my own yacht ;).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Benvenuto D&M! Welcome!

     Hello blogosphere, a new place where I can share my amazing travel experiences in Italy! I’m currently attending Accademia Italiana (AI), a design school in Florence and will begin to blog about my life here as a student. It is currently my fourth week living in Florence, and it has been absolutely incredible so far. I have traveled to beautiful places, eaten my weight in pizza, and continue to learn about different cultures. I anticipate my posts will mostly contain stories of my travel, blogs about fashion, and lots and lots of food. But for now I will give an overview of my most recent trips and experiences!

Siena and San Gimignano
     I am so lucky to attend AI because there are several weekend trips provided through the university. At the end of our orientation week we took a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano, two beautiful Tuscan towns just a few hours away from Florence. 
     Our day started in Siena in a torrential downpour. But even the rain could not take away from the gorgeous views of the hills and town. We met a tour guide who led us through St. Catherine’s Cathedral and then Duomo di Siena. Learning about St. Catherine of Siena was interesting because they have the head and finger of St. Catherine on display, and apparently other parts of her body are in other churches across Italy. 
     The Duomo is a must see, featuring intricate mosaic tile floors depicting scenes from the bible as well as important symbols of Siena and Italy. One of my favorite parts of the Duomo was the “Library” room which holds beautifully hand bound song books and scriptures. The frescoes in the room are massive and all of the artifacts appear in excellent condition. The saturated colors, gold leaf details, and ornate designs place you back in time.
View of Siena
     After a few hours in Siena we were on our way to San Gimignano, a medieval town that is nestled high up in the Tuscan hills. The views on the bus ride of ripe vineyards ready for the harvest. We stopped in “The World’s Best Ice Cream” shop and their sign proved true. The chocolate and coffee flavors were my favorite, but you can’t go wrong when it comes to gelato. I wish we had more time to enjoy the views and the sunset but we had to be on our way back to Florence.

View from the top of San Gimignano
     I will also include a link to a video I made of my first week adventures, including this trip here and below! I hope you will enjoy the video and post! Ciao!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Suit Today

Today the suit is extremely symbolic for powerful women and women wishing to succeed in their career. Women are regularly seen wearing suits for interviews and when attending everyday work. It allows the women to feel empowered because of its strong symbolization of being breakthrough women. There are now even organizations that help women who are not about to afford suits. The organization “Dress for Success” helps women to succeed in their work life by providing them with suits, and if available scarves, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories.  Not only does this organization allow women to be dressed for their interviews but also once receiving job offers women could return and get dressed in suiting for their job.  This non-profit has been successful in job retention for woman across 15 countries. Therefore this organization believes that women’s suiting is a strong confident booster and that this style of dress causes inner power, making women the best they can be, causing them to truly believe in themselves and all of their dreams as well as future endeavors.

Throughout history there have always been women of power taking pride in the clothes they have worn in order to have people of their specific society take them seriously. Hilary Clinton is an example of a powerful woman that has been seen wearing a “power suit” often when speaking and making other appearances. Meredith Lepore in The History of the Power Suit writes that the progression of the power suit is extremely extraordinary and has allowed women to progress as a whole. She explains that women are now able to even wear pink the workplace and offices, that lace, which was once seen as sexy and inappropriate for offices is now accepted. Even animal prints such as leopard and cheetah print clothing items or shoes are now often seen and even created by retailers such as J.Crew who design fashion for many working women throughout the United States.  Blair Kohan gives her input claiming that the suit was seen everywhere in Hollywood during the 80’s and you were seen wearing higher end suits as you climbed to the top in Hollywood. Now these suits don’t need to be as “manly,” they do not need to help portray women as being as tough because professionals and specifically men are aware of women’s capabilities within the workforce. Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking helped the suit to symbolize women before they could merely claim seriousness without something like a sophisticated manly tuxedo suit to back up their statement.

This is extraordinarily important for the fashion industry. Women are often judged for their interest in fashion and luxury brands, being told that they are shallow and defined by brands and items. Opposing, women often use fashion as items as help, a booster, to allow them to help define who they want to be. Women dress themselves in beautiful items designed by designers who wish to assist women, to help make them feel beautiful and therefore boost their confidence. Fashion is not fake, not a façade for a women hiding, trying to be something they may not be, but rather a women striving to create their own personal identity, creating their own path and way of life. There are women who wish not to be defined by a man, or their job but rather to define themselves by their accomplishments and dream. Each piece of clothing draped upon them is not hiding their inner beauty, but allowing others to see their inner security from the outside. Although the suit is still worn by many and is a stable item in working women’s closets, its progression within feminism almost has caused it to become outdated.
            Design embodies every aspect of a specific item. Although one might think of design as merely look or functionality, there is exceptionally more that is deposited into the design process. Design, as well as fashion takes time and is thoroughly thought out to create a product or item that is sustainable, useful, as well as attractive to the eye. Everything used and placed in front of one’s eye contains design and therefore there was thought put into its creation.
            Susan Yelavitch explains that design is everywhere and is not always easily noticed or recognized.  Humans take things for granted and do not think about the thought and effort that was once and continues to be placed into the objects and items being created for our own use.  Being more aware of the design surrounding our lives will although for us as humans to be more thoughtful when trying to find solutions to new and surfacing problems. Recognition of how problems have been solved in the past with design can be further progressed in order to solve new or slightly varying issues. Yves Saint Laurent implementing Le Smoking Tuxedo into woman’s fashion allowed for feminism to progress, to knock down boundaries. Fashion is a huge part of design, and design creates silhouettes of fashion.

            In conclusion of completing the novel Invisible Man though of fulfilling dreams and following a path thickened within my head, comparing design including fashion to life, that there is purpose, reason, beauty, balance, and many other aspects in both. One creates their path, they chose which path they take, something’s they cannot control but all are causes of an effect. Artists stroke marks are created by a brush, drawings of dresses, skirts, suiting are created, even though the marks may not come out the way they want, he still created them, and as time progresses, as time is spent on the work of art or life, we get better at creating the design or lifestyle we wish to have, we strive to get better, to be better designs ourselves. Yves Saint Laurent strived to make his design better, to make women stronger. Not only did Yves Saint Laurent succeed in his personal career and within the fashion industry but also he succeeded by causing movement in Feminism, allowing the movement to push forward for years to come.

Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking Jacket

At this time in Paris it was forbidden for women to be seen in the street wearing pants, they are restricted merely to skirts and dresses. This law was only taken out a few years ago when it was found still written as a law in Paris. Saint Laurent was an inspiration to woman due to the creation of a tuxedo style jacket, Le Smoking, that was still form fitting and sexy for women.  Le Smoking Jackets are printed in Vogue throughout the years, and these photos are crucial in explaining the change of a simplistic yet symbolic jacket. Vogue explains, “But one day in 1966, the Algerian-born designer Yves Saint Laurent dropped le bomb with le smoking, a tuxedo suit of velvet or wool-black-tie menswear reinterpreted for the female form. Although Saint Laurent’s masculine alternative to the Little Black Dress was done up with frilly white shirts, cummerbunds, and satin lapels it did ruffle a few feathers” (vogue). Saint Laurent’s design was bold but he wished to take a step outside the societal norms and create something that could make women feel beautiful without compromising their comfort and ability to move. Although Saint Laurent created many feminine accents to the tuxedo it was still seen brash for the time period.

Le Smoking jacket, as well as, the entirety of Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo for women was extremely influential in helping the feminist movement. Linda Grant explains Yves Saint Laurent’s success in her article for The Guardian, Forget burning bras- feminism was built on the trouser suit. Grant states, “Le Smoking, the tuxedo for women that would become a permanent feature of his collections and would morph into the single most transformative piece of women's wear since Chanel created the little black dress”, Although Chanel’s little black dress was also extremely influential during this time, Saint Laurent introduced a trouser that women adored and wore. Although women in the 20s had begun to wore pants, they were for casualwear, worn on their down time on the weekends. Saint Laurent’s trouser could be worn for work; it was dressy. In terms of Feminism, Grant expresses that the trouser allowed for men’s gaze to be focused on the face, instead of bare legs. Saint Laurent’s trouser still allowed women to look beautiful and even extended the line of the leg. Therefore causing men to listen, rather than be distracted by a short dress or mini skirt, giving women power, causing men to listen.
Not only was Yves Saint Laurent influential to Feminism in general. Saint Laurent also began to break through race barriers. After Saint Laurent’s passing in 2008, Naomi Campbell was interviewed about her relationship with Saint Laurent. Campbell spoke kinds words explaining that Yves Saint Laurent wanted her to be the cover on French Vogue and she believed they would not allow it because of her skin color, Saint Laurent said he would take care of it and find a way to make it happen. Keeping his word, Naomi Campbell was placed on the cover of French Vogue.Capmpbell continues to express her appreciation for Yves Saint Laurent and his other contributions to the fashion industry, stating, “He was the king of fashion.”  Saint Laurent is known for giving African and Asian models the opportunity to be seen on runways and magazine covers that has previously been for white models. 
Yves Saint Laurent, Le Smoking Jacket, created a sense of mystery within the women; it was new different, unchartered territory within the fashion world. The pants were alternative for the time period, creating a great deal of controversy. Catherine Deneuve, who was a close friend of Yves Saint Laurent, explained that he “designs for women who lead double lives” (Catherine Deneuve). Saint Laurent’s designers were for women that enjoyed fashion, luxury, shopping and all of the lifestyle that relates directly to those interests, but these women were also much more than that. Saint Laurent’s designs were suitable for women who worked. There were pieces other than Le Smoking that Yves Saint Laurent designed for the luxurious working women including: leather jackets, fedoras, pea coats, and peasant blouses. Estella Shardlow from Business Insider wrote,

Few respectable restaurants or hotels allowed female guests to wear them inside. Nan Kempner was famously turned away from Le Cote Basque in New York while wearing her YSL tuxedo suit. Yet in the defiant style befitting this androgynous, no- nonsense look, she removed the bottom half and waltzed into the restaurant wearing the jacket as a thigh-skimming mini dress instead. The manager later said that for formal dining attire trousers were as unsuitable as a bathing suit.

Women were breaking through boundaries. Taking leaps forward in order to allow all women to be able to wear what they wished into any public space.

In 1930 Marlene Dietrich, an actress, appears on screen wearing a top hat and tails, a look that seemed extremely masculine during a very early time period. This was her first Hollywood Film and definitely left some viewers in shock. After many had seen the film, in 1931 Women’s Wear Daily responded that French women were seen sporting menswear that was tailored to fit a women’s physique. Women’s Wear Daily told readers that many women, whom were intelligent, arrived back to Paris after visiting the French Riviera in tailored menswear. This later resulted in many women going to their husbands tailor shops to get their new outfits fitted.  Women’s Wear Daily then questions in 1933 whether or not women were going to be seen wearing trousers. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent Introduced his first Le Smoking that was a trouser suit, done up with heels and a hair bow. The suit had velvet tripped along with a white ruffled blouse. A month later, in September 1966, Paris’s Left Bank becomes home to Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche read-to-wear store. Saint Laurent offers lower price Le Smoking suiting at his Rive Gauche boutique, and therefore the demand for Le Smoking rises. Only a few months later in December a Washing Post headline reads “Le Rage in Paris Is Le Smoking Jacket.” With only months gone by and the word has already spread about the popularity about Saint Laurent’s new contribution to fashion. French vogue even released a section about Le Smoking that was six pages long, including black velvet Le Smokings.Two months later in Febuary of 1967 Saint Laurent released new collections including,
“Gangster-striped, wide-leg trouser suits, complete with vests, watch fobs, hankercheifs, and fedoras. The new smoking is a cropped black alpaca tuxedo jacket with a shawl collar and an open, square neckline. A frilly white organdy skirt tucks into a wide cummerbund; a black ribbon forms a bow tie. (Ruffled white bib-front black smoking-ish dresses are offered for the less daring.”

As spring approaches, Mireille Darc features a Saint Laurent Rive Gauche summer smoking in French Vogue. And when summer hits velvet knickers and white silk ascot shirts become the rage in terms of summertime le smoking style. 

In the beginning of 1968 Yves Saint Laurent shows his “cropped passementerie-trimmed toreador jacket, worn over a tailored white silk shirt and a long black maxi skirt, cinched at the waist with a bide belt.” Saint Laurent didn’t fail at reinventing his Le Smoking, each time giving women something new to wear by still allowing them to feel empowered and strong. In March of 1968 Saint Laurent pushes his designs even further, showing off a new transparent chiffon top, even shown with Bermuda shorts that still embodied the tuxedo-like stylistic form and accents. Although black tights were still worn underneath this was extremely daring for the time period. 
            By 1971 Yves Saint Laurent and Le Smoking was still prevalent upon the luxurious society. Bianca Perez Morena de Macias is seen getting married in Saint Tropez wearing a cream Le Smoking jacket by Saint Laurent. This jacket was worn with nothing underneath and paired with a long skirt as she Married Roller Stone’s Mick Jagger. 

Yves Saint Laurent was not the only one who helped influenced the evolution of the suit and tuxedo for women. In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent introduced Le Smoking, which Vogue even says was the “first male-inspired couture, evening suit with pants for women”.As time progressed a book called, Dress for Success was published, along with Giorgio Armani creating a line of suiting made in neutral colors. In September 1976 Vogue’s New York magazine features a collection of suiting for women with different silhouettes   and materials. Vogue described this as “Brand new-super-suiting”. A year later in 1977 Theirry Mugler and Claude Montana release their collections of suiting that accentuate the shoulder, making them large and noticeable. As 1978 approaches the man-style of suiting sweeps the business world. Calvin Klein, annoyed, gave Vogue a comment, claiming that women did not need a uniform and shouldn’t need to look like a man. Saint Laurent would argue that he was not trying to make women look or feel like men, but be feminine, yet comfortable, beautiful yet powerful. In April of 1980, subway worked of New York City decide to strike, therefore workers are not able to take the subway to work, making walking necessary for getting to work. Suits begin to be worn with white socks, over nude tights and even paired with white sneakers in order to make the commute to work comfortable. A year later, in the 1981, Nany Reagan, first lady of Ronald Reagan, wears a skirt suit created by Adolfo and Galanos. In 1984, Donna Karan creates her own independent fashion line for professional women such as Diane Sawyer. Two years later in 1986, Vogue reports that women may be dressing too powerful and therefore putting the success of your life in jeopardy because people will think you have been “too successful”. Outlooks change as 1990 comes; Casual Fridays become common among American workplaces. Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel states “There is not only a change in fashion going on, but a change of mind”. Karl Lagerfeld explains that not only was the fashion changing and women wanted to wear pants and more casualwear, but the mindset and outlook on women, especially working women was changing and progressing, and fashion worked directly with that change.

Work Cited
1.  "Dress for Success: Who We Are." Dress for Success: Who We Are. Dress for Success, n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2014.
2. "Le Smoking." - Voguepedia. Vogue, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
3. "Le Smoking." Dazed. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.
4. Lepore, Meredith. "The History of the Power Suit." Levo League. N.p., 06 Mar. 2014. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
5. "Power Suit." - Voguepedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
6. Shardlow, Estella. "How Yves Saint Laurent Revolutionized Women's Fashion By Popularizing The "Le Smoking" Suit." Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 08 Aug. 2011. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
7. "Yves Henri-Donat-Mathieu Saint Laurent." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 18 Aug. 2014.
8. "Yves Saint Laurent." - Voguepedia. Vogue, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014.
9. "Yves Saint Laurent's Le Smoking through the Ages." Fashion Galleries from Catwalks to Celebrities. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.