Music Madness: The New Artists You Need to Rock Out To

Music has always been a big part of my life. Growing up, I’ve swiped my sister’s or my dad’s CDs. From Avril Lavigne’s Let Go to the Reality Bites soundtrack, the groove of each beat lingers on my ear drums.

Before I delve into my top picks of the month, I used to work as a radio host at Loyola Marymount University’s online radio station and Blasts That Last, a local online radio station. Picking out songs seems like a chore, but what makes it fun is discovering what you’ve never heard before.

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No (Arche)type: How Trope Dares to Break All Molds

Christmas may be over, but the season of giving ain’t gonna end any time soon. As my birthday is five months away, the first present falls into my lap like a stork dropping off a newborn baby. Stuffed into a cardboard box, my gift was waiting for me to open it.

Instead of being wrapped in a luxurious red gift box, it’s wrapped in a white plastic bag with an Rx label on it. In place of small orange containers, I’ve been prescribed with three lipsticks and nail polishes as well a travel-sized mini highlighter. My doc is no other than Trope, a new beauty brand from Jakarta.

As a beauty junkie, the core trinity of my beauty kit consists of lipsticks, highlighters and nail polish as they strongly define my look. Regardless of the brand, I just cannot live without having every single shade under the rainbow. As much as I hate to admit this, but I get super peeved whenever beauty brands continue to peddle dupe after dupe of the same shade. (I mean, doesn’t it annoy you, guys?)

Not to overlook, but I’ve noticed that a handful of Indonesian beauty brands constantly get compared to popular Western beauty brands due to the similarities of aesthetics. Given the fact that the majority of them (e.g. Rollover Reaction and Layn) are drawn into the ’90s, each brand adds their own interpretation of it. As much as Trope is heavily inspired by the decade, it has a runway-inspired twist to its aesthetic that it reminds me of Pat McGrath. If I were to describe Trope, it’ll be the love child of Rodin (minimalist luxe aesthetic), Glossier (packaging), Pat McGrath (colors), Benefit (shimmer) and Milk Makeup (holographic highlighters, anyone?). Basically, it’s a personification of the ’90s-obsessed Instagrammer who would sneak into Style.com (before the name change) during class and read her mom’s backissues of Vogue after the cute English tutor leaves.

As a happy recipient of Trope’s bundle, I cannot wait to try it on!

Lipstick

From L-R: Duality, Peony and Flamingo

The ideal lipstick goes on like this: matte, yet creamy; soft, but not too soft. In terms of how it should look, the shade must be bright enough to seen on my lips, but muted enough for myself to wear it every single day. The pigmentation needs to feel boldly rich like whipped butter.

Thankfully, Trope has answered my prayers with their Velvet Matte Lipsticks. Despite being compressed into a flimsy Glossier-esque package tube, Trope’s formula feels similar to Revlon’s Super Lustrous mattes, which has an oil pastel crayon-esque texture. While the silhouette is similar to Glossier’s Generation G lipstick, it’s more sturdier and opaque.

Speaking of the shades, Flamingo is a beautiful terracotta-based tangerine that’s super flattering as it doesn’t make my teeth look outrageously yellow. As someone who loves orange lipstick, it’s my personal favorite as the muted red undertones remind me of a 1970s Playboy editorial.

Duality, a stunning mauvey violet, has smoky pink undertones that instantly remind me of the ’90s (i.e. Pamela Anderson’s purple bodysuit). When it’s worn on the lips, it looks a bit more pinkish than the tube, yet it’s still strikingly beautiful.

Last but not least, Peony is a stunning rosy pink color. It might look like any other pink you see at department stores, but deep down, it has has a violet red undertone that’s subtly bluish. If you have to go to the office and you want to rock a bold lip, this is the color to go to.

Since each color can stay on during drinks and meals, it fades subtly like any other lipstick. When I reapply it, bits of the color transfer on to the tube as there’s a lot of pigment; however, there’s zero patchiness. Anywhere than that, the lipsticks perform well.

Highlighter

Highlighters are one of the most essential products and I have to admit it, but the demand is incredibly oversaturating to the point where it’s hard for me to tell apart each shade.

But with Nirvana, it’s a ridiculously beautiful bronzy rose gold. What I like about it is that it’s neither too peachy, pink-ish nor yellow-based – zero gimmicks. I always wanted a highlighter like it and it truly delivers. Its creamy consistency that melts wonderfully on the skin, which makes it easier for me to apply with my fingers. While most brands like to use big batons with extremely little product (ahem, Fenty Beauty), this one is accurate to its sizing as there’s a LOT of product inside the mini-sized case. Given that most cream highlighters tend to pick up a bit of foundation on the surface, Trope’s Nirvana Illuminator doesn’t do that as it turns to powder.

I’m telling you, this highlighter DOES NOT PLAY!

(P.S. you can see it pop on all of my selfies!)

Nail Polish 

I’ve mixed up all shades for the sake of review, guys! But, it looks so nice together. 😉

OK, I am a sucker for nail polish and I’ve been painting my nails since I was 8. Growing up, I’ve always worn the super bold shades and I disliked anything sheer, nude or beige as I felt like it was “too naked” for me. If I have to pick a type of nail polish I’d wear on a repeating basis, it’ll be anything metallic.

Among all the colors there, the top three I’d pick are Dreaming 90, Dreaming 93 and Dreaming 87. Dreaming 87 (inspired by the founder’s oldest brother) is a pure metallic silver that instantly reminds me of the Olympic medal. I really can’t pass on it as silver nail polish lends a futuristic high fashion look to anything I wear.

Dreaming 90 (the number refers to the year her second older brother is born) is a glimmery gold that will instantly flatter anybody. As a great dupe of Chanel’s Gold Fiction, THIS is the shade that you need to buy as it’s the closest you can get to achieving the Chanel S/S 2008 runway look. (Although I myself personally owned Chanel’s Gold Fiction, I seriously regret throwing it away as I would’ve worn it despite the strong solvent-ish smell after not wearing it for an X amount of years! I know it’s bad to wear expired nail polish, but what can I say?!)

Dreaming 93 (inspired by her birth year) is the cherry on top of all nail polishes. It’s a rose gold/bronze hybrid with silver undertones. Frankly, that’s something I’ve never seen in any other nail polish. Not only will this match with anything, it’ll look good on EVERYONE! If you haven’t tried it, you abso-freaking-lutely NEED to add this to your cart stat!!

While the nail polishes were aesthetically pleasing, it stayed on after four days of applying it. There were no signs of chipping and a change in texture after I applied my Barry M matte topcoat. (FYI, it’s their recommendation!) As I applied it, the pigments coated my nails smoothly without any jerkiness. So, props to Trope for making good quality nail polish!

Verdict: If I have to pick out something from my beauty closet, I’ll happily stuff them in my Faure Le Page bag (that I wear for work, guys!) and wear it all day, every freakin’ day.

How to Wear Pigtails: a grown-up guide to wearing it like an adult

Growing up is more than just a pain in the back. It’s a stage where you feel like you aren’t ready to take adult responsibilities while being trapped in the body of a grown-up. You feel like your childhood went into the pace of a superzoom effect, but 15 times faster. That stage where you feel like channeling your inner child is what I call “kidulting”.

If you think that the trend to wear your childhood go-to staple is new, it’s really not. In fact, Bikini Kill rocker Kathleen Hanna wore it first. Not to forget, the Spice Girls, Lil Kim, Pamela Anderson and Britney Spears followed suit by matching pigtails with crop tops and whatnot. If you think I’m overlooking the entire trend, let’s thank Brigitte Bardot for actually starting the look by pairing her pigtails with eyeliner and a tight red sweater.

Now that Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner are rocking pigtails to the next level, must I say that it’ll be *the* new hair trend that will be happening this year?

As much as I am totally over Princess Leia double buns (sorry, Carrie Fisher!), here is my guide on how YOU can wear pigtails:

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Art Stage: An Experience to Remember

“Are you experienced?” asked Jimi Hendrix.

Indeed I am, Mr. Hendrix. Although his phrase only refers to his music, it applies to feeling the vibe of an artwork. From the texture of paint to the life-likeness of a sculpture, you cannot turn yourself away from an object that’s begging you for completely undivided attention. As an art history major, I can tell you for sure that each object you are seeing (whether it be at an art gallery to a museum) has its own perspective of being seen on stage. Hence, it explains why one of Singapore’s own version of Art Basel is called “Art Stage” (get it?).

Annually, Art Stage opens a 4-day show from Thursday to Sunday every late January. But on the first day, it’s only open to VIP members of Chubb, an insurance company that sponsors the exhibit. Not to forget, they get an exclusive showing of all the artwork before it’s open to public – for free. (FYI, I just had to join my mom just to see this show!) Since it’s the first month of the new year, what’s better than being able to treat yourself to an art show?

Given that it’s running for three days, you can pop in there for two hours as the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Center isn’t terribly big compared to other expo sites (e.g. Milan Food Expo). If you feel that brushing past a plethora of people at Art Stage is intimidating, don’t let yourself down. In fact, there is more that meets the eye.

When you first enter Art Stage, you can start out in any direction; however, I highly recommend that you start out at the center as it’s easy to walk around anywhere. While there are galleries from Tel Aviv to Seoul running the show with so many contemporary pieces, here are some hidden gems to look out for:

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The Coolest Beauty Trend You Need to Try for 2018

Sorry, Mia Wallace, Your signature vampy lip is done, done, done! Although I, myself, love a vampy lip color, the hue of dried blood isn’t as groundbreaking as it once was. The new shade that has everyone talking since March is your least favorite neutral: gray.

To me, gray is the type of color that screams “dull.” It often feels so basic to the core that I barely wear ANY gray on my body apart from silver jewelry or a sweatshirt that I lounge in. In fact, I don’t even know what to make of this muddled shade when I first saw Huda Kattan wear it on her Instagram.

Given that the year is coming to an end, you can close the chapter on 2017 by rocking this trend and wear it throughout the new year. Here are some ways how you can wear this color:

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Shanghai Surprise

2017 might be coming to a close, but let’s not freak out over 2018. As vacation plans are being booked up left and right for NYE, there is never a time when you can run out of ideas of cities to visit!

If there is one city you need to add to your 2018 travel bucket list, it’s Shanghai. This past November, American lingerie behemoth Victoria’s Secret launched their very first fashion show there. Every VS model and Instagram fashion blogger/influencer attended the show. Thanks to its cloud-grazing skyscrapers and KiraKira+-esque lights in the evening, the beauty of China’s internationally appealing coastal city cannot be ignored.

When I visited Shanghai last month, I couldn’t help myself. In fact, I felt like I NEEDED to Instagram every single street corner and space in the restaurants. As much as I hate to spill secrets, I’ll let the cat out of the bag on this one as I cannot wait to tell you my favorite hotspots!

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TLA by Morgan Stewart: The BEST activewear brand you need to stock up on

 

Let’s get real: Have you ever wanted to look this hot while you sweat?

I, like countless other girls like you, definitely did. Eight years ago, I always had to wear a baggy white tee and cotton navy blue shorts with my white Reeboks. It was P.E. class, where almost *nobody* pranced around the track field like the cast of Baywatch (the original TV show, not that Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron movie!) Safe to say, looking hot only looked better after a five minute shower and a freshly changed uniform.

Flash forward to today, there are less baggy tees and shorts than a pair of leggings and a closely-cropped sports bra. Thanks to the Hadid sisters and the Kar-Jenners for spurring this trend in activewear as everyday wear, the one brand that is pushing fitness gear to the next level is Touché LA.

Founded by Jaynee and Karl Singer, Touché LA partnered up with Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star/fashion blogger/Daily Pop co-host Morgan Stewart Fitzpatrick to create a seasonal collection. (Before you continue, check out my interview with her for Galore!) Upon looking at the entire spring/summer range, my jaw dropped to see that sports bras and leggings are meant to be paired together like a Chanel two-piece suit. Thirsting to try a set, I reached out to Touché LA to send me one.

The moment I tried it on, my eyes instantly went acidic. Wearing lemon yellow from head to toe, I thought that I would look bigger than a turkey. Instead, the ribbed waistband and panels on the leggings hugged my thighs to create a contour-like effect. Despite the thickness of the material, it was quite see-through at the back. (Disclaimer: I took countless photos of myself wearing it and it doesn’t show in any photographs!) But what I was truly worried about was my boobs.

As a 32DD, I constantly felt SO self-conscious as A) I was told not to show off my boobs and B) they are too big for anything. From one D cup sister to another, Morgan Stewart really understood the struggle of #bigboobproblems when designing this bra. Based on my previous experiences with sports bras, they’d usually loosen up after an X amount of washes, made me look like I had monoboob and/or not give me enough support (as the band is too loose at the bottom!). Here, the double-cross straps lifted them up and the fabric held on to me when I worked out.

When a sports bras and leggings set looked figure-flattering, would it actually stay in place? To answer this, I popped in a Popsugar video and did the entire workout for 30 minutes. During the workout, I felt moisture running down my back, legs and armpits. Since the leggings were high-waisted, the sauna-like atmosphere inside the fabric made my skin leak out sweat. Simultaneously, the waistband wrapped itself around my waist and hips like Spanx, leaving me to have a better ability to control my abs when I rolled up from the mat. The bra left my two bulbous balloons to stay in place – even as I did some side crunches. Unlike my VS bra, I didn’t need to make ANY awkward adjustments at all!

Although I personally didn’t wear much activewear outside the gym, I finally understood see why so many celebrities and influencers wore it. It was comfortable, slimming, looks great at every angle AND easy to mix with other pieces (e.g. a cropped baby tee and a handbag). Mrs. Fitzpatrick herself once told me that you are meant to rock it at the club with high heels. (I have yet to do this myself, but I’ll try it!) If casual Fridays can be everyday, I’ll happily pull it out from my closet without a care in the world.

P.S. This is me post-workout!

Touche LA x MS review

 

UPDATE: The set is sold out; however, you can get a similar set in tangerine at Touché LA’s website.

DISCLAIMER: This set was sent to me for review.