In the midst of various fashion weeks, I’ve been thinking more about style. From what I can tell, Europeans have a different philosophy when it comes to buying clothes. Instead of staying on top of trends, there is a focus on quality and longevity. Longevity in the sense that there is no “in” or “out”, or that it’s classic. Quality in the sense that each item is meant to physically last for years. Americans, on the other hand, tend to lean toward a popular aesthetic and trend-following.

More and more, I find myself moving toward a minimalist philosophy (in clothing only; I like my stuff). Quality is the main focus, not quantity. But I think the reason I’m only applying it now is my greater independence. My parents, in that classic Asian way, are penny-pinchers (and I mean that in the nicest way). Spending, say, $50 on a pair of pants would be horrifying. In the long run, though, seeking out and investing in quality pieces can actually be cheaper. There’s a joke in some Terry Pratchett Discworld book (RIP) in which the head of Ankh-Morpork’s police department reflects on boots. He pays very little for each pair that he buys, but they wear out very quickly. His wife, on the other hand, is fabulously wealthy and could buy boots that last a lifetime, thereby saving a small fortune in boot expenses.

People might shy away from a minimalist style because it’s “boring” or “plain” or “dull”. On the contrary, I find minimalist to be very fascinating. Here’s a quote that expresses it perfectly:

“Minimalism can be much more inventive. It’s not about the clothes anymore, it’s the way they’re put together, the simplicity of not being overdressed.”

-Rodolfo Paglialunga, Creative Director at Jil Sander

If anything, minimalism is more fun than busy textures and frou-frou! There’s a visual level and an intellectual level that interact to create something beautiful in it’s simplicity and elegance.

Another thing I’ve thought about, especially while living in Utah, is the idea of “modest fashion”. Supposedly, this is about making sure the proper places are covered, but the word-by-word definition has nothing to do with that. Modesty is a lack of self-centeredness, which also means a lack of visual self-awareness. And there’s nothing wrong with being modest; it’s a great attribute to aspire toward. But since when did appropriate attire equate to “modest”? My point is that I think not flashing people should be required everywhere, but that clothing does not have to be modest. I want to be bold with my clothes. I want to be interesting and expressive and wild. All these things can be accomplished without mid-thigh skirts and necklines that reach my belly button and without “sending the wrong message” as is said so often. I believe that fashion should show personality. Dressing modestly is what I would consider truly boring and plain and dull. Being modest is ok, better than ok, but looking like a pilgrim is not.

Don’t be boring, be yourself.


On Musical Taste

WARNING: I learned highbrow piano, cello, and double bass for several years; snobbery ahead.

Way back in middle school I didn’t listen to much music and before that, I didn’t listen to music at all. For whatever reason, my parents never turned on the car radio (actually, that’s because my mom hates non-classical music) or put on tunes at home. Then around the fifth or sixth grade I got into that uncomfortable stage of tween years when I decided I would be cool. From that time until the eighth grade, I listened to whatever seemed popular.

glad to know I'm somebody's heroine
glad to know I’m somebody’s heroin

As I began to play in orchestra, I started craving more musical complexity. Of course, I had also begun entering that nonconformist [f]artsy phase (which continues today hohoho). So my interests gradually drifted further and further from mainstream music to the point now where I genuinely can’t stand it.

please stop.
please stop.

I worked my way through “alternative” bands like Young the Giant (but never Bastille ew) then toward alternative rock where I reside today. Along the way I also delved into some oldies.

insert fangirl squeal
insert fangirl squeal

Here is a list of my current favorite bands/artists:


OK Computer is probably (definitely) the best holistically because each song goes so perfectly with the next. It’s my favorite band making the best playlist.

Second place is a tie between In Rainbows and Hail to the Thief. Though lacking the degree of unity in OK Computer, each has some pretty killer songs. In Rainbows for lazy days and Hail to the Thief for angst-y ones.

the Beatles

There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t been said already. the fab four speak for themselves.

Arctic Monkeys

These guys have a lot of songs; some good, some mediocre. But when they do a song right they really do it right. I’ll admit I only started listening when AM came out, so berate me if you feel the need. Alex Turner has one heck of a nice voice, though. Listen to “505” and “Fluorescent Adolescent” if you haven’t already.

Arcade Fire

The only album I’m really familiar with is the Funeral album, which is insanely good. Favorite tracks are “Crown of Love”, “Wake Up”, and “Haiti”, though all the “Neighborhood” ones are fantastic.


I think I saw Freddie Mercury’s birthday recently on IMDB. This is for insane hyper days.

Bon Iver

When I listen to music, even for the sake of simply listening to music, I appreciate but don’t concentrate much on the lyrics. When I listen to Bon Iver, I straight up can’t understand him. His voice is also pretty gross. I love him anyway. The ones I listen to most from For Emma, Forever Ago are “Skinny Love” (way better than Birdy’s IMO) and “Creature Fear”.

Glass Animals

These guys are possibly better live, though ZABA is so great already. Trippy groovy sound with some interesting influences.

Honorable Mention (enjoy but wouldn’t listen to for more than an hour)

Foster the People — whom I enjoy even though I prefer rock to pop

Flume — been looking into EDM and really enjoyed a Kaskade concert. The concert was free, but the audience was terrible, so I doubt he’s coming around again soon.

Simon and Garfunkel

Peter, Paul, and Mary

The Shins

The Smiths


Cage the Elephant


I recently realized why my older sister ningning is so bored by my type of music. She prefers a strong melody and clever lyrics. Orchestra, though I hated it, had a strong impact on me. A decent frontman is great, but I think it only goes so far. Most of my favorite bands really function as a band. Each member is significant and contributes to the character of his/her band’s sound. So here’s the snobbery part: it’s rarer for people who haven’t had experience with classical or classical/contemporary music to enjoy the bands and songs listed above because they aren’t used to intricate instrumental arrangements. So much of what I experience from those songs comes from the relationship between melody and accompaniment (“ambient noise” according to sissy dear), where the leading voice is not the main attraction but just another instrument instead. The beauty is in the composition, not a singular catchy line.

So there’s that. Keep following for more of my apologetically-condescending thoughts.

And not all pop music is bad, of course. Here’s an example of mainstream pop that I find hilariously great.

On Musical Taste