TBT — Senior Year

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Emily, Kalpana, and me. Rules of Etiquette jumpsuit. Jessica Simpson pumps. Apt. 9 belt. Photo by Travis W. Keyes

I cannot believe that almost a year has passed since I graduated. Here I am with my friends Emily and Kalpana at an event for the Epson Digital Couture Project. It was a Tuesday night, at 5:30 or 6:30, when I received a text from Kalpana asking if I would like to go to a party she had been invited to. I love surprises, so I said yes right away. The party was at a huge industrial space in the Meatpacking District, walking distance from my dorm. Kalpana introduced me to her friend Emily, whom she had met through modeling. It was a great night, and we have all had fun together since.

That jumpsuit is one I had looked at day after day in the Savvy department when I worked at Nordstrom, and finally bought when it dropped to half price. What drew me to it was that while it’s attention-grabbing with a bold tribal pattern, the fit is relaxed and extremely comfortable. It’s like a onesie that you can do more than sleep in. I also love the duality of the print with its colors reversed — seeing two versions of the same lines reminds me of looking at a photo and its negative. I placed a belt between the two sections to accentuate this and paired it with matching pumps.

When I look back at my past, it feels a bit charmed. It’s funny, how one can go through the present without seeing the good, and go through the past without seeing the bad.

 

 

 

Neighborhood Store — Beacon’s Closet

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When I moved into my senior dorm at NYU, I was pleasantly surprised to see a clothing boutique on my block. Now I have walked past a lot of  boutiques in New York, but I got super excited about this one because it was affordable. Beacon’s Closet is a consignment store with a focus on designer labels and unique vintage items. Yes their mascot is a hipster baby (or a hipster old man), yes there are a lot of quirky things in there, but they truly have something for everyone. The small, high-ceilinged room was absolutely packed with inventory, with sections for long dresses, clothing by color, shoes, jewelry, hats, glasses, scarves, belts, and handbags.  Because there are so many things to choose from, if you put in the time you can find plenty of pieces that complement your personal style. For me, that means feminine and sophisticated. I spent five hours there on my last trip, and this is what I found:

 1. Maje top                                                              2. Tibi skirt

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                                                                 Forever 21 earrings

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Vintage velvet purse; bracelet from Croatia, from my father

3. Ella Moss dress                                                       4. Lazarus hat

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Vera Bradley purse;  poster from my mother; Forever 21 stackable rings

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Style & Co. shoes

5. Elizabeth and James dress                                 6. L.K. Bennett penny loafers

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Vintage lariat necklace

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H&M earrings; Forever 21 bracelet; Forever 21 ring

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Chanel handbag

7. Cynthia Rowley blouse                                          8. Kors Michael Kors shoes

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Forever 21 skirt; custom poster by Sir Shadow, from the 2015 Harlem Fine Arts Show

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Vintage clip-on earrings

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Xhilaration bracelets; Harajuku Lovers ring; vintage purse

9. Yumi Kim top

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Bebe reversible skirt; Jennifer Moore purse

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Anna Belen headband; Xhilaration espadrilles; poster from the NYU Bookstore

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Bracelet I have had since I was little, of unknown origin; Lady Gaga concert ring; Hello Kitty ring, found on the floor at Forever 21

10. Halston Heritage dress

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Narmi watch

11. Sportmax dress

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    Vintage purse with abalone shells and wooden handle

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This dress is comfortable and convenient — it zips in the front and has spacious pockets!

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Earrings from Iran, from a friend

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Bracelets from my mother; Forever 21 ring; Sbicca espadrilles

12. Nonoo dress                                                     13. Marc Jacobs flats

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Purse from my great-aunt; clock from Indonesia, from a friend

My wardrobe has always been a mix of fast fashion, vintage, and gifts from family and friends, so I am very happy to have found Beacon’s Closet. They have four stores in NYC, and a website for everyone else! Happy shopping.

 

TBT — 2013

Brette Portrait

Top, A. Byer; skirt, Forever 21; shoes, Alba; necklace, Forever 21; “happy” necklace, Forever 21; bracelet, a gift from my grandmother Sylvia; vintage watch; black flower ring, Folk Art Gallery; lips ring, Claire’s; heart ring, street fair on Broadway; headband, Anna Belen; belt, Forever 21; handbag, H&M.

It’s been a month and a half since I graduated from NYU, and I am left with so many wonderful memories. One great experience was doing a photo shoot with a fellow student for his class project. The prompt was to create a “portrait” of a person, that is, to capture her or his everyday life. I had met Jordan in 2012, when we both lived in the same freshman residence hall. In Fall 2013, when we were sophomores, he approached me about the project and asked me to come up with a few outfits and make a list of places I go to on a typical day. The first places that came to mind were the NYU library, Washington Square Park, and Forever 21. We shot at and around the Forever 21 store in Soho.

Ages 19 and 20 were a fun, carefree, and experimental time for me stylewise. I was inspired to look girlier than ever before, hunting down bow and flower headbands specifically and trying both blush and white eyeliner for the first time. The shoes were of the “heel-less wedge” variety, inspired by Noritaka Tatehana. It’s rare for me to wear more than one necklace at a time, but I decided to add my “Happy” necklace to express how happy I was with my new life in New York.

Brette Portrait 2

I generally wear two or three main colors in an outfit, and I love to blend from one shade to another in the same color family. I snapped a skinny belt at the waistband to differentiate between the top and the skirt, and because I love bows.

Brette Portrait 3

Browsing in Forever 21. I actually didn’t buy anything. There was a pair of black skinny jeans with small words in white cursive scrawled up and down the legs, that I was thinking about getting but didn’t get. Since I can still visualize them perfectly three years later, I probably should have gotten them.

Of course as I have gotten older, I have been wearing work-appropriate outfits more often than not. I don’t think there is a single part of this outfit that I would wear to work! Okay…maybe the bracelet, watch, and handbag…but not at the same time. The professional world is exciting and fulfilling, but one’s life outside the office is important too. So when I’m not at work, I like having the nerve to wear whatever I want.

Photos by Jordan Star

Dorm Decor — How to Make a College Dorm Feel Like Home

Maybe it’s because the place is called a “dorm” and not an “apartment”. Maybe it’s because “dorm” is short for “dormitory”, a word that makes me think of Hogwarts and other boarding schools for people between the ages of 11 and 18. Maybe it’s because the dwelling is used in conjunction with a specific institution (a university), as opposed to being a dwelling amongst the dwellings of people whose activities and occupations have nothing to do with yours. But for whatever reason, outsiders to the college experience, or even those people who graduated more than a decade ago, tend not to think of a college dorm as a home.

Home is where the heart is

Yet besides being where the heart is, a home is a place where you live on a longterm basis. It is the place where you wake up in the morning, keep your possessions, entertain guests, watch TV and update your social media, spend quality time with a loved one, and curl up under the covers after a long day. For me, the place where I do all of these things is an NYU dorm in the East Village. At New York University (NYU) I live 3,000 miles away from all of my family members in California. And because Manhattan is the second most expensive region for housing in the United States, my plan was always to live in a dorm for four years. Now I am on Year Three, and my plan has been going well. Along the way, I learned the three most important ways to make your dorm feel homey:

1) Move as many of your possessions as possible to your dorm

2) Invest in interior design hardware that is compatible with dorm regulations

3) Use empty space in unconventional ways 

I moved 90 percent of my California clothing items to New York and have purchased many wonderful things during my college years, and I keep all of it in one dorm room. I got the stuff out here by packing multiple 70-pound suitcases and shipping large boxes, but fitting everything in has been the greatest challenge by far. What changed everything was investing in command hooks and a portable clothing rack.

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Besides being easier to use than a heavy hammer that could crush your fingers if you drop it, command hooks are great for college dorms in particular because they can be mounted and removed without leaving a mark on the wall (no paying for damages when you move out!). I have 50 command hooks in my dorm, and they can be used for every clothing item imaginable.

BELTS

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Lineup inspired by Christian Grey’s playroom

Command hooks work for all types of buckles:

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Small rectangle (Desa)   Large horseshoe (my mother’s)   Sash (Forever 21)

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Large square (Apt. 9)          Small horseshoe (vintage)  Large circle (Forever 21)

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 Snaps (Forever 21)    Hole punch (vintage)

SCARVES

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Scarves of all lengths and shapes can fit on a command hook:

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Infinity (Apt.9)                     Short  (Ben Berger)            Small square (Vintage)

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Large square (Grand Bazaar in Istanbul)  Silk (vintage Georgiou)  Pussy bow (Payless)

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Long and thick knit (Gap)

HANDBAGS

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H&M, vintage Kathy van Zeeland, vintage, Candies’s; Forever 21, vintage, Apt.9, Chateau, Sears

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Vintage Pylones; Loungefly Loves Hello KittyI came across this Hello Kitty command hook for $7 at Target.

NECKLACES

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One standard size command hook can hold at least 13 necklaces

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PORTABLE CLOTHING RACK

My dorm came with one closet, which is enough space for my jackets and coats. What about everything else? I found a two-rod,wheeled clothing rack for $27 at Kmart, and it is large enough to hold my dresses, jumpsuits, tops, skirts, jeans, leggings, and pants; in other words, everything that won’t fit in the standard closet!

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Dress by City Studio; skirt by Forever 21

MAKE USE OF EMPTY SPACE — THE TOP OF THE DRESSER

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While I am not allowed to remove this dresser, I can use it to display my jewelry.

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 Sunglasses by Foster Grant, Girlprops, Target, and St. Mark’s Place

Bow from American Apparel; Blue watch made by my mother, gold watch, vintage; Dried rose given to me by a boyfriend in 2012; Box of rings hand-decorated by my sister; Purse by Magid (from my grandmother in Istanbul)

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Left to right: Claire’s, my mother’s, vintage, vintage Ethel & Myrtle, Forever 21, vintage, Forever 21

Vintage, vintage Ethel & Myrtle, Forever 21, Forever 21, Barbie Girls, Forever 21, gift a friend brought back from Iran

Forever 21, vintage, my mother’s, my mother’s, my mother’s, Claire’s, Forever 21, H&M 

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Watch, vintage Narmi; Bracelets: gift a friend brought back from India, Forever 21, my grandmother’s, Macy’s, my mother’s, Macy’s, gift a friend brought back from India

Earrings, street vendor in Berkeley, CA; Brooches: vintage, vintage, vintage, vintage, gift from my grandmother in Istanbul, vintage 

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Sophie, gift from a friend, vintage Betty Boop, vintage Le Baron, Xhilaration, vintage Adrienne

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All of my rings are kept in my ring box; a small purse can store bracelets when it is not being worn

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  The top of a dresser can also store shoes. 

 Lamp, gift from a boyfriend in 2013; Heels: Forever 21, Style & Co., vintage Colin Stuart, vintage Caressa, Nina 

DESK SHELVES

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We line up our shoes on closet shelves, so why not desk shelves? 

 Fioni, vintage BCBG, vintage Nine West, Divided by H&M, vintage Style & Co

Nine West, vintage Linea Paolo, Rue21 etc!, Sbicca, Xhilaration

YOUR WORK SPACE

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     As you can see from the books, computer, and printer, this desk/shelving unit is primarily a space for me to do my work. Yet there are actually many ways to make your work space aesthetically pleasing, and even ways to store accessories!

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My “fun books” (non school-related)

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A vase of fake flowers is a romantic and permanent way to decorate a home. I found my four roses at PANY in Chelsea, a shop stocked entirely with fake flowers in hundreds of varieties. I found two matching vases for the flowers at Pier One. A vase without water also comes in handy for headband storage and display. Speaking of niche boutiques, Anna Belen in the Upper East Side is a cute shop that specializes in affordable headbands and other hair accessories. 

Headbands: Topshop, Anna Belen, Anna Belen, Anna Belen, Forever 21

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Shoes as bookends: Divided by H&M, Albano (from Istanbul); An Aldo clutch rests on the desk; fashion magazines

THE HEATER

The top of a long heater can be used as a shelf for shoes, provided that the vents are not on the top (mine are on the  front side).

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If your heater takes up this much space, you might as well make use of it! 

Forever 21, Aldo, Elle for Kohl’s, Forever 21, Shiekh, Alba

NAVIGATION

I have lived in New York for three years, and I still do not have all of the subway routes memorized! A large subway map on the wall acts as a display piece and helps me plan my routes in advance (so I never have to ask for directions).

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PETS

I can’t speak for every college, but NYU does not allow pets in a dorm, unless they are fish. So I bought a Grumpy Cat with an NYU scarf to keep me company!

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Grumpy Cat hates this picture. 

Once you are finished with all of your housecleaning, you can sit and relax!

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On me: Vintage A. Byer top, H&M tiered skirt, my mother’s pearl earrings, Forever 21 “Happy” necklace

On wall: MG Collection, vintage, vintage, gift from a friend, heart purse designed and sewn by me, Magid (from my grandmother in Istanbul), Mary Frances taxi purse

I moved into this particular room at the beginning of the last Fall semester, and am staying here for the Summer term. By the time the Summer term is over, I will have lived in this dorm room for a full calendar year. Seems like as good a reason as any to make a request that I stay in this room as a senior!

No matter what school you go to, how many roommates you have, or how long you plan to stay in a dorm, there is always a way to make your space reflect your taste, and to make your dorm feel like home.