One Hundred Sunglasses

Besides being a blogger, I am a sales consultant at Sunglass Hut in Times Square — the highest-grossing store out of 3,000 Luxottica-owned retailers! Helping people with their style, talking to tourists from all over the world (Mongolia? Check. Nepal? Check. Cayman Islands? Check.), and seeing all the new luxury sunglasses come in is very exciting. Upon greeting a customer, we always let them know that they can try on any of the sunglasses on display. I thought it would be cute to say “Feel free to try everything on!”, meaning that they can look and think as much as they need to before making a purchase, without feeling judged or pressured. When I shop, I make sure to look at every product that meets my needs. It’s simple if I need a belt and there is literally one belt in the store that fits me. What’s more challenging is scouring a store with a great many qualifying products…like, say, a store that has hundreds of different sunglasses when I need sunglasses for summer. And I wondered, could I do it? Could I honestly consider every pair I liked in the entire store?

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I can. I went in on June 27, National Sunglasses Day, and spent three hours inside Sunglass Hut trying on every pair I liked. Here are 100 of the pairs I tried on:

Bulgari 6083 $370; Bulgari Serpenteyes, $470; Bulgari 6088, $510

Bulgari 8189, $440; Bulgari 6093, $440; Bulgari Serpenti, $410

Bulgari 8188, $470; Burberry 4241, $215; Chanel Butterfly Summer, $350

Chanel Round Spring, $515; Chanel Pilot Fall, $610; Dior Homme Composit, $565

Dior So Real, $595; Dior So Real Stud, $670; Dior Sight, $380

Dior Chicago, $395; Dior Diorama, $500; Dior Liner, $375

Dolce & Gabbana 2172, $340; Dolce & Gabbana 2169, $340; Dolce & Gabbana 4288, $330

Dolce & Gabbana 6105, $270; Dolce & Gabbana 2173, $650; Dolce & Gabbana 2170, $650 

Fendi 0060, $455; Fendi Iridia, $520; Fendi 0133, $380

Fendi 0041, $470; Fendi Hypnoshine, $695; Fendi Rainbow, $545

Fendi 0025, $355; Gigi Hadid for Vogue 5211 in black/pink and white, $140

Gucci 0061, $400; Maui Jim Nalani, $280; Maui Jim Summer Time, $319

Maui Jim Manu 64, $270; Michael Kors Hvar, $139; Michael Kors Evy, $179

Michael Kors Lia, $159; Miu Miu 52RS, $410

Miu Miu 13NS, $380; Miu Miu 52QS, $320; Miu Miu 12RSA, $410

Miu Miu 52SS, $470; Miu Miu 11RS, $410; Miu Miu 05SS, $470

Oakley Tie Breaker, $200; Oakley Elmont, $210; Oakley Frogskins, $120

Oakley Crossrange, $210; Oakley Mainlink, $200; Oakley Catalyst, $160 

Oakley Holbrook Ink Fade Collection, $170; Persol 100th Anniversary Collection, $410; Prada 65TS, $420

Prada 16TS, $460; Prada 68TS, $410

Prada 27NS; Prada 51SS, $330; Prada Cinema, $430

Prada 54SS, $330; Prada 61TS, $370; Polo Ralph Lauren 4125, $169

Ralph 5203, $150; Ray-Ban Cats 5000, $165; Ray-Ban Hexagonal Flat Lens, $150

Ray-Ban Gatsby, $185; Ray-Ban Flat Lens, $185; Ray-Ban 4274, $165

Ray-Ban Clubmaster, $175; Ray-Ban New Wayfarer, $155; Sunglass Hut Collection 1003, $80

Sunglass Hut Collection 2001 in red, black, and clear, $80-$100

Sunglass Hut Collection 2005, $80; Tiffany & Co. 4136 in brown and black, $380

Tiffany & Co. 4121, $380; Tiffany & Co. 4134, $390; Tiffany & Co. 3058, $330

Tiffany & Co. 3051, $310; Tom Ford Kasia, $390; Tom Ford Savannah, $445

Tom Ford Arabella, $475; Tory Burch 9046, $195; Valentino 4002, $350

Valentino 4005, $390; Valentino 4013, $290; Valentino 4008, $410 

Valentino 2002, $350; Valentino 2004, $380; Versace #Frenergy, $315 

Versace 4338, $240; Versace 2160, $265; Versace 4294, $240

Versace Medusa, $280; Versace 2177, $375; Versace 2140, $215

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And the winner is…the Oakley Elmont!

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Me and my new shades in my favorite corner of the store. Bebe blouse. H&M skirt. Bandolino pumps. Claire’s earrings. Topshop headband. Handbag from my mother’s friend, with no tag inside. Photo by my coworker Baruch. 

Before I started working here, I thought Oakleys were for guys. There is a scene in the TV show Workaholics where the protagonists join a fraternity, and upon their initiation a frat member says “Here are your Oakleys,” as if every frat boy wears them. I know that show is basically one long joke, but the impression stayed with me. Until I found a pair of Oakleys that was polarized, had Prizm lens technology, and was feminine enough for even me.

Happy Summer!

Sun Shady

Love This Brand — T. Tandon NY

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I met Tina at a Member of Tribe dinner party in the Hamptons. She wore a yellow backless gown, and when I told her I loved her dress, she said it was of her own design. We quickly bonded over fashion, and when I asked her about her clothing line, T. Tandon NY,  she invited me to her Spring trunk show. The event was held at the Waldorf Astoria in an intimate suite, where guests drank champagne, lounged on the couches, tried things on in the walk-in closet, and received henna tattoos. A photographer shot two models in full looks throughout the night. The Spring preview featured one rack for day and another for evening. The day offering was cheerful and delicate, with soft silk charmeuse blouses, bow and eyelet details, and incredible embellishments of fringe, feathers, beading, and embroidery. Part of me wanted to wear the poet collar blouse with a midi skirt, and part of me wanted to wear the cut-out dress and stop everyone in their tracks. The evening section was even more distinctive. Everything was leather, in its most feminine iterations. The classic black biker jacket stood out with gold flowers and chains. A dress  that was asymmetrical and peplum in front revealed itself to be backless. My favorite thing of all was a black dress with an abbreviated cowl neck and flower embroidery. It was in the evening/party section, but I could see myself wearing it anywhere! The trunk show also featured her other brand, Posh Pari Couture. Designed for the Indian market, the Posh Pari rack was filled with beautiful saris, scarves and suits.

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Tops and dresses for day. 

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Leather and sequins for night.

Tina Tandon was born in the United States, but spent her early childhood in India (ages 2-12) and her teen years in North Carolina before moving to New York for college. Her earliest memories of knowing she was interested in fashion were in India, going with her mother to the tailor for custom-made outfits. She had the desire to start her own line since “eight or nine”, saying that she has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In high school, she was teased for her background and her clothes. Now she focuses on the value of that experience. “It has given me a wide understanding of fashion, and how it relates to culture and the social dialogue in each region. In some regions, the lifestyle is more relaxed and casual, and so is their dressing choices, and in big cities like NYC, the ladies like to dress to the nines, representing their polished and ambitious outlook. In India, fashion has now become an amalgamation of traditional heritage and the western modernity.” She went to college at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), earning the Faculty Scholarship, Presidential Scholar honor, and the Jay Baker Scholarship,  which is awarded to only ten students each year. It was during these years that she developed an interest in American vintage, which continues to influence her designs. Tina started the FIT South Asian Club, interned in public relations at Escada, and worked in showroom sales at Christian Lacroix before graduating summa cum laude. She embarked on her full-time career in design and product development at West Elm, then moved on to product development at Kenneth Cole and Liz Claiborne. In 2006 she went out on her own as a freelance fashion consultant, writer, and celebrity stylist before starting her own brands, Posh Pari Couture and T. Tandon NY.

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Tina’s take on the Aztec trend, with daring black fringe.     An ombré coverup.

Posh Pari came first, in 2006. Tina calls it “an ethnic fusion line”, designed for the Indian market. Posh Pari has shown at Indian Fashion Week and the Cannes Fashion Festival. Tina started her primary focus, T. Tandon NY, in 2007. She describes her namesake brand as “modern with a hint of vintage”. Based in Manhattan, T. Tandon shows Tina’s American side. “I think it would be very cliché for me to design an Indian-inspired collection for the American market, being of Indian origins. And I am anything but a cliché!” Tina says. “This line is designed for the contemporary young, hip, jet-setting fashion savvy girls all over the U.S. and internationally,” she explains, inadvertently describing herself. Every piece stands out for its details: a graceful drape, a smooth texture, an eye-catching embellishment, a dramatic cut. All of her pieces feature embellishment or asymmetry, sometimes both.  “I like the contrast of the fluid and the static in my collections. Silk crêpes, chiffons and georgettes are often paired with structured leather pieces,” she says. She is also eager to point out that the details, like a pattern of beaded flowers on a violet blouse, are always done by hand. T. Tandon NY has a practical orientation, offering dresses, tops, skirts, pants, and outerwear for Day, Career, and Party. But of all the categories, Tina considers her signature to be “the very unique leather jackets”. Half of new businesses fail  within the first five years, but T. Tandon NY is approaching its tenth anniversary, in part due to public relations success. T. Tandon showed at New York Fashion Week, sponsored the New York Indian Film Festival (held at my school, NYU!), and has been worn by many celebrities, including Brooke Shields and Padma Lakshmi. The brand is currently sold in 38 boutiques nationwide, including L.A.’s Kitson, and has also spread to Québec, London, Jeddah, Riyadh, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Tokyo. As a resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn, my source of choice would be Sunday Brunch  in Fort Greene.

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A signature moto jacket with chains and exquisite beading.

The brand makes a point of being environmentally and socially conscious. “Giving to children and women’s causes is an integral part of our company’s modus operandi,” says Tina. The fabrics, from silks to wools, are natural and biodegradable. Manufacturing takes place in factories owned by Indian women, and the brand supports the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).  A portion of the profits is regularly donated to help underprivileged children in India so they will not be forced into child labor.  Tina recalls, “Visiting India often and seeing the poor kids on the streets and seeing them skip school to work always broke my heart.” In the U.S., T. Tandon NY has sold product for donations at Super Saturday, an annual fundraiser started by Donna Karan to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

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The Keira party dress.

Inspiration for a collection is an organic process. “It can be anything from a button to architecture in a city I visited,” Tina says. That said, the process often starts with the fabrics. “Images of various possibilities usually dance in my mind, when I see fabrics that inspire me.” Her consistent sources of inspiration are “my travels, American vintage, nature, the current trends and demands of the market, and the future where the fashion is heading.” Her muse is her mother. “Looking through her pics from the ‘60s and ‘70s really gets me excited and inspired.”

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As if a rounded collar wasn’t cute enough, this blouse is embroidered with tiny bows.

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Sexy and sweet—this backless blouse has two large bows to bridge the gap.

Tina has her pulse on the Indian market and how it is changing. Indian fashion is “extremely wedding-driven,” she says, with bridal lines getting the most attention. But she is excited by the increasing global travel and purchasing power of the young generation in India. “India used to be focused on local tailors, custom wear. Now American and European brands have penetrated the Indian market, and Indian women keep up with them,” she explains. Indeed, T. Tandon NY is carried by India’s Samsaara chain. Of course, Indian fashion carries its own influence.  “Nothing can compete with the intricate embroideries, beadwork, and embellishment techniques of India,” Tina says. She appreciates chikankari  work in particular, sometimes incorporating the technique in her spring collections. Tina has been selected as a Roshni Honoree, an award given to top South Asian professionals in America.

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My favorite thing! Note the dangling sleeve straps. When on, they create the coolest cold-shoulder shape.

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Me at the trunk show. Halston Heritage dress and Style Paris handbag.

Having worked in so many different parts of the fashion industry, Tina is seen as an industry authority, full of insight and advice for those seeking to join the fashion world. “Fashion is so saturated these days that you not only have to know the people you want to cater to, but also fine-tune your unique selling point and aesthetic as well,” she says. She gained ten years of experience in the industry before starting her own business, and she recommends that aspiring designers take time to work in the industry and learn their craft. “It can get discouraging sometimes, but it’s important to stay passionate and believe in what you have to offer.”

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Tina Tandon stands proudly before her collection.

 

 

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.

 

Love

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“Looking for Love” tank, Forever 21; pumps, INC

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in any state, and the refusal of a state to recognize marriages legally performed elsewhere, is unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that no state deny any of its residents “the equal protection of the laws”. Other cases that came down to the Fourteenth Amendment include Roe v. Wade (1973) and Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

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“Love” ring, The Market NYC; Celtic wedding ring, found on the floor at Forever 21

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“Kiss” ring, Forever 21

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Purse, sewn by me 

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The sculptor, Robert Indiana

Obergefell v. Hodges, which we affectionately refer to as “Love Wins”, was a case especially significant to me as a bisexual woman. In June 2015, I was 22. In Fall 2005, when I first thought I might be gay, I was 12. Everyone thinks of the San Francisco Bay Area as a liberal place, but there was a palpable current of homophobia at my middle school and, later, at my high school. The word “gay” was frequently used as an insult, and I got the sense that if one was openly gay there, one would not be accepted. I hung out with two main groups of friends in middle school, all female, and let’s just say that they thought lesbians were creepy. The terms “lesbo” and “lezzy” were used. Okay, only three of my friends said as much, but no one had the nerve to argue with them. Not even me. I was paranoid that someone, somehow, would figure me out. I felt certain that I would spend the rest of my life feeling bicurious inside, and simply never acting on it.

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Kiss print skirt, Forever 21

The legality of same-sex marriage across the country is about more than marriage, more than even the legal advantages of being a spouse versus a partner. This is about recognizing that although homosexuality and bisexuality are uncommon compared to heterosexuality, they are not expressions of deviance. This is about kids going to school and thinking that the homophobic people are the weird ones, not the LGBT individuals. And this is about making the United States an environment where everyone can work up the courage to find love.

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“Love” earrings, Forever 21             “Happy” necklace, Forever 21

Flowery at the Macy’s Flower Show

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The Macy’s flagship in Herald Square is an iconic landmark for Manhattan and the fashion industry alike, going strong since 1901. Whether for work trips or pure shopping, I love visiting the store; large department stores mesmerize me because they are like worlds unto themselves. Every spring this flagship has a beautiful tradition — the Macy’s Flower Show! I went in after my internship to see the gorgeous exhibit, themed America the Beautiful, and dressed in head-to-toe flowers for the occasion.

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A living, photosynthesizing American Flag

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                             Red                                                                      White

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And blue, with dainty butterflies for stars  

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                                            Exhibit creator Jessy Wolvek of Fleurs NYC

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The Pacific Northwest Wonderland. Being from California, I approve of the description. The Golden Gate Bridge was most scenic from the middle of the escalator! 

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The Vast Southwest, replete with tall cacti and rust-colored flowers

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The Majestic Rockies. It was a nice surprise to see flowers suspended from the ceiling!

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The Midwest Fruited Plains, with sunny flowers, rolling hills, and a windmill 

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Tiny lilac and pink flowers gathered together beside the escalators to escort customers to the second floor 

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Do Not Touch! Sharp and striking cacti keep company with a majestic agave.

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 An American Flag close-up in a frame, made entirely of flowers

Macy’s has a well-earned reputation for window displays, and they went all out for the flower show.

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Northeast Sound, with a lush floral lighthouse and sailboats riding the petaled waves

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The Golden Gate Bridge and a forest of giant redwoods

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The Southwestern window, with towering red rocks, cacti, succulents, and a cow skull 

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A gated garden with an angelic fountain

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Flower-bearing doggies in the window

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Me wearing the sort of thing one ought to wear to a flower show. Blouse, E.A.G. Collection; skirt with sash, Forever 21; black bracelet from my grandmother Sylvia; headband by Anna Belén

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Elle for Kohl’s shoes; Forever 21 earrings and necklace

   Forever 21 Bracelet  Forever 21 Flower Ring   Claire's ring 3

Forever 21  bracelet and rings; Claire’s ring

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Chateau handbag