LFW street style edit

It's that time of year again. The time when bloglovin, instagram, and twitter feeds are flooded with street style pics, blurry runway shots, and presentation reviews. Due to the sheer volume of it all, I've fallen behind on keeping up with the constant flow. And from what I've seen of NYFW, I don't think I'm missing out on much (street style wise.) Last year many people had toned down their outfits after Suzy Menkes started a wave of backlash against outlandish, peacocking outfits. It seems this time around all that has been forgotten. And it hurts my eyes.

There were so many weird, garish layering looks that confused me beyond belief. I can appreciate a good fluffy coat, but not with 5 other statement pieces packed along. And oh, you're going to complain how it's 5 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside but then proceed to have bare legs while draping your coat over your shoulders, instead of, I don't know, wearing it?

And then there was London. London is usually my favorite in terms of street style, and this year was no exception. While the street style wasn't the best, it was definitely an improvement from NY.

Obviously I don't have any sort of background in fashion so my opinions are from a plebeian's point of view, but some of the choices were just screaming "give me all the attention!!" instead of "yeah I'm a fashionable gal just living the fashionable life at fashion week."

Was I the only one who felt this way? What are your thoughts on fashion week street style so far?

following snaps of fashionable gals being fashionable at fashion week from: harper's bazaar, vogue, style.com, & elle uk

faking an effort

Last week was kind of crazy school-wise. And on those days I don't want to spend any time fussing over what to wear, I immediately reach for the comfiest pieces possible. In this case that included worn in booties, destroyed beyond belief boyfriend jeans, and an oversized turtleneck sweater. To make it look like I put in some effort, I decided to apply some lipstick. To me, there's just something about wearing lipstick that says "I tried today"...even if I really didn't.

turtleneck sweater: h&m, jeans: urban outfitters (similar), boots: arturo chiang, bag: urban outfitters (on sale), lipstick: Audrey by nars

how to take your own blog photos: part i

There are many pros and cons to taking your own photographs vs. having someone taking them for you, but the decision is ultimately up to the individual. I fall into the latter category as I take about 95% of the photos you see on this blog.

And while I'm not a professional photographer, and don't have any formal training in photography, photography has been one of my hobbies since high school.

I like to think I've learned something over the years.

Naturally, there's still so much for me to learn and vast room for me to improve, but I do want to share my experiences so far. As my blog is mostly personal style, I'll focus on tips on how to take your own outfit photos, but much of the info can be applied to all types of photography.

For the first installment, I'll be talk abouting the equipment in general that is necessary for taking your own photos, as well as what equipment I specifically use.

Obviously the camera is a basic necessity when it comes to taking photos for your blog.

There are three types of digital cameras these days: point and shoots, dSLRs, and hybrids that fall somewhere in between. Point and shoots are the lightest and cheapest option of the three. The downfall is that they also give you the least control over your photos. If you venture into the pricier end of the spectrum, you do start seeing cameras like the Canon g1x mark ii which offer manual controls, wide apertures (allow you to have shallow depth of field), high ISOs (allow you to shoot in low light situations), and the ability to shoot in RAW (kind of like a digital negative of a photo.) But at those prices you can get a SLR.

SLRs are the chunky, serious looking cameras that seem to be the preferred camera for many professional and amateur bloggers alike, myself included. With manual controls, you get the maximum amount of control in how your photo turns out. But if you're more comfortable with shooting in automatic, you have that option too. Settings like shutter and aperture priority mode also come in hand, and are a great way to working up to shooting in manual mode. If you decide to shoot in RAW, you can adjust your exposure and white balance on your computer. In addition, there's an obvious increase in photo quality.

Last but not least, there are the hybrids, or in proper terminology, the mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. I've never used one of these, but I gather they're the in-betweeners-- in size, quality, and features. Here's an article recently published by cnet on the best cameras in this category.

Unless you plan on printing very large pictures, there's no need to get caught up in the number of megapixels. Factors that I find of importance are ISO, maximum and minimum shutter speed, number of autofocus points, battery life, exposure modes, and obviously price.

If you're looking for an entry level SLR camera, Canon's rebel series and Nikon's 3000 and 5000 series are two good options. When I was on the market for a camera, I went a small step up as I wanted something a bit more.... sturdy. The entry level cameras provide an expansive range of features at a great price range, but they felt a bit light and plasticky.

I've had the Nikon d90 for more than 5 years old and it's still going strong. It's been through the wind, rain, and snow. It's been dropped more times than I can count, yet it still keeps going. The equivalent in Nikon's current line would probably be the d7000 or the new d7100.

**Great sites to find reviews on cameras are: CnetKen Rockwell, DPreview, and Imaging Resource 

**Sites to track prices for cameras are: Canon price watch and Nikon price watch

Choosing a lens comes into play when you've got a camera with interchangeable lenses.

When purchasing a lens, the two basic elements you'll want to look at are its maximum aperture and focal length. The focal length basically determines how zoomed in or zoomed out your photos will be. Most entry and mid level cameras use a crop sensor, so a 35mm lens will provide you with a standard frame of view. Kit lenses for entry level cameras are usually of the 18-55mm range, with apertures of 3.5-5.6. That means at 18mm, your max aperture is 3.5, but at 55mm your max aperture is only 5.6.

For the best compromise between price and quality, I would recommend going with a prime lens (that means it's at a fixed length, you can't zoom in or out.) You'll want one with a wide aperture, around 2.5 or less.

Wide aperture= less in focus = more bokeh

Personally, I almost always shoot with a Nikon 35 mm f/1.8G lens.

The sites listed above in the camera section also provide extensive reviews on lenses.

I'm self conscious enough when taking photos, so I have no interest in lugging around a large tripod and calling more attention to myself. Instead I use a mini tripod, the Gorillapod slr-zoom. It's perfect for inconspicuous picture taking. There are various knock-offs available on amazon and eBay but I'd recommend going with the original. If you purchase a cheaper version and it's unable to bear the weight of your camera, it can all come crashing down. Literally. Obviously since it's not very tall, you have to prop it up on a bench of ledge to get some height. Thanks to its bendable legs, you can also wrap it around something like a post or the links in a fence.

Wireless Remote
Using a wireless shutter release is 100x better than using a self timer in my experience. It's easier to focus your camera, plus you don't have to run back and forth from camera to pose from camera to pose. You also avoid the risk of moving your camera accidentally when pushing the shutter on your camera. I have two: one Nikon one, and one by Amazon basics which works just as good as the Nikon and at half the price. Random tidbit, I've put the nikon one through the wash and dryer... twice, and it still works!

Memory Card: The type of memory card you use is dependent on your camera, but most cameras today use SD or SDHC cards. I use a SanDisk 16 GB SDHC card which I bought for $10 at target (you can purchase it here.) The main different between SDHC and SD cards is that SDHC cards are faster and are available in larger sizes.

**Wi-fi memory cards: I don't have any experience with wi-fi cards, but on concept they seem rather handy. Basically, you purchase the card, download an app onto your phone or computer, and when connected, your photos are downloaded onto your device of choice. This cnet article provides more information on how to use wi-fi memory cards, and which ones are most popular.

Memory Card Reader
This isn't necessary if your laptop or computer has an SD slot. While mine does, I often have to fidget with the card to get it to dock properly. It's just easier to use a cheap yet helpful USB memory card reader. I use this one from target.

Editing Software
I'm a firm believer that most photos could do with at least a little tweaking-- adjusting the exposure, contrast, color balance, etc. Luckily, there are many options out there for every budget when it comes to photo editing. You could even do a quick google search and find sites that allow you to edit your photos online.

First up is Picasa. It's a free downloadable program by Google which is incredibly user friendly; it's what I used when I first got into photography. It allows you to adjust different aspects such as contrast, brightness, and color temperature. It also comes built in with several different filters.

Another free, yet more advanced, photo editing software is GIMP. I never got around to actually using it but people refer to it as the free version of photoshop. You have much more control in editing your photos than in Picasa, and there are a plethora of tutorials online on how to use it.

In the world of Adobe, you've got three options: Photoshop elements, Lightroom, and Photoshop. In the past I've used elements and I currently use CS6. All three are powerful tools, although I prefer CS6 because my main editing is in RAW processing and curves. Rather than attempting to get into the nitty gritty differences amongst the three, I'm going to recommend reading this article published by Adorama.

Another option is to check out computers at your local public or school library. At my university, all the computers and laptops on campus come with photoshop installed. How handy is that?

And that's the end of this post!

Hopefully this information is helpful to someone out there. I wanted to properly explain everything, but at the same time didn't want the post to be 10 pages long. If you have any additional tips, requests for future topics for the series, or constructive criticisms on the post please do share :)

the art of men-repelling in neck scarves

I say out with the blanket scarves, and in with the dainty, neck scarves. And who better to look at for inspiration than Leandra?

All photos are of Leandra from manrepeller.com

the post that never would

Nothing seemed to be going right with this post. First, my shirt dress was all wrinkly after sitting in class for a few hours. Then it was unbelievably sunny and my photos were all washed out. When going to load the photos onto my laptop I somehow got my SD card a little bit wet, and poof, card corrupted, pictures gone. Photoshop was able to help resolve the first two problems to a degree, and thankfully I recently got a free subscription to a recovery software which helped salvage these photos. By the end of editing I wasn't crazy about the photos but figured what the hell, I'll post them, since I already invested more time than usual in them.

Also, arms, I don't know what to do with 'em in photos. While it's totally natural to just stand there with my arms at my sides, somehow in photographs it translates as anything but natural, almost robotic. Anyone else have this issue?

dress: urban outfitters, sandals: rag & bone

Party in the USA: micellar water edition

Last month I mentioned how Simple was releasing their very own micellar water, a product relatively new to the states. I got my hands on it at Target a few weeks ago, so I figured I would do a little review on what I thought of it in comparison to two other micellar waters by Bioderma and Sephora.

I figure I should start of with what micellar water is and how I personally use it. Micellar waters are cleansing waters that can be used to remove makeup and dirt, without needing to be rinsed off afterwards. They're much gentler than toners and work without stripping your skin of its natural oils. I use them about twice a day, once in the morning to forgo washing my face with a stronger face wash (and because I'm super lazy in the morning and the less I have to do, the better), and then at night to remove my makeup. When I use it at night, I follow up by washing my face with a proper face wash to double cleanse.

The first micellar water I tried was Bioderma sensibio after a friend brought it back for me from Europe. I'm pretty sure its the OG micellar water hailing from France.
-Price in US: $35 ($.14/ ml)
-Size: 250 ml
-Leaves no residue
-List of ingredients here

Second is one by Sephora, which comes in a large bottle with a handy pump.
-Price in US: $20 ($.04/ml)
-Size: 400 ml
-Slight fragrance, smells "clean"
-Leaves no residue
-List of ingredients here

Last is the Simple micellar water, the first US micellar water available at drugstores, to my knowledge.
-Price in US: $7-$8 ($.035/ml- $.0404/ml)
-Size: 198 ml
-Leaves slight residue
-List of ingredients here

As you can see, I did a little swatch test to compare the cleaning abilities of the three waters on Rimmel's waterproof, black eyeliner. Overall, I found Bioderma to work the best, which wasn't surprising since it's my favorite of the three. It cleans the best, is scent free, and leaves no sticky residue behind. The only downside is that the price is majorly inflated in the US, and you can't find it in stores.

In second place is the Sephora brand cleansing water, which happened to leave a little eye liner behind. But I think that's mostly due to user error as the patch of eyeliner I used it on was a tad bit bigger than the other two. This is my current cleansing water and when I use it with one of the Shiseido cotton pads, I'm able to remove all my makeup with a few pumps and a single pad. Thanks to the pump, this cleanser easily has the best packaging of the three. The bottle instructs to open the lid and press down with a cotton pad, but when you do that the water ends up splashing everywhere. But there's a simple fix for that-- push down with the lid closed, and then open and wet the cotton pad.

Last is the Simple cleansing water. While it is the cheapest of the bunch, it's also the least successful (and the one I will be returning.) As you can see in the picture, it left a lot of the eyeliner behind. It also somehow managed to spread the scrubbed off eyeliner all over my skin surrounding the swatch. I tried taking a closeup of this so you could see the little blank specks of eye liner left over. Overall, I was pretty unimpressed by this cleansing water and I'm still waiting for a cheap micellar water option.

Nouveau cheap did a review on the Simple one as well, and the comments seem to be a bit more positive than mine.

Other micellar waters available in the US are made by VichyLa Roche-PosayRenLancome, and Dior. I did try the Dior one in stores and found it to be overly fragrant and not that effective, considering the price.

I've also heard many good things about the Garnier one, but it unfortunately isn't sold in the US :(

If you've tried/ regularly use any micellar waters I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations :)

vintage stars & stripes... & stripes

I would be a strong contestant for the title of worst vintage/ thrift shopper ever. In general, vintage clothes are something I can admire from afar on others. I rarely have the patience to sort through the racks at forever 21 and goodwill is 10x worse, often times topped off with a not so pleasant stench. This skirt is the product of one of my few successful vintage shopping excursions...2 years ago. It was purchased from a charity shop for the American Cancer Society. I was iffy about it at the time, but I figured the money was going to charity so even if I never wore it at least it wasn't money down the drain. 2 years later and it's finally getting some wear time.

top: asos, skirt: vintage, shoes: urban outfitters (similar from nordstrom, forever 21, free people)

^ you guys, I'm apparently taking a small break from resting bitch face 

spring trend edit à la French Vogue

One thing fashion lacks, uniformity. I read no less than 10 different spring 2015 trend reports by various publications this weekend and no two lists were the same. Of course there are some overlaps, but there's even discord in naming the trends. Is it 70s revival? Return to Bohemia? An ode to everything fringed, suede, and flared? And even amongst the trends there's plenty of overlaps in terms of content. For example a denim, button down, pinafore could easily be filed under several categories-- 70s, denim, jumpsuits (ish.)

I don't see this lack in uniformity as a bad thing, though. Difference in opinion is always welcome. Without it the entire population would be dressed head to toe in the same, de-facto uniform. How boring would it be if every single street style shot was of the same pair of rockstuds, same dress, same Céline bag, and same artfully tousled lob?

For this installment of my own spring summer 2015 trend edit, I picked inspiration from this list published by Vogue Paris, because I believe in the power of Emmanuelle Alt.

Keepsake romper, Topshop suede mini skirtFree People fringe purseEcote croft romper, Band of Outsiders cargo skirt, Zara layered skirtEssie nail polishUrban Outfitters lace up heels,  Rachel Comey floral maxi, Urban Outfitters fringe tank topIro silk top, Tibi feathered peplum top, Eddie Borgo fringe earrings

resting bitch face strikes again

My blog could probably be renamed something along the lines of "the chronicles of resting bitch face girl." Or perhaps it could be the tagline of my blog, Sharmtoaster: life and times of resting bitch face girl.

Of course, all this could be assuaged if I just smiled at the camera. But that never seems to work out either, and I end up looking 10x more uncomfortable. So resting bitch face it is. It's the lesser of two, awkward evils.

dress: forever 21 (similar), jacket: h&m, boots: stuart weitzman

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