Next Garden

Vancouver (and some times Los Angeles) weirdo wears stuff, takes pictures, makes fashion blog.

Finding Wonderland

alice inspired fashion blog post
This week is quite an emotional one for me... but I'll try and wade through the excessive nostalgic feels and turn this post into something productive, stick with me here.

It's midsummer/summer solstice this week, the longest day of daylight in the northern hemisphere, and it also marks the one year anniversary of when I took a leap of faith and discovered pure, nonsensical, ecstatic euphoria -- my Wonderland.

thrifted alice dress with cheshire cat bag
But of course, it was a very real place with very real people. My Wonderland is a city called Uppsala in Sweden where I stayed for 9 weeks last summer. It was a place that was strange and familiar at the same time, a place that instantly felt like home in a way no other place ever had before in my life. I can't believe it's been an entire year since I stayed there -- the scenery, the colors, the smells, the textures... they are all so fresh in my mind still.

It was also the place that birthed the initial idea for this blog (hence the .se domain name.) Ever since I left it, I have felt like a huge chunk of my heart was also left there. I don't want Wonderland to be just an ephemeral dream, however surreal of a time it might have been in my life. I followed the white rabbit of impulsiveness last year, and found myself in the exact place I felt like I was always meant to be at. I'll be back there again, sooner or later. Preferably sooner than later.

Now, shifting gears from recollection to the present: as memories of Uppsala toes the border between very real, and a very whimsical dream, I tried to take this Alice inspired outfit to a good whimsy level without it being too out of place in the real world -- it was a functional garden visiting outfit.

wonderland inspired fashion blog post
This dress was found at a thrift shop, and through a bit of curious Googling of its label, I found out that it was a school uniform from China... What a strange and long journey it must have been for it to end up here! We are all somewhere along our own strange journeys, continuously passing from one rabbit hole to another. While I might not be where I wish I was this year, there are a whole slew of different adventures to be a part of right where I am.

And as summer goes on, I want to do more photo sets that straddle the fine line between fantastical dream and the here and now.

crochet peter pan collar
Thanks to Meghan, we came up with a list of whimsical photo shoot ideas to explore -- most of these won't break the bank, they just require some smart dollar store scrounging. Will you try them too?
  • Balloons in a bundle, one giant balloon by itself... As long as it floats, you've got a winner of a shoot!
  • Sparklers at dawn/dusk... though let's be honest, I will never be awake enough for a dawn shoot unless the theme is zombies with very little motor skills.
  • Streamers or ribbons: tie long ribbons to a stick and go wild making loops while twirling!
  • Bubbles!

Photo cred: Meghan Latta @discomoon | EditingMe!
Outfit details: Dress, belt, boots: Thrifted | Bunny iron-on patch: Daiso | Socks: Urban Outfitters | Peter Pan collar: I made it! Using this pattern | Cat bag: Richmond Night Market

The Neglected Self

taxi cdc dress
So I was reading over last week's post, and realized that a deterioration in writing was evident. Maybe I was being too critical of myself, or maybe it really was kind of sub-par... One thing was for sure, I am more than aware that I was simply too drained to put together anything coherent. I'm working a lot and recharging too little, to top it all off, I'm forgetting to eat properly on most days -- note to self: coffee and cookies are not nutrients!

flying over lindeman lake
This weekend was recharge time! After eating a proper meal, I was off to the wilderness to get lost in nature. I'm not sure if I got the memo that fashion and hiking was a difficult combination to perfect for someone who absolutely thinks athleisure should disappear from the face of the planet... so of course I put on a light dress in lieu of anything sensible for hopping over rocks and climbing up dirt paths.

on top of the world!
Despite not being as agile as I could be if I just relented and put on some stretchy shorts, I felt pretty good about this journey while standing on top of that rock with the picturesque cerulean lake underneath. I felt very Picnic at Hanging Rock the entire time -- pale aesthetics amidst rugged nature.

peach 80's jacket
I had a marvelous time! Nature and the lack of phone reception did help me unwind and soak in some healthy clean air and giddy introspection. I was starting to get worried that I had hit a point in blogging where I honestly had nothing to write about -- but that was just because I was too tired last week to form any meaningful sentences in my rambling.

So in summary, this week has taught me some important rules:
  1. Form over function, every time!
  2. Eat actual food!
  3. Pastel > everything!
  4. No athleisure, ever!
Of course, these only apply to me. What are your rules for life?

Photo cred: Collin Head @deklyn21 | EditingMe!
Outfit details: Dress: Taxi Cdc | Jacket, belt: Thrifted | Shoes: Urban Outfitters

Back and Front

simple black dress in the front
There's something bout this dress I wholly adore, and it's that it is business in the front, party in the back. It doesn't take an artisan pattern recognizing genius to see that I rarely wear black. Part of the reason is because of a floofy cat roommate shedding enough hair to make a new cat on a daily basis, and the other part is that I just freaking love bright colors so much.

Admittedly, this dress wasn't instant love when I picked it up... until I flipped it around and saw the back! "Dang, you look better from behind," I whispered to myself as I added it to my want pile.

lace skull dress
The mix of mesh and lace on the back detail was A+, it really brought me back to my emo kid roots. I could hear the angelic melody of My Chemical Romance singing about how I needed this dress, and I heeded the call. So what was the lesson here? Don't judge a dress by only it's front!

While I obsessively lint-rolled my entire outfit before setting out to erase all traces of bothersome ginger cat hairs, I figured I would pay homage to the big fur baby by accessorizing with a purse that is of his likeness.

When a random person riding by on a bike yelled, "Nice kitty bag!" I was about to get very offended, until I remembered that my purse was indeed, an actual kitty bag.

cat bag skull dress
All in all, I absolutely love the ease of light dresses you can just throw on when it's too hot out to bother with layering. 'Tis finally the season when I can wear this particular number with the back showing and no need to throw a jacket over it! Covering the best part of it would be quite unfortunate indeed.

Onwards to summer wonderland and simplicity! But sometimes simple doesn't have to mean plain. The devil's in the detail.

Photo cred: Collin Head @deklyn21 | EditingMe!

Outfit details: Dress: Hot Topic | Kitty bag: Night Market | Socks: Target | Shoes: Ardene | Sunglasses: Ruffles | Bloomers: I made them!


how to style a tutu
I first met Simi a while ago when we worked on some photoshoots together -- she was the stylist, and I was the photographer, and we worked so well together that we managed to be published! Twice! I wouldn't have imagined years later I'd have a fashion blog; who would be better suited to appear on it than her? Only this time she would be styling herself!

To my surprise, she had a whimsical, frilly, super pink outfit! I had always imagined her style to be more street and too cool for school -- I guess when it comes down to it, a stylist always has a bag of tricks with many pleasant surprises.

Here's a quick Q&A with Simi!

ballerina on the streets
AngelSo tell me how you came up with the tutu outfit, and where you first wore it to.
Simi: I was inspired by an outfit I saw Rihanna wearing... It was so over the top yet casual. I started imagining myself wearing it and wishing I could, like so many of us do when we see a cool outfit we like. Instead of passing it over, I started breaking down the outfit and realized I have everything I need in my own closet to make this look happen! Including a pink tutu!

I had an art show event coming up, since fashion is my art, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to wear this -- turned out I was the only one not wearing black. The entire room turned to me as I walked in... and I owned it. It turned into conversations about, "How I wish I could do that," and, "I used to be more adventures when I was younger," coming from some younger than me.

walking across a rainbow
Angel: It's courageous of you to be the fluffy pink peacock in a sea of black outfits! Did you enjoy being center of attention?
Simi: At first they tried to judge, but I turned it in to love through confidence. It was actually slightly uncomfortable to be the center of attention for a split second... I knew I didn't want to be there and be uncomfortable, so I went back to why I put this together in the first place and owned it -- I felt like once people realized I was happy and exuded confidence in not looking like everyone else, I could feel the love

Angel: Did you ever use that legendary tutu for other outfit combos?
Simi: I first met this legendary tutu on gay pride parade a couple years ago... and I wore it over a rainbow skirt, the one from the shoot you and I did that was published in freslyWORN Magazine.

happy and giddy in pink
Angel: So just from how you styled our previous shoots with other models, I would have never expected you to put on a poofy pink tutu. How does your personal style differ from styling models for a shoot?
Simi: My personal style goes in to all of the shoots I style. It's what differentiates the look -- personal touches. My personal style is always changing with time. For certain shoots, you're hired to do a job or reach a certain goal for the client... but I always add a personal touch. I wouldn't dress a model in something I wouldn't wear myself or something I don't believe in.

Angel: Describe your current personal style!
Simi: My current personal style is as simple as I can make it, I feel like in general I have an over-the-top Versace style, so I'm always trying to venture into simplicity. My "simple" continues to still stand out, hence the pink tutu. I'm also working on a sustainable clothing style... re-working and saving where I can. The main thing about my style that never changes -- it's all about confidence!

pink tutu and velvet heels
Angel: So how do you confidently incorporate your own style into something seemingly boring, say like dressing for work?
Simi: I push the limit in the sense that if I have an item that on first look wouldn't be considered "professional," I will use that as the center piece and incorporate simple professional pieces to make the whole look. I like using patterns to make it fun!

Angel: What kind of style would you want to explore for our next photoshoot?
Simi: I'm always thinking of new ideas for shooting as pictures speak a thousand words. I always have to go with the vibe of the moment. I like to call it a game time decision -- overthinking my style isn't my style... but planning and organization is important to make a successful shoot happen.

I know as I type this, the gears in Simi's head are already turning for our next shoot. What will it be? Don't expect another tutu, because this girl is all about spontaneity! I'm super excited to shoot her again, and you can all see why!

Follow Simi on her Instagram!

Photo cred: Me!

Daylight's Wasting

fashion blogging done cheap
Two years ago if you asked me what my favorite season was, I would have probably said, "Definitely not summer!" I had a real problem with too much sun, bugs, and hot weather. Wow, you might think, in other words, you hate fun. While that's not exactly untrue -- I was kind of a downer back then, and I didn't embrace all the things that could be achieved during pleasant summer days. There was a severe lack of creative inspiration during those times, but this year I'm loving the blogging and wearing breezy bright colors with NO PANTS. That's right, pants, I don't need you anymore, catch you later!

So in lieu of pants, I managed to stock up on a summer wardrobe already without breaking the bank. When I told my new co-worker I fashion blogged, he said, "Isn't that an expensive hobby?!" It doesn't have to be! This outfit epitomizes re-using old stuff to create something new. I'm not a stickler for brand names or the tediously fast turnover of current styles, so this works to my advantage. Hint: Buy things that can be easily be used in a variety of outfits when it's off season -- you'll see racks and racks full of stuff that retailers are desperately trying to get rid of. Sure, you might not be able to wear them for a few months, but having that option in your closet for when the time is right is immensely helpful.

quirky cute summer outfit
Another hint: Keep it simple, but have fun accessories. This outfit isn't that complex: plain tank top, plain collared shirt... but I have to say, the real highlight of it is my trusty poop emoji purse. I always like to have something a little bit cartoonish to add to the quirk factor. And just look at that face, it really brings me a lot of joy. While we were taking photos, a lady ran up and asked if she could take a picture of my bag because she thought it was hilarious. See? Bonus points for having something that spreads happiness!

fashion blogger summer look
So before I started working, I had a lot of free time to roam local thrift shops. And before I started blogging, I only ever stepped into one once in a blue moon. But wow have I been missing out! If you've got the patience, rifling through them can prove to be extremely rewarding. I found a lot of adorable and affordable stuff with tags still attached, including this cute skirt! AND IT HAS POCKETS! TO PUT ALL MY SECRETS IN! Throw on a playlist to get in the zone and go find those hidden treasures if you have an afternoon to spare!

happy summer fun times
I have a resolution this year, and it's to not waste daylight hours! I'm going to jam my schedule full of photo-shoots, nature walks, arts and crafts, hang out time with precious people... Whatever it is that you enjoy, go out there and get it done! If you don't know, go out there anyway and find it! I really had to push myself to get out of a big life rut, but I swear on my poop emoji bag that it's worth it to roll yourself out there even if it seems daunting at first.

How's your summer wardrobe looking?

Photo cred: Meghan Latta @discomoon | EditingMe!

Outfit details: Tank top: New Yorker | Button down shirt: Old Navy | Belt: H&M | Skirt: Thrifted | Sunglasses: Some guy with a booth on Venice Beach | Socks, shoes: Target | Poop emoji bag: Urban Planet

Tulip Road Trip! (Part 2)

fashion blogging is best when there are flowers around
Welcome back to the second installment of Meghan and Angel's excellent tulip festival road trip blog post! While I would love to talk about how the other half of the Boater Hat Brigade™ about her outfit, she is jetsetting halfway across the globe as I type this post.

So, I'll let the photos speak for themselves, and maybe just awkwardly narrate a bit.

forever 21 mint green jacket
So let's talk about that mint green jacket (my favorite color!) I was present when she purchased it, and would have fought her over it. But alas, I'm a good friend, and good friends don't punch each other. Besides, about two weeks later, we both bloodhound sniffed out this pink letterman jacket and that one went to me instead. A happy compromise.

bright yellow hunter rain boots
Now, from what I can remember, Meghan mentioned that she planned her entire outfit around those bright yellow Hunter boots. We had initially assumed that the tulip field would have been sloppy with mud up the wazoo, but were pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually quite dry. Ginormous rain boots were not needed after all, but the color sure popped nicely among the saturated flowers!

french bulldog print shirt
Are those little French bulldogs on her shirt? You bet your sweet ass they are! In my first post with Meghan, she did mention she keeps an eye out for interesting patterns. And as someone who habitually sends me videos of ridiculous dogs doing ridiculous stumpy legged floppy things, I'm not surprised she managed to find a shirt that reflects her love for doggos.

springtime calls for boater hats and flowers
This concludes the Boater Hat Brigade™'s tulip road trip! Let's all wish Meghan a jolly good time on her European vacation. Too bad I couldn't tag along to blog from abroad... That's on my to-do list for reals.

Follow Meghan on her Tumblr or Instagram.

Now some side notes and life things:

  • I got a custom URL! The old one will redirect automatically. It's a .se for Sweden, maybe in a future post I'll go into the story for my rabid affection for Sweden.
  • Starting today, I'll be working a full time job. This blog was started when I was woefully unemployed, bored out of my mind, and had a lot of free time. But, I grew to love it so much that I will still post here weekly, no excuses.
  • Speaking of love for blogging, I'm making a separate blog just for photography. It's actually really stupid that I never thought to make a blog to go with my portfolio. D-e-r-p? Will update when I get that up and running!

Tulip Road Trip!

skagit valley tulip festival
Holy crap and a half! I had a sensory overload moment when Meghan and I drove south of the border to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. I felt like I just walked into an alternate universe and my mind exploded. Everything was wonderful and amazing and colorful and there were FLOWERS! EVERYWHERE!

Ok let me back up a little.

We have been trying to scrap together a tulip trip for quite a few weeks, but the weather was hovering somewhere between bad and worse. On top of that, Meghan was about to head to Europe for a month, so that put a now or never pressure on our flower viewing plans. There were a few flower fields in the Greater Vancouver area, but I heard through the grapevine that Skagit was the place to go. That and the pull of getting Jack In The Box (mini churros hello yes!) on the way tipped the scales for me. So on an unusually sunny monday, we set out.

fashion blogger at a tulip field
Skagit Valley is about a two hour drive from Vancouver. After Highway 99 turned into the I-5, we wandered around for a bit before we even found the place. Bad planning on my part -- I forgot to pre-load directions on my phone before my data cut off after the boarder crossing. Off in the distance, we saw patches of color, and made a beeline for it like... well, bees to a flower. Except in this case, ALL THE FLOWERS!

So what does a personal style blogger wear to a tulip field? Well apparently Meghan and I had the similar ideas. When I picked her up, she had her boater hat on. Surprise surprise, I had the same hat!

"What else would you wear to a tulip festival?" She asked cheekily.


fashion road trip
So as the Boater Hat Brigade arrived, and were immediately greeted by sunshine and a LOT of wind. Kind of too much wind, because the light cotton dress I was wearing was obscenely flying up all over the place.

Between wardrobe malfunctions and too many bags to carry, we still had a magical good time taking in the sights and taking an absurd amount of photos. At some point, I stopped caring that my dress was floating up uncontrollably, because it felt like decades since my legs have seen the sun.

Hit me up with that vitamin D!

thrifted plaid dress and slouchy boots
This place really was a dream come true. The blossoms were so densely packed that it looked unreal, like ribbons of gently swaying fabric that stretched on forever. Quite the perfect setting for a blogger -- or anyone looking for a quick hit of good vibes.

Dare I say that there were too many flowers? While yes, I was slightly losing my mind oooh-ing and ahh-ing and not knowing where to focus on, I was also crazy elated. I flitted between photographer and being photographed, all the while trying not to flip out and just dive in head first and roll around in these puffy beautiful flowers.

the best day

There was a sudden moment when we discussed how that brief tulip craze in the 1600's that crashed the Dutch economy seemed to make complete sense. I mean, just look at them.

But alas, these bright colors are fleeting, and I'm so, so happy that we caught them at the height of their bloom.

plaid dress lace top
This was honestly the best half-day trip I could ask for.

So, where's the other half of the Boater Hat Brigade and what was she wearing? I took about a fuckbillion photos of Meghan and they will be posted next week!

Photo cred: Meghan Latta @discomoon | EditingMe!

Outfit details: Tank top: H&M | Lace top: Urban Planet | Boater hat: Dressew | Dress: Thrifted | Coat: Jessica Simpson | Socks: Target | Boots: Rocket Dog