Dolce and Gabriella

Little thoughts from the Big Apple


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Wishing for pockets

Today, I’m wearing a blazer and pants: two articles of clothing that have served their purpose for men, largely unchanged, for over 100 years. Yet modern womenswear designers have rendered both of these timeless pieces completely dysfunctional by refusing to put in adequate storage compartments.

Why don’t my clothes have any pockets? I just walked into the bathroom with my phone and realized I had no place to put it. I didn’t want to set it on the sink (ew), so I ended up sticking it in my bra. Girls, we shouldn’t have to live like this.

I could get super feministy here and say the reason women’s clothes are still largely designed to be less substantial, less comfortable, and less functional then men’s is that the apparel industry is part of the PATRIARCHY MACHINE, man. The machine keeps us in place by keeping us dependent on men to hold all our shit while we pee. But that’s just a theory.

 

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Thrifted blazer, J. Crew Factory top (on sale here), H&M pants from a few years ago, Keds Champion sneakers in Navy (on Amazon.)

And my search for the perfect black blazer (with inside pockets) continues.

 

Linked up to Living in Color.


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The beginning and end of my career at Net-a-Porter

Today, I was sent on a run to deliver copies of domino to Net-a-Porter’s HQ downtown. I was thrilled. Maybe I’ll meet someone I can keep in touch with, I thought. I’d LOVE to work at Net-a-Porter someday!

“LOL RIGHT,” replied Fate. “It’s Monday, remember?”

After a muggy subway ride, I arrived, sweating, at the building on Fifth Avenue. I signed in with the security guard, then frantically finger-combed my hair as the elevator rose alllll the way to the tippy top.

When the doors opened, I found myself in a glass room. Small. No furniture. The only fixture was a set of gigantic, gleaming, heavy doors. Not intimidating at all, right?

I bravely pushed through and walked into the black-and-white waiting room. It was spare, serene, and completely empty, save a girl seated behind a big desk, staring at me from across the room. Clearly, she got the color scheme memo, because she was wearing all black and had the most perfectly sleek head of platinum hair I’ve ever seen. We’ll call her Lemon Chrome.

“Hi,” I said nervously. “I’m here to drop off magazines…from…domino magazine.” Wow. Nice.

“Ok,” Lemon Chrome whispered. Her whisper tone indicated I should also be whispering.

“Where should I leave them?” I whispered back apologetically.

“Here.” Lemon Chrome looked pointedly at the counter in front of her, yet made no move to reach for the magazines.

Uneasily holding her gaze, I put the package on the counter and slid it toward her. I let go.

“Thanks,” she whispered. Still no movement.

“Um, yeah,” I whispered back. “Have a nice day.” I tiptoed back across the office to the big black double doors.

On the doors, I noticed a discreet metal plaque that said “pull,” so I reached out and pulled on the left one. It was locked. I pulled on the right. Also locked. I could see Lemon Chrome staring at me in the lacquer reflection of the doors and started to panic. Oh my God I am locked in Net-a-Porter. 

“You have to push the button,” Lemon Chrome whispered frustratedly from across the room.

I looked around. There was a small black button to the right of the doors. Oh, so it’s an automatic door on the way out, I thought. Fancy. I pushed the button and stood back, waiting for the doors to open.

Nothing. I stood there for five seconds and pressed it again.

I heard an exasperated whisper-sigh from across the room. “Push the button THEN PULL,” Lemon Chrome hissed.

I pulled. Still locked.

“PUSH THE BUTTON THEN PULL REALLY FAST,” said Lemon Chrome. She was past whispering at that point.

So I did. I pushed the button, then I pulled really fast, then I scurried out of Net-a-Porter as fast as I could with what little dignity I had left. I did manage, however, to snap a picture of the big black doors before I got in the elevator. The big, black, shiny doors, which apparently serve no purpose other than to mark the symbolic divide between Lemon Chrome’s people and me. After all, when an entire room is glass, a set of big black doors can really only be symbolic.

big black doors

 

I imagine asking people to open the doors on the way out of their interview is Net-a-Porter’s first defense against incompetent employees. Thank goodness domino has a normal door.

 

 

But really, Net-a-Porter, I love you and all your high-class inaccessibility. No hard feelings–I’ll try the doors again someday.


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Making your first business cards

Domino has a big event this week where I’ll hopefully get to mingle with lots of important people. In the words of my boss, everyone who would ever hire me at Conde Nast will be there. No pressure, right?

Putting a little extra effort into prepping for events with big networking potential is 100% worth it. No matter where you work–but especially in fashion–who you know is everything. You never know in an industry so close-knit when you will run into someone again, and who will one day be able to offer you a great opportunity. It’s extremely important to make a good first impression.

I thought it was high time, therefore, to put some time into my personal branding this weekend and design a business card that I’ll be able to use while in college. After designing and printing them, I’ve learned a few lessons.

 

design your first business cards

 

1. I actually wanted a “calling card,” not a business card.

A business card usually has your company logo on it and tells people where you work. Instead, get a calling card—a card with your personal contact info on it, not your job stuff—that represents you as an individual, not an employee. It’s more practical for a young professional like me, because I can keep the same card as I move from job to job, and hopefully people will appreciate the effort I’ve put into building my personal brand. Which brings me to:

2. Your card should feel like you.

A calling card can be much more creative than a business card. It sets the mood for your professional personality; it’s what people will remember you by after your first meeting. The design you choose should reflect who you are and who you aspire to be. It should feel good to you. In other words, it has to mesh with your vibe, bro.

3. Keep it simple.

Gimmicky cards (see here and here) can be cool, but you probably don’t need that many bells and whistles right now. In fact, something super fancy could backfire on you. Really, your card is just like your outfit; you want to look like you care, but never like a try-hard. A well-designed card in a simple color scheme is like jeans, a blazer and heels: always appropriate.

callingcard2

Image from Pinterest (but here’s Kate Moore’s cool site!)

4. Give ‘em all the good stuff.

Your card should always give your name, email, phone number, and school (if you’re a student). If you have an awesome website, blog, or other online presence, include that too! Another great way to show that you’re with the times is including your social media handle (which, if possible, should be the same across all platforms) or the URL of your LinkedIn page. Just make sure that the info you give leads only to places that you’re proud of and that are professional.

5. If you don’t know how to design it, find someone who does.

I’m in d-school and feel comfortable making my own cards on Adobe Illustrator. If you’re not, don’t be afraid to ask for help. See if a person in the art department or career center can give you some feedback on your work. And if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, outsource it. Trade favors with an artsy friend or contract someone online to do the work for you (there are lots of affordable options on Etsy). This investment in yourself is 100% worth it. Just don’t use one of those crappy templates on the business card sites…they all look cheesy!

6. How it feels is just as important as how it looks.

A great design can’t make a great impression on a cheap-feeling card. It’s not like it has to be letterpressed linen, but paper quality absolutely makes a difference. When in doubt, choose something that feels thicker, substantial, and distinctly paper-y (not plastic-y).

If possible, go to the printer and feel the cards before you order them. If a batch of cards is super cheap to print, there’s probably a reason and you’re not going to like it (looking at you, Staples.)

calling card 3

Good feels. Image from my Pinterest via invitedink on Etsy.

7. Extend the design to the rest of your stuff.

Carry the design of your new cards over to the rest of your stuff: your resume, your website, and your portfolio, if you have one. Nothing says “I am WITH it” like a cohesive bundle of professional goodies.

sara duncan

Weak. in. the. knees. Image from Sara Duncan’s Behance.

 

After a few hours of fiddling, I ended up with this. I think I like it—it fits me. Is it my “forever” card? Probably not, but I’m glad I have it to hand out at events this summer.

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I’d love to hear business/calling card tips and tricks from people who have been at this longer than I have, particularly people in creative industries. What’s the most impressive card you’ve ever seen?


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Pattern Play Tuesday

Good morning!

I’m very, very picky when it comes to patterns. I’m a snob about stripe widths and polka dot placement. Most florals I don’t like, and don’t even get me started about plaids.

My wardrobe is probably 95% solids, which is why everyone acts really surprised and impressed when I show up wearing something patterned. I picked up this dress at Goodwill before I left California…I’m not crazy about the print, but I thought for $6 I could give it a shot. Based on the compliments I’ve gotten today, I think it’s a success! Maybe I should wear prints more often.

 

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Krina Zabete for Target dress (found at Goodwill), Dolce Vita boots on sale at Nordstrom, H&M sunnies (buy here)

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Dolce Vita boots…half off at Nordstrom right now!

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H&M sunglasses I got on Saturday in Soho

Too bad I’m not getting to use my new sunglasses yet. It’s been raining since Monday morning in NYC. Cross your fingers for sunshine soon– this California girl needs some Vitamin D!


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First Week Snaps

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 The side of the Empire State Building (taken early in the morning on my first day of work)

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Gorgeous flowers on the first day of work from the best mom in the world!

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Having my Gossip Girl moment at Grand Central (spotted!)

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An espresso moment/spiritual awakening at La Colombe in Soho

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A pretty new dress to make my Saturday perfect

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I’ve used my umbrella more times in my one week in New York than I have ever at USC.


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9 ways to fake being a local in New York

Today, I was shopping at a boutique in SoHo (Soho?), when a salesgirl a few years older than me came over to help.

“That dress is cute,” she said, pointing to the chambray fit-and-flare I was wearing. “Where are you from?”

I should have smiled and said, “LA! And you?” Instead, I prickled at the way this chick with a trendy bob and perfect eyeliner instantly knew I wasn’t a real New Yorker.

“Here,” I said curtly. “I’m from here.”

“Oh!” she replied. But I saw it in her eyes. She knew the truth. She could smell the Wisconsin on my breath.

I’m not a real New Yorker. I’m not one of those girls who strides confidently across the street while the “do not walk” sign is lit. I don’t know how to ride the subway, standing, without holding onto any poles. Hopefully, this is because I have other attractive qualities (California cool? Midwestern charm?) that make up for the aura of efficiency and competence that I lack. But just in case, I’m finding ways to fake it so I don’t feel quite as inadequate when I look at all the impeccably polished girls along my morning commute through the garment district.

Here are some pointers I’ve come up with during my first week in New York. They’re little things I do to try and feel less like a tourist in the city that’s currently home. Maybe they’ll help you pass as a local, too.

 

How to fake being a local

 Image from Darren Johnson on Flickr (Creative Commons.)

1. People enter the subway through the outside edges of the doorways. They exit through the center.

I would never have noticed this if a nice lady I struck up a conversation with on the subway hadn’t mentioned it. She said that it’s easy to spot tourists because they stand in the middle of the doorway trying to get on the train, but they end up being trampled in the steady stream of people getting off. Mentally divide the doorway opening into three lanes: people get on through the left and right lane and get off through the center lane.

2. Get your Metrocard out before you go down into the subway station.

This is for two reasons. One, it makes you feel less flustered: you don’t have to fumble around in your wallet for your card as people swarm around you toward the turnstiles. Two, it’s safer: your wallet is safely tucked away (and you’ll be less distracted) as you navigate a large crowd of people.

3. Give addresses as intersections, not numbers.

When people/cab drivers ask you where you’re going/where you live, they’re not looking for the street number. Numbers mean nothing to these people. Give them the street/avenue your address is on first, then the nearest cross street (like, “I live on 56th [Street] and 5th [Avenue.]”) Most of the time you don’t have to say “street” or “avenue,” because people can guess from the type of numbers you give. If you’re in between two cross streets, you can also use “between” (as in, “I live on 56th between 5th and 6th.”)

4. Catch a cab going the same direction you are.

If you’re trying to go uptown, catch a cab that’s already on an avenue going uptown. If you want to go uptown and you get in a cab going downtown, you’ll pay extra for the distance it takes to turn around. Most roads go only one way, but the next one north/south/east/west will probably be going the other way.

5. The lights on top of the cab tell you if it’s available.

Avoid looking like a noob by only trying to hail cabs that are actually open for business. An empty, on-duty cab will have only the middle lights lit. When all the lights are off, the cab already has a passenger inside. When all the lights–the center light giving the cab number and the two side lights–are on, the cab is off duty.

6. Know what you want before you get to the front of the line.

Ironically, I’m the queen of order-postponing at Starbucks counters and drive-thrus back in California. When it’s time to give my order I usually still don’t know what I want, and I spend several more seconds deciding. This doesn’t fly in New York. Get up to the counter, give your order, and get out of the way.

7. Don’t be glued to Yelp/Maps.

Yelp doesn’t know everything and at times isn’t even helpful (I don’t want coffee 0.6 miles away, Yelp! I want coffee NOW!) And map apps don’t have every place in their database. I think in LA we’re really used to destination traveling, where you drive from one hotspot to the next one miles away with a sort of tunnel vision. Because of how sprawled out the city is and because we drive everywhere, it’s difficult to wander and discover new things.

Totally not the case in New York. Here, every single street houses dozens of places worth visiting. You don’t always need to set out with a destination in mind–in fact, doing so can make you miss even better things you come across along the way! It’s just as fun to walk along a new street and see what hidden gems Yelp didn’t show you.

8. Get Seamless.

The pop culture New Yorker never cooks dinner. The real New Yorker never cooks dinner, either. As far as I can tell, this is because 1) the average New York kitchen has exactly one square foot of counter space and 2) groceries are so ludicrously expensive that it doesn’t save money to cook your own meals. Most people use Seamless, a website that lets you order food online for delivery or takeout from thousands of different restaurants.

9. Ask for help.

The secret about scary New Yorkers is that they were all, at one time, the very scared newcomer. Don’t believe the stereotypes: most of the people I’ve met here have been very kind. If you need directions on the subway, ask; someone will answer you. And further, don’t be afraid to reach out to role models. I chatted with a girl about ten years older than me at a lunch last week. She has one of my dream jobs (writer at a major magazine.) Despite extreme anxiety about doing it, I asked her for her email address and if she’d like to get coffee this week. Having conversations with people you admire is a great way to get inspiration and a little direction, two things that are crucial when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

 

Real New Yorkers, I’d love to hear what tips you have for feeling more at ease in the city. What do you all do that I’m still missing?


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The Five Things You Need for Your First Week in New York

So, my first week as a New York intern is almost over. So far, the job has been surprisingly doable. Part of that is definitely my boss—she’s so considerate and always makes sure I’m not feeling overwhelmed, and I feel comfortable asking her questions about anything I don’t know. But the other part of it is me! I said “yes” to things I never would have dreamed of doing a year ago. Navigate the subway system in a totally new part of the city to find a teeny tiny glass repair shop for a broken bowl? Sure. Network with twenty industry influencers at a four-course luncheon hosted by celebrity designer Jeremiah Brent? Bring it.

I can’t believe how much I’ve learned since I got here last Friday. New York City is still a puzzle, but at least I’m starting to put the pieces together. Along the way, I’ve made a few invaluable discoveries. I’ll start with the stuff: these are the five items that have helped me the most this week. If you’re coming here for school or an internship, I recommend getting them all!

 

1. Classic Keds ‘Champion’ sneakers, around $30 on Amazon

 

 

Image from Amazon.com.

When you cart stuff around the city all day like I do sometimes, you need a pair of shoes that are SUPER comfy. Not kind of comfy…pillow-for-your-feet comfy. These Keds (which I bought in navy) are perfect because they’re so comfortable, but also classy enough to look okay with your work outfits. And they’re easy to smoosh down and stuff in a tote bag if you change into cuter shoes when you get to work.

 

2. Frozen Mac n’ Cheese from Trader Joe’s, $2.99

Image from lunch.com.

The best, cheapest dinner I’ve found so far. It’s perfect for stove-phobes; all you have to do is plop the carton down on a cookie sheet and stick it in the oven. 20 minutes later, you have a big plate of warm, creamy comfort food. Yesterday, I was absolutely exhausted and famished after work. I devoured a tray of this in bed while watching guilty pleasure #1, Scandal. Side note: don’t get that “reduced guilt” crap. The extra calories in the full-guilt version are so worth it.

 

3. Mattress Protector, $29 on Amazon

bedbug

Image from amazon.com.

Okay, this one I found last week. I ordered it on Amazon before I came here because the idea of bed bugs terrifies me. The first thing I did when I moved into my dorm was wipe down the (gross, sagging, nylon-covered) mattress with Lysol wipes and then encase it in this protector. I feel a lot safer now with a sealed barrier between me and the mattress.

 

4. Culture iced Chai tea, $4.50

Image from www.dinneralovestory.com.

Image from http://www.dinneralovestory.com.

My boyfriend got me totally hooked on chai tea this year at school, and now it’s my favorite morning drink. I find it has just enough caffeine to get me going without making me jumpy like coffee does sometimes. Culture is a super cool little coffee shop close to my office whose chai is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. If you’re looking for something local, Trader Joe’s chai tea mix is also delicious.

 

5. Kate Spade wristlet, similar $88 at Nordstrom (and this Fossil one is just as cute for $55)

fossil wristlet

Image from nordstrom.com.

I bought this wristlet a year ago at the Nordstrom anniversary sale and put it away. I often buy things and then decide to save them for later so I can drag out the enjoyment of wearing new stuff. It’s so stupid because then I don’t get to enjoy the things I get, like this amazing wristlet I got A YEAR AGO!

Whatever, it’s still awesome now. I love this wristlet especially because it’s big enough to fit my money, cards, keys, and phone, plus the neon pink is easy to find in a big bag. When you have to haul tote bags of stuff to work every day, it’s not always practical to carry a purse, too, so a wristlet you can throw in a larger bag is really useful.

 

Moving to a new place can be overwhelming and scary, especially when that place is New York City. These things are small, but they’ve helped get me through the first few days. Hopefully, they’ll help someone else, too.