27 Things I learned at 27

Twenty-seven is a scary number. It’s that awkward stage when you’re not yet 30, but you’re still hanging on to the youth of your early 20s. It’s also that age when you’re trying to get yourself together. You either sink or swim.

While most of us dream of living life, there are sadly, a handful of icons who died far too young from the dark forces that consumed them whether it’s drug overdoses or freak accidents. While such unfortunate events are unintentional, The 27 Club is a one way trip without a return ticket. Joining the club is the last thing I ever want to do.

Though the siren call of living like Jim Morrison is a knock away, the flip side is that you can find stability and success. Or perhaps a renewed creative energy that leads you to produce your best work. While everyone of us finds directions either at this age, a little earlier or later, I feel that our journey is uniquely different from each other and that’s OK.

Standing in front of the crossroads isn’t easy, but being at 27, you don’t feel it until you are there. While my 28th birthday is a week away, I don’t ever want you to feel scared about the prospects of turning 27 because the fear of joining the Club is real.

Here are the top 27 things I’ve learned at 27:

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A Vibe, A Tribe: A Beginner’s Guide To Vibrators

Say hello to your (new) little friend. Small, but strong. Sweet, but sassy, this little bedroom toy is a safer alternative for skin to skin intimacy. (Except if you’re married or living with a partner) While sex ed curriculums teach us that pleasure comes from skin to skin contact, what’s nice about this toy is that it helps vulva owners feel less alone especially when we’re still in a pandemic and rolling out vaccines.

The first time I saw a vibrator, it was in Sex and the City, where Charlotte York spent a night in bed playing around with a dildo-like tool with a rabbit’s head. Being the curious 14-year-old that I was, I knew that it was awkward for teens like me to even watch SATC as it was “too mature”. Given that my mom had a DVD set of season 1 tucked neatly inside a drawer, I took it out and played it on a portable DVD player while hiding under the covers. I didn’t have a visual rekindling with vibrators until I saw a music video on the history of vibrators in 2016 and it blew my mind that there were many more kinds in existence.

While I passed around sex shops in Singapore and NYC, I never dared to step foot in one as the exteriors looked seedy. However, it wasn’t until I got some e-mail pitches about vibrators that made me realize that this little tool is not as scary or strange as it looks in TV shows. In fact, this little handy tool is safer than what you’d think given that sales have surged due to social distancing measures last year. And hey, at least you’re not getting COVID if you go near a vibrator nor will you get pregnant nor die. (*cough* Coach Carr *cough*)

Now that I can go out to a mall (with a mask on) and take a little trip to the drugstore, there was a row that made me pause. Rather than stopping by to admire the colors of every Revlon lipstick, what made me stop was seeing a shelf of vibrators. Much to my surprise, who knew that a place like Guardian can carry these little battery packs?

If you’re a seasoned vibrator user, you can skip this article altogether. But if you are someone who is new to vibrators, I’ve roped in Hong Kong-based sexologist/podcaster Sara Tang of SARA SENSE and Singapore-based Smile Makers‘s Brand Director Cécile Gasnault to spill the tea.

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How To Clean Out Your Closet For Cash (Safely)

Spark joy and sprinkle pixie dust as you are ready to manifest a whole new you. Though we have left off the chaos of January, February is where we need to realign our thinking for the better. In that case, it means letting go of questionable quarantine purchases, regrettable one-time use dresses you bought for Instagram and/or one too many Lulu Lemon leggings that you embarrassingly hoarded after you graduated college. The same goes for that one Bottega Pouch bag that you are desperate to sell after you realize that you can’t fit your iPhone inside. (#firstworldproblems!!) As you tap into your inner Marie Kondo, KonMari’ing your closet is one of the biggest decisions in life as you have to think hard about whether you will wear something again. If you’ve been struggling to make some cash, take this opportunity to get your hustle on. Even if you’re a novice to selling clothes for cash, being your own boss takes a lot of hard, but very useful lessons.

While it’s so easy to spend money, it’s hard to make your bank account prosper if you keep falling into traps and shortcuts. A seasoned seller since college, cashing in clothes for money gave me the satisfaction to able to treat myself to a decent sandwich from Mendocino Farms or a budget sushi meal at Sugarfish. From my early days of Facebook groups and eBay, I’ve graduated to The Real Real, Poshmark and Depop to make it rain. While I am only on Depop and Vestiaire Collective, I still consign to local luxury secondhand shops like Reebonz or The Fifth Collection in Singapore.

Though I am not at the level of Marie Kondo, I take every experience as a learning curve for myself. Here are my top tips and tricks to resell like a boss:

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An Honest Review of Bling Empire

Manses, abs, sneakers, Dior, jet black manes, private jets, Botox, caviar, diamonds, diamonds and TONS of diamonds! Imagine that in sunny LA and boom! As the love child between Crazy Rich Asians and The Real Housewives, Bling Empire is the real life version of the iconic Kevin Kwan novel. Except, Bling Empire centers on the lives of Asian Americans whereas the blockbuster movie and novel are about the lives of Asians in Asia. As an Asian who has lived across two continents, I feel over the moon that there is a show like this because very rarely do I see someone who looks like myself on TV – especially on a major global platform. Being the reality TV binge watcher that I am, I laugh, talk and drop one too many “OMGs” while watching the entire eight episodes.

Given that I have been in environments similar to the stars of Bling Empire, I find that the show borders between fiction and real life. Like oranges and apples, what people don’t realize is that Bling Empire is from an American perspective whereas Crazy Rich Asians is from an Asian perspective. As someone who’s lived across two different continents and cultures, here is an honest review:

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#HERSSENTIALS: The Backless Dress

Baby got back. Business at the front, but party at the back, the backless dress is the Gemini of apparel with its conservative, yet sensuous silhouette. As one of the hottest trends that’s been bubbling up in 2020, it’s bound to be one of the biggest trends this year.

Spotted on French actress Mireille Darc, the back-baring black dress was designed by Guy Laroche for Le Grand Blond avec Une Chaussure Noire. Barely skimming past the butt, the exposure of butt crack was shocking in spite of a modest exterior. Dipping low near the butt and cut across the shoulders, the spine-baring dress dared to emphasize the curves of a woman’s butt while making her waist smaller.

For someone who lives in an island where its fashion preferences leans towards conservative, it’s a struggle to contain my curves if I want to wear crop tops or body-hugging dresses as those things don’t get frowned upon on girls with A cups. Given that I have a small, yet pert butt, I have zero problems shopping for bottoms. But, having to go out without a bra is a hassle as I have to keep lifting my boobs up to make them look perkier as bigger breasts tend to drop. (Thank God for NuBra though – this keeps me feeling extra perky when I’m braless!) Apart from feeling self-conscious about going braless, bacne has been a major problem for me as the scars on my back made me feel insecure about going out in backless apparel. Since this trend meets my need for great coverage and for looking appropriate, I like that it’s made me feel secure about being able to go out with a NuBra. Perhaps what I need to work on is feeling less self-conscious to even try out this trend.

Another thing I noticed is that most fashion trends only cater to a secular and Westernized world where there’s no need to worry about covering up. Perhaps what I love most about this trend is that you can always have the option to layer up or grab a jacket when things get chilly!

If you wanna try this trend, here are my top 8 picks:

  1. Are You Am I Denz Dress – $150 USD

Founded by blogger turned designer Rumi Neely (a.k.a. Fashion Toast), her namesake brand has built a cult following among Instagram for its avant garde take on basics. As a fan of the brand, I LOVE how Neely takes her minimalistic aesthetic and throws in some sex appeal, yet makes it easy to pair with a handful of essentials in the closet. However, some of their designs are kinda extreme like this one shouldered glove dress or at risk of accidentally flashing people for anyone bigger than an A or AAA cup (*clears throat* this napkin-style top or side boob-baring tee). (Please don’t ever get me wrong, I truly admire the creativity of Ms. Neely and her team’s risk-taking execution to get wilder designs produced IRL!) Nevertheless, the whole point of buying an AYAI garment is to be photographed in it, post, then either wear it again or put it away until you swipe your credit card again for the next drop. Out of all the backless styles, the Denz is a great option if you want that sexy Kim Possible goes on a date night with Ron kinda feel. If you live in colder climes, it looks phenomenal with a leopard print coat and thigh high boots. If you happen to live in hotter climates, this cotton-blend dress will keep you cool when you style it with a denim jacket and loafers. For girls with bigger boobies, it’s best to size up to get more coverage.

2. Musier Robe Darc – €220

OMG. I don’t even know where to BEGIN! This is the exact dupe of the iconic backless dress named after the French bombshell. Though it is as equally racy as the original Guy Laroche design, Musier’s version has more coverage that stops just above the butt. Not to forget, this dress is on pre-order as it sells out really quickly. Their sizing is a little small, but the effect is chic! I highly recommend that for everyone.

3. Bec and Bridge Aubrey Midi Dress – $150 AUD

If Kate Moss’s iconic golden Marc Jacobs Met Gala dress had a baby with the vintage Dior Couture gown she wore (that eventually turned into a minidress because Courtney Love stepped on it), Bec + Bridge’s 30s inspired iteration is the next best thing you can get. Albeit more conservative than the previous two dresses, this classic golden silhouette is best worn to at weddings, birthdays or holiday parties. Keep it simple with pointy toe heels or square toe sandals.

4. Meshki Armelle Thong Dress – $103 AUD

A Gillian Anderson moment, but make it intentional with a built-in whale tail, this dress is going to cause heads to turn. Not for the shy, this dress is meant to be worn at home for socially distanced house parties or bday Zoom calls. Preferably not on family night. If you think that wearing floss strings at the side of your hips is crazy, then this little pink glittery dress defies expectations.

5. Saint Laurent Backless Dress – $1407 USD

Anthony Vaccarello never shies away from being daring. If anything, this dress is relatively tamer compared to some of the designs for the brand. (Hello, mono boob dress and column-inspired dress!) If you are the type who likes to be conservative, surprise everyone when you strut outta the house in this little number.

6. For Love and Lemons Verbena Dress – $135.26 SGD

Why, hello there backless little white dress! As the wholesome little sister to the backless LBD, this heavenly lace dress is so divine that it makes you look equally sinful. Cute for first dates and other family moments, but certainly not for Chinese New Year family gatherings! (ICYMI, white is a no-no to wear during CNY as it symbolizes death.)

7. Winona Destiny Mini Dress – $349.95 AUD

Ugh, Idk where to begin. The one shoulder to the backless detail is EVERYTHING I ever wanted in a dress. Deffo not something I’d wear in front of the parents, but at least it’s something I’ll happily pack with me on a staycation date with my BFF! If you want to be less scandalous, this dress will look great with a long-sleeved mesh nude bodysuit underneath.

8. Réalisation Par Jeet Dress – $210 USD

NGL, but I’ve been eyeing this dress for quite sometime. I think that it looks better on anyone who’s 5’5″ and above. This backless silhouette is RED HOT and I like how the fabric is ridiculously lightweight, especially for Singapore weather, where it’s hot and humid. If you are someone who can’t bare much skin due to religious reasons, it’s easy to layer it on top of a long-sleeved shirt or turtleneck!

How To Level Up Your Style

You’ve promised yourself to try something new every year. While thinking of it is great, actually doing it bears fear. You wonder if anyone will react. You wonder if you’ll regret it or even worse, wish that you could have done the risk. Some of you are born with it while some of you have to take the time to actually build it. Some of you are bound to play it safe. As told by Cady Heron, the limit does not exist.

Me being the Gemini that I am, the shapeshifter in me likes to break the boundaries of taste. It may not necessarily agree with yours, but that’s OK. I think that I’d rather take risks than to play it safe when it comes to my style. Over the years, I’ve learned that I am bound to keep what I like in the past, but merge that into my present. Or, I can change how I style things to fit my present self. Style is a gray area where you can merge your past and present selves; who you are now vs. who you want to be.

If you’re looking to level up your style and perfect it, here are the top tips I swear by:

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20 Things I learned in 2020

A year of vision and experience, there is no other year like 2020. Albeit it was shitty for most of us, it was a year of upheaval whether it was personal, mental, spiritual, etc. Not only did we physically have to contain ourselves inside four walls, we also felt the pandemic blues. Traveling, haircuts, trips to the cinema and concerts suddenly became luxuries at home to entertain ourselves when we got nothing to do besides work. Making questionable purchases on quarantine were things that could only give us relief whenever we needed a dose of laughter. Long walks to the park or around your neighbourhood were one of the only forms of relief when we’re bored of busting our butts off on YouTube workouts in our living rooms. Being unable to take a dip in the pool almost made me stir crazy. Maskne was hell for our skin. Our hair also suffered horrible grow outs as we couldn’t have access to a hairstylist for months. Some of you had no choice but to grab a buzzer, scissors or get a mullet out of boredom. Box dye was also optional, too.

While most of us have been leading busy lives, we also kept hanging on for every kind of connection on our phones whether it’s connecting with long distance old friends, cousins whom you haven’t spoken to in a year or swiping right on dating apps. Zoom’s the new hangout spot whether it’s platonically or romantically. Most of us had to sacrifice going out for our birthdays, which absolutely stank. We either had to do a birthday Zoom call or invite one or two friends over to our houses. But also, people from your past who suddenly popped out of thin air appeared on our WhatsApps, DMs or Facebooks. We were all trying our best to stay connected even though working from home zapped our energy.

Strangely, this year also brought us to start a business or do something creative that you’ve never done before. Taking risks were things we never considered in the past, yet it shaped our minds for the better. You also took a big leap for your mental health by deciding to do what you didn’t wanna do previously: get help. Sure, it was intimidating because some of you find it embarrassing to admit your struggles to your closest friends because you want them to think that you’re OK when your world fell apart. What you also learned was that it was OK to not be OK.

Although most of us spent our time at home, some of you went out to the streets to protest against racism at BLM protests from Los Angeles, Sydney and the UK. Being an advocate is sexy and I love that. While social justice is a cause I support, I also feel that some of you (myself included) have also decided to dedicate our time with helping out those who don’t have access to resources within our own back yard. Apart from protests and volunteering for charity, some of you have prayed for your loved ones and strangers who’ve suffered from COVID.

No matter how much you wanted to hate 2020, it was THE year that told us to level up inside out. We were not prepared to be stuck inside our homes or deal with a pandemic, but the one thing that we were being called to do was to look IN and see what WE could change about ourselves. (Myself included.)

Here are the top 20 things I learned in 2020:

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Cute Sustainable Gifts For Xmas

Staying in is the new going out and all the small things are suddenly becoming the new essentials. From toilet paper to face masks, it seems that big bags aren’t entirely necessary unless it’s for the most important grocery runs.

Thankfully, some of us are living in countries where we are lucky to go out. But for the rest of us, it’s unfortunate how y’all have to go through another series of lockdowns. Not letting Miss Rona steal our shine this December, there’s always a way how we can treat ourselves and our loved ones for the holidays. With practicality and sustainability being the new chic, I found some cute gifts that your friends or family will appreciate!

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How To Fix Your Post-Black Friday Mistakes: 10 Savvy Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

Black Friday shopping is Spring Break for your wallet. Overflowing like bubbles on a glass of beer, discounts are cherry on top. Sweet, yet tempting, a sale is the apple of the Original Sin, leaving you hungry for more. Although it’s great to treat yourself, I hate to admit that I’ve made a lot of mistakes with caving into my temptations.

Although I am no Econ major, it doesn’t need to require a degree to figure out where you and I are spending our money. As much as we want to have picture perfect Insta lives with equally photogenic clothes that we wear once every OOTD, greed makes us feel guilty and cynical for not feeling like we have enough. I already have enough, but I am ashamed to admit that I have days when I don’t feel like I have “enough” just because I want to score more likes on my feed, which is the most selfish desire that I need to let go. However, I love to go on sales because I use Black Friday as an excuse to pig out.

Even though capitalism is the flesh and blood of the majority of the world’s economy, we, too, also sustain on it for our incomes and thrive on it to support the economy. Now that most of us can’t travel thanks to Miss Rona, it’s inevitable that we have to spend our hard earned cash on things. While it’s so easy to treat this as an all or nothing issue, let’s redirect our energy on building a healthier relationship with your bank account by trying these post-Black Friday tips!

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Real Girls Talk: Wine 101 with Janisaa Pradja

Got a bad case of Black Friday anxiety? Pour a glass. Ready to celebrate that job promotion over turkey, pumpkin pie and stuffing? Break out the bubble. Dying to catch up with your long distance friends on Zoom? Raid your fridge.

Nothing else screams “holiday mood” more than a glass of wine. As a wino, I always like to wind down with a glass of moscato after dinner or whenever I’m Netflixing to Emily in Paris or any comedy, I like to sit down with a glass of red wine. Sometimes, I drink white wine if I don’t feel like having a strong glass of red. Recently, I like to have a small shot glass of bokbunjae (Korean wine) to awaken the creative spirit. Though I’ve tried different kinds of booze (from sake to which also includes arak, a moonshine-type drink from the Middle East), I always head back to wine.

Given that it’s something that I newly appreciate, I hit up Janisaa Pradja, a Bali-based sommelier who’s a friend of mine, to talk about wine. At 25, she’s already got a WSET tucked deep inside her cellar and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Enology (wine studies ICYMI). (I mean, wouldn’t we all KILL to walk out of school with that kinda degree and jump start on our dream job?) Through e-mail, both of us chit chatted about cooking with wine, the art of alcohol appreciation, the science behind the price behind the world’s most expensive vino and why pricier bottles don’t always equate to being better than cheap wines.

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