“We can laugh our lives away and be free once more”

An off-the-shoulder peasant blouse is a timeless piece that feels romanticized yet practical. It can be worn with a skirt to heighten femininity, mini shorts to emphasize sexiness, or dress pants to elevate it to a sophisticated look. All the while, it seems to contribute to outfits that convey common, idealized female tropes: with a skirt, I feel like a damsel on the Mexican prairie; with shorts, a Daisy Duke-esque country vamp in the heat of summer; with dress pants, an elegant and regal Uptown Girl striding with intent down Madison Avenue. Which is fun for me! I say live in reality, but play up and indulge in your fantasies when you can. The navy and white print on this particular top, however, is similar to a bandana’s, which inherently makes it feel more casual and summery. I wore it with a pair of mid-waisted mid-wash jeans this past spring, along with hoop earrings, pink lips, and a low sitting messy bun.

I love wearing my hair like this, with delicate wisps that beg for the object of your affection to get close and tenderly tuck them behind your ear. I swoon over intimate, pure gestures like this!! Sometimes I feel like my heart is in a constant battle with itself between the need for soft, gentle romance and animalistic, aggressive passion. Just give me both my whole life please!! Equally electrifying and breath-taking, finding the person you share both with is so rare and special.

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A song that feels like it caters to my romantic tendencies, yet still works with this cool, casual look, and even still is happy and infectious is “Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image. I love this song because of the way it builds up excitement, with mellow but catchy verses that burst into a stronger, louder chorus that feels full of resound and refreshing adventure. I think this top and these jeans create a semi-70s look that corresponds well to the music, but even further, I like that this song romanticizes the sea as much as I romanticize things I wear. It makes me feel so happy and inspired when I hear it, besides the urge to dance I get a swell of hope and determination, usually for whatever impending adventure is about to be undertaken in my own life.

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On your way to a world that others might have missed

I can think of a few adventures I hope take place/continue to develop in my immediate future…emphasis on immediate, god do I get impatient when I want something!

Listen to it here! “Ride Captain Ride”-Blues Image

“One and only rebel child, in a family meek and mild”

I can’t wait to be a mom. I mean, I can wait, I’m not exactly at the right point in my life yet, but my heart already swells in my chest when I think about it. Family is so important to me, and as much as I love my current lifestyle, I can’t imagine any time in life being more fulfilling or happy than raising children with the person you love (I think runner-up is traveling the world with the person you love.) Sometimes I wonder how having children will affect parts of my life that I love so much, like traveling, dancing, and fashion. There’s an inherent selflessness that comes from being a parent, your focus is so much less on yourself and so much more on your children, and for the most part, I imagine you wouldn’t want it any other way. But you still have to be you, and take care of you, and foster the things you love about you, and that seems to be the balance that parents I know struggle with. It can’t be easy! In addition to the exhaustion and busyness and possible balancing of a career, I wonder if there is a worry or guilt that things you used to love are no longer “appropriate” because you’re a mother. Will I feel like I can’t wear certain outfits, or dance certain dances, or skinny dip in the ocean in a foreign country because that’s not something a “mom” should do, even when my kids aren’t with me?

I’m sure these will absolutely not be my biggest priorities, but I still really hope I don’t feel like I can’t do these things anymore. I feel like there is no one way to be a mom, no one-size-fits-all mold, and that while your priorities will naturally shift, of course, you should still feel free to be who you are. It’s not like just because you’re a mom, your personality, your sexuality, your passions, your dreams just disappear, either. People seem to be so judgmental, particularly of women and especially of moms, and I will never understand the need to bring other people down just because they don’t live or act like you. And like, sure, I’m not about to show up to a parent-teacher conference in a silky corseted mini dress, but not because I think it’s wrong, I just personally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so. But for a date night out? I think as long as I feel confident in it, and it still expresses me, I’ll wear it. And if my style has naturally shifted and I only want to wear more sophisticated options, then I will. But I don’t think it should be determined by what is deemed “appropriate” for motherhood. I’d also argue it’s important for your kids to see you happy, taking care of yourself and who you are!

The top and jeans I wore in these photos made my friend say I looked like a “liberal mom taking her kids to a painting class,” which is why I was thinking about what it means to dress like a mom. I personally love this top, I bought it from Zara maybe 4 or 5 years ago and I think it’s simple and elegant, able to be dressed up or down. The white material is very breathable and the red leaf pattern brings a pop of my favorite color. The jeans are admittedly in the style known as “mom jeans,” but they’re super comfortable while also durable, making them great for days outside when they might get dirty.

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Naturally, this all brought “Mama Tried” as sung by The Grateful Dead to my head. This song always makes me think of driving out west, where you feel surprisingly in touch with that outlaw kind of mindset. Windows down, hair blowing, driving down an open arid road. Bliss!!

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That leaves only me to blame ’cause mama tried

Hopefully, your child never grows up to be an outlaw like the song suggests, but if so, at least you’ve got a great song to take solace in.

Listen to it here! “Mama Tried”-The Grateful Dead

“I keep seeing this picture of you”

My wardrobe is filled with dresses that I mentally qualify as sexy or ladylike. The past year or so, however, I’ve been very into dresses that combine ladylike elements with sexy little details. This dress I wore in spring is a great example; it has midi length, muted rose color, and simple silhouette, but also thin cotton material, flimsy tie at the bust, and cut-out under the chest. What you get brings to mind that scene in Atonement where Keira Knightley’s prim and proper character jumps into a fountain and comes out soaked, clothes clinging to her all sexy and provoking. I feel like a sophisticated woman who’s about to engage in a romantic tryst in a field somewhere in France or England…swoon.

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Speaking of, it’s so funny to me that since traveling around Europe, I now see clothes in my closet as evoking certain countries or cities. I’ll think to myself, that top is very Barcelona, that coat is so Sweden, that hat is very Prague, that dress so Portugal. And this is definitely only based on the time of year I was there too; until I return, London will always be fall fashion, Berlin always summer, Budapest always Indian summer.

Totally another tangent, but I was devastated a few months ago when I read a book about Hungary’s horrifying history of anti-semitism, specifically during WWII but also it’s reemergence today. Budapest was the most magical city to me, I was enamored when I visited it, but now I feel like maybe I only saw it through a naive lens, or if anything, the rose-colored light has dimmed a bit, knowing an inescapable context now. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Germany and the other countries I visited that had been occupied during WWII, and it’s not like the US doesn’t currently have an uprising of alt-right politicos, either. I knew Hungary had been occupied, but I had no idea how particularly evil and willing the Arrow Cross had been, nor did I know how racist members of the current government are towards the Jewish population. It was such a drastic difference from this fairytale like city I explored and fell in love with, it was almost like a punch in the gut.

Also like a punch in the gut? The lyrics of this happy, ditty-like song by Cat Stevens! (And you thought I couldn’t tie this all together–albeit very, very pathetically.) I’ve already written about my mixed feelings on Yusaf Islam, but man, I really do love “Here Comes My Baby”. It’s such a hopeful tune, but the lyrics are a mix of relentlessness and defeat. Your heart aches for his unrequited love, but the music is so cheerful that you also feel like skipping at the same time. And I think this dress goes well with it, because it’s the kind of dress I feel like I really saunter down the street in, in a way that I imagine the woman he sings about does. It’s light and flirty like the music, but something about it also makes me feel unattainable, like the lyrics. Which is ironic, because in reality I think the fit and texture of this dress beg to be touched.

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You’ll be mine to hold each day
But ’til then this is all that I can say

I really, really love terms of endearment like “baby,” too, I think there’s something so sweet and sexy in particular when a guy is calling his girl “baby,” or “babe,” or “darling”…swoon.

Listen to it here! “Here Comes My Baby”-Cat Stevens

“And, baby, the way you move me, it’s crazy”

I’m a notoriously picky little shit. I’m picky about food (partly since I’m allergic to dairy, eggs, and gluten, and no longer eat meat for ethical reasons), I’m picky about men (but shouldn’t we all be?) and I’m picky about what I spend money on (I tend to weigh everything against travel funds, i.e. the cost of that dress could get you two RyanAir flights in Europe, T.) One thing I’m definitely not picky about is who and what to practice kindness towards. I am a huge believer that small acts of daily kindness and compassion, as well as larger, long-term focuses of your time and energy, will always be some of the most defining aspects of your entire life. There is a joy that radiates from people who live by their beliefs and make an effort to better the world around them and at large, and it’s the most beautiful thing in the world when like any habit, the conscious effort becomes subconscious, and finding ways to spread positivity and happiness is a natural practice infused into your attitude and actions. As I get older, I’ve realized I tend to surround myself more and more by these special souls, and it’s only grown more and more important to me to be one of them. I live my life through my passion, whether it be passion for a person, a hobby, or a cause. While those passions tend to be honed towards one or a few, my passion for compassion and kindness feels limitless, which is an exhilarating feeling.

Yet sometimes my passions seem to contradict each other. And sometimes I’m scared of my passions, by the depth and electricity and loss of control. I have experienced passions where I force myself to put up a wall, out of fear or out of circumstances. Sometimes you connect with someone at such a striking, special level that you know if you let yourself fully relax and fully feel, you would fall madly in love, and the thought is too overwhelming and scary and crazy so instead you try to turn your heart off. Sometimes you find a cause you support so deeply, you know it would be all-consuming if you let yourself really dive into it and try to bring about support and change, and you don’t know if you have the energy or emotional stamina. Passion in all of it’s glorious intensity can be terrifying. And yet, it can also be the most important indicator of what is meant for you in your life, what your soul was made for. There was a subway ad for the Metropolitan Opera a few years back that exclaimed, “Don’t let desire pass you by.” Desire tends to get a bad rap, as if it’s only purely selfish temptations. Is it possible that following what your innermost self desires could be the quickest path to what is destined for you? I’d like to believe that your heart can know things before you do, whether it be that the person you can’t get over is your soulmate, or that the cause your heart bursts for is one day going to make historic leaps and bounds while you lead it.

But oh, yeah, this is a fashion and music endeavor, right? I haven’t written consistently in awhile, work has kept me busier than usual and I’ve had to travel a lot this summer, and I guess I’ve had a bit of a self-expression-through-writing build up going on inside me! I also haven’t taken photos for this blog since early spring, and I really need to get some summer outfits on here…

But for today, I’ve chosen this gorgeous, golden knit midi-dress. Red tends to be the universal color of passion, but the intensity of the color and the similarity in hue to a child’s crayon drawing of a lightning bolt makes me think ah yes, passion. The ruffle hem is feminine and lovely and the fit hugs my curves in the right places without being overly sexy. My hair is a little messy (I’m working on taking better care of it), I added some pinky-red lip color to my bare face, and I completed the look with simple diamond stud earrings and grey faux-suede kitten heels (faux because ethical reasons, kitten heels because at 5’6″-5’7″ I feel like I can get away with not always wearing high heels for an elongated look). Overall, I feel very vivacious, bright, and beautiful in this outfit, and while it’s striking I feel like it’s not necessarily distracting. I think of this as an outfit I could wear in an environment where I want my intellect and personality to shine through while still looking nice…which is the goal 90% of the time, really, but sometimes I utilize my outfit to express specific aspects of my personality moreso than others.

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The song choice might seem a little odd, since it’s not exactly an intensity-driven beat, but I want to pair it with “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne, solely because of the lyrics. This is such a happy song, and I think it goes along with all the ideas I’ve mentioned above, like opening your heart to kindness, overwhelming passion, and ultimately letting it lead you to what’s fated. This definitely feels like a song they’d play at the end of a movie or at a wedding, and I can see how it might be overly cheesy for some. Ray LaMontagne’s voice has that perfect southern whispery drawl, and it works well to bring sincerity and beauty to the lyrics. And I guess ultimately, I’d like to hope that in the end, following your deepest desires will lead you to that “best thing” that will ever happen to you.

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You know I hope and I pray
That you believe me
When I say this love will never fade away

The more I look at it, the more I do think I look a bit like a walking lightning bolt in this dress, but I’m digging it! It’s fun to imagine myself waltzing into a room in this and ba-bam, instant voltage.

Listen to it here! “You Are the Best Thing”-Ray LaMontagne

“I been longin’ to see her, when she’s around she takes my blues away”

I have been head over heels for this song the past few days! I’m sure I’ve heard “My Maria” sung by B.W. Stevenson before, but I honestly can’t remember when until this past weekend, when I was in Chicago for a super quick trip and was driving down Lake Shore Drive with the windows down on a summer Friday night. It was absolute bliss, like the soundtrack of my soul in the moment. Dare I say it may be one of my favorite songs right now? It’s so beautiful, romantic, airy, and ridiculously happy. I want this to be the song that always captures my soul, my aura. I want to make people feel the way this song feels!

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I was torn between pairing this song with an airy, perfect-for-twirling skirt/dress, and this whimsical, colorful number, and in the end this dress won out (mostly because it’s harder to find other songs to pair this with). This is a conservative, cute work-style look, made to stand out with it’s bright paisley color print. It’s a Tommy Hilfiger dress bought from TJ Maxx, and I’ve never found any difference in quality when it’s purchased from a discount chain, only great savings on well-trusted labels. It’s such a happy, fun look, perfect for a song that makes your heart feel like it could burst with feeling and bliss. I really love the fit of this dress, too; it works with my shape without being either too boxy or too tight. Since the pattern is busy, I kept the rest of my look simple with a pulled back ponytail, light red lipstick, and diamond stud earrings.

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Just my thoughts about you bring back my piece of mind

It’s a new life goal to one day dance my heart out to this, preferably outside, and in that twirly, flowy dress or skirt, and eventually at my wedding, too…this song really just makes me want to spin, dancing around in complete, mind-blowing happiness.

Listen to it here! “My Maria”-B.W. Stevenson

“I don’t know what it is, but I know that I can’t live without her”

Sexual assault has been on my mind a lot this summer (I know, fun!), not in a negative rut kind of way but in a pensive, overarching kind of way. At the beginning of the summer, and in what may be one of the weirdest arcs of my life so far, my own experience with sexual assault was resurfaced a bit when the perpetrator (mind you, a classmate from my high school in a fairly small city in Wisconsin) was outed for other alleged sexual assaults on a national level. Truly never thought I would see the day that would happen, and the circumstances leading up to the attention it got were all his own doing (seems like a no brainer that if you’ve attacked people in the past you should avoid trying to appear on a popular reality TV show, but some people really are that narcissistic, apparently…)

Anyways, I’ve written more about what happened here, and it was such an interesting experience emotionally to see this person outed like that, in addition to being deeply painful to know he had been hurting more women. It didn’t bring up any feelings about the experience itself; thanks to therapy, I have hashed out all the emotions I could ever feel about that night, and I’m at peace when I think about it. But it did bring up emotions about things I guess I hadn’t quite put to bed yet, like how other people in my high school responded to the events at the time, how unheard and dismissed I felt. It was hard this time around seeing people from my high school decry this person immediately, especially ones who had made fun of me for what I said happened, who accused me of lying, who sided with him and justified it. I know intellectually I should have been happy to see how far people have come, after all we were all just kids then, and it’s great to know that as adults maybe these people see what happened then differently. But it was like 16 year old Tarin was still inside me, so bruised and so belittled, and she still felt hurt and alone and so angry at how people responded to such a traumatic event.

Thankfully, I have really great friends from that time who are still in my life, and they couldn’t have been more supportive. I even had a long phone call with one of my best friends from high school who I hadn’t talked to in about 2 years, and it was sooo incredibly therapeutic to just talk and be heard, and to hear him say things that I didn’t even know I needed to hear. So all in all, the dust settled again on that part of my life.

And then, about a week ago, good ol’ Louis CK decided he was ready to return to the public eye! Yay!

I know this shouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did, but it fucking enraged me. It really did. I don’t even want to get into it right now, because it makes me so worked up still. I tweeted the most basic of thoughts on it, but I’m not distanced enough from the anger it makes me feel to write coherently and thoughtfully. I’m also not sure it’s my place to.

So instead, I want to write about something it made me think about, in relation to my own experience. It is natural to focus so much on how sexual assault changes a person, because it does. But this past week I was also thinking about something that my own experience didn’t change, but changed how others treated it: my sexuality.

I was very in touch with my sexuality and preferences and desires before any experience with assault. But after, I think some people were worried that things like how I held myself, who I dated, and what I liked were somehow direct results of the trauma I went through. That’s a huge presumption to make, and while I understood it came from a place of concern, it was frustrating. Because assault is not sex: it’s violence. And the way I processed my experience, I was always able to keep them separate, what is an act of violence and what is an act of sex. How I used my sexuality and fed it never changed. I still only wanted sex in the context of a relationship, I still was attracted to older men, I still felt no need to hide my sexuality, and I still liked passion, adventure, thrills, and the downright dirty.

And ultimately, this all comes down to the same idea we’ve heard throughout the Me Too movement, specifically after the Aziz Ansari callout: being tuned into your partner. If you’re genuinely worried something may trigger them, it is okay to ask. But if they say no, they indeed want this, and their body language tells you no, no trigger, and everything is going great, trust them. Don’t just make assumptions, or try to tell them you know what’s best for them. “Believe women” means believing they are capable of knowing who they are and what they want, too.

Which, finally!, brings me to the music! This concept makes me think of a line in Billy Joel’s “She’s Got a Way,” where he sings, “She’s got a way of pleasin’, I don’t know what it is, but there doesn’t have to be a reason.” Because there really doesn’t have to be a reason someone is into something! You can love sex and it doesn’t mean you have daddy issues, you can decide you only want to sleep with people you’re emotionally attached to and it doesn’t mean you’re religious, you can be into kinky things and it doesn’t mean it’s because you’ve suffered a trauma. You do not have to be “damaged” or “depraved” or “old-fashioned” because you aren’t what many deem conventional or the status quo. If you’re in touch with who you are and know what you like, that’s amazing! And there doesn’t have to be anything more to it than that.

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To go with this song, I chose a sexy LBD by T by Alexander Wang, to pair with the notion that I can dress sexy simply because I like to dress sexy. Sometimes I want to dress romantically, sometimes I want to dress athletically, sometimes I want to dress conservatively. It all comes from me choosing to express me, and there is no more rewarding or powerful feeling than putting yourself out there into the world through your words, your dress, your unapologetic presence.

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She’s got a light around her
And everywhere she goes
A million dreams of love surround her

I do think that as a whole society is moving away from such antiquated notions, specifically about women and “why we are the way we are,” and it gives me hope! Until I see a news headline about someone running for office who believes women should fully submit to their husbands and I want to laugh/scream at once…but I do have hope, I’m clinging to that hope!

Listen to it here! “She’s Got a Way”-Billy Joel