Man Crush Monday: Han Chandra

Model, blogger, influencer, children’s book author, graphic designer and painter. Is there anything that Han Chandra can’t do? As an all-around Renaissance man and kid at heart, this Jakarta-based hottie is also blessed with super fly style, chiseled cheekbones and flawless skin. While every man on earth can win us over with lush locks and a charming smile, the one thing that made us swoon over him is his compassionate soul as he is devoted to spending time with kids.

With an army of 26,000 followers on Instagram, the 27-year-old single bachelor is not just another rising social media celebrity. In place of notches on his bedpost, he’s got multiple diplomas under his belt. (Beat that, James Franco!) On top of his stellar academic career, this pretty Pisces writes on his self-titled blog. Not to forget, he’ll sneak in some Whitney Houston songs on your Spotify, serenade you with a Michael Jackson hit and take you along to a Bruno Mars concert.

For our very first debut of Man Crush Monday, Chandra and I chat via WhatsApp about the secret to getting crystal clear skin, his next children’s book and why women shouldn’t be afraid to make the first move.

Continue reading “Man Crush Monday: Han Chandra”

A Letter From Your Girl

Dear Varinaders,

Happy New Year! I can’t believe that it has been two years since I launched Lapis and Layers. While the whole purpose of my blog is to discuss about fashion and beauty, I realize that I can’t sit there and distract you with so many stories about myself because as an influencer, how can I influence you if every single product or fashion tip only works for people who are like myself?

Apart from it, I’ve been beginning to realize that a lot of us are attuned to social media. Since I know that so many of us are Intsa-savvy, we are voyeurs who enjoy catching up with our favorite people whether it’s a model, celebrity, athlete, musician, photographer, influencer, makeup artist or friend. Not to forget, while there are a LOT of Insta-famous people I adore, I realize that not many of them are being covered unless they’re associated with a Kardashian, Jenner, Hadid, Jonas or anyone with a high-profile last name.

Although I love reading about celebrities and following them on Instagram, I feel that what’s missing these days is stories of real people who are using social media to build their career and/or platform to unite communities through a common interest. Since their hobbies/passions have always left us feeling curious, I feel that it’s about time that they share their story with me. No matter how big or small the following is, I aim to strip away the zeros, the glamour behind each shot and build up the story behind each personality whether it’s a model, influencer, designer, photographer, etc.

Not only am I keen to interview super inspirational people, I also realize that we, as humans, have a LOT to discuss about as our generation has gone through so many social and cultural shifts for nearly a decade. Rather than letting myself comment on these things (e.g. dressing up for the ‘gram), I have to invite more than one voice as it’s more fun to read roundtable discussion-style articles (like Real Men Talk) as it’s more engaging!

As I am still experimenting with creating content for you, I am shocked that so many of you really love reading my interviews and roundtable-style stories. Seeing your support means the world to me as I had thoughts where I almost wanted to quit journalism.

All of you made me more aware that at 25, I have the power to use my platform to educate ourselves and raise awareness about the effect on how social media plays with our perception of image, choice of career and the way we live our life.

Another thing that I’m adding to Lapis and Layers is a brand new column called Man Crush Monday, where I feature a new man every other Monday per month. Instead of a simple write up, I interview men about their career, hobbies and most importantly, dating tips. However, the main aspect of my MCM column is that it’s rooted by the effect of #MeToo as I read interviews of male celebrities who openly admit to being scared of flirting with women or worse, say tone deaf things about being challenged by it. Also, I admit that it’s partly inspired by my own personal experiences of using dating apps and living a commitment-free single life! As someone who supports #MeToo and using dating apps, I aim to use my blog as a safe and positive space for men to talk freely without fear, take down taboos surrounding dating/sexuality, share their stories about what motivates them and ask them fun questions that women normally get asked about (e.g. beauty, fitness routines, diet, fashion). Given that this will be an eye-opening experience and a new territory I’m willing to explore, I hope that you will learn something from each man.

Cheers to a new chapter, a beautiful month and unwavering support!

xoxo

M

Real Girls Talk: How To Slay NYE Party Dressing With @velvetcoke

We love a good party dress; however, it’s so easy to run out of ideas on what to wear. Especially on New Year’s Eve, where it’s hard to think of something to wear. Given that most of us are in a 9 to 5 lifestyle, I still can’t let go of the thought that we only wear 20 percent of our closet!

As a fellow clotheshorse, our returning guest Velvet Coke just happens to be in love with fashion as much as I am! Rather than giving all of you some conventional advice, I felt that it was time to get the lowdown on party dressing.

Velvet Coke and I discuss about how to make your work outfit more party-friendly, the one color you should mix with metallics, the most iconic fashion moment to repeat for NYE, the power of accessorizing and why you should ditch your flats for Dr. Martens.

Continue reading “Real Girls Talk: How To Slay NYE Party Dressing With @velvetcoke”

How To Match A Bra With Your Top

Letting a bra to peek under your top is easy in theory, but hard to apply in practice. While it looks hot on Instagram and glossy pages, trying to let a bra peek out in a public space can elicit more than just long glances.

Before you say that this trend can only work on the itty bitty titty committee, I am not here to let *you* shy away from trying out fun and flirty fashion trends! As a fellow DD daredevil, I won’t let anything come in the way between me and my boobs. Since it’s one of the trickiest trends to play out in public, wearing a bra with your top (or as an alternative to a T-shirt) can be done in a sexy, yet tasteful way.

If this is your first time experimenting with it, here are some ways on how you can match your bra with your top:

  1. Long sleeve button-down with a lace bra

Lace bras are my kryptonite and I have to admit that I hide it more than I show it. Feminine and ultra sensuous, a lace bra can add a dose of sex appeal, especially when worn with a men’s button down shirt. If you have a button down shirt, you can loosen up the buttons after office hours to reveal your bra. If you don’t feel comfortable showing too much skin, a longline bra is the way to go.

Savage x Fenty Curve Metallic Lace Balconette Bra, $103 SGD

2. Plunging neckline and a bralette

Dressing up like it’s J.Lo at the 2000 Grammys is still a risk worth trying. While Jenny from the Block prefers to let it all hang out, you can keep the girls inside with a bralette! No matter the color or print, a bralette will always shine with your outfit.

P.S. This look is super wearable for all bra sizes!

3. Metallic top and a statement bra

Statement bras are fun, but a pain in the ass to think about what to wear it with. Whether it’s an animal print, sequin or a vinyl bra, the statement bra deserves to be seen, not hidden! Instead of wearing it with neutrals, amplify your bra with a metallic shirt. Trust me, this will be a POPPIN’ look!

NOTE: If you’ve got a jacket that can double as a top, it will look wonderful at holiday parties, too.

4. Lace top with a matching bra

A sheer lace top and a nude bra has been overdone to death. Tell me, who wants to look completely naked underneath a sheer top?! Throw in a bit of modesty with an opaque bra in a color that matches your lace top.

If the bra itself has some lace, it makes the top look like it’s been built in with a bra!

5. Open shirt with a lace up/halter bra (or bikini top)

Ooh…la…la…this is honestly, my favorite trick in the book as you can literally get all eyes on you here. Given that halter/lace up bras are all about emphasizing your shoulders, and neck, it balances out an open shirt. Regardless if it’s a crisp button-down white shirt or a Hawaiian shirt, a masculine vibe levels up the entire look.

While I, myself, don’t have too many halter/lace up bras, I use a bikini top as my bra!

P.S. If you live in colder climates and still wanna look hot (while being covered in layers), a deep V-neck sweater will be a great substitute for an open shirt!

Victoria’s Secret Lace-up Bra Top, $26.46 SGD
Anine Bing Lace soft cup triangle bra, $41 USD

6. Off-the-shoulder top with statement straps/trims

Remember that time when we saw Regina George get hit by a bus? Yup. She was wearing a black off-the-shoulder top with a teal bra. While you don’t have to be a mean girl to look hot, you can serve MEAN looks by simply copying her outfit! From under your boob to the top of your waist, you can experiment with all different kinds of bras with your top.

If your top’s hemline ends under your bust, let the lace trim peek out underneath. But if your top ends at the waist, go for a bra with statement straps whether it’s crystallized, covered in lace or embellished with logos!

Tommy Hilfiger Microfiber Bralette, $47.95 USD

7. T-shirt with a see-through (or chainmail) bra

Not a big fan of hiding your completely sheer bras? Try it on top of a plain white tee! As your canvas to ANY look, white works with any crazy design or pattern. Just keep the rest of your outfit simple.

Lonely Lingerie Bonnie Softcup Bra, $66.43 USD

8. Denim jacket with a sports bra (or sports bra-like top)

To all my girls living in the tropics, I got you covered. If you’re feeling a little cold after a long day at the beach, a denim jacket is a must MUST! Not only do I swear by it (for almost everything), it gives your outfit a street-appropriate edge. In place of a bikini top, flaunt your sports bra to set thirst traps at the bar!

Vita LA Nirvana Sports Bra, $38 USD
Ryderwear Seamless Sports Bra, $39.95 USD

Real Girls Talk: Can We Still Look Sexy While It’s Cold Outside?

Don’t be fooled by Instagram. Dressing up for cold weather is not as fun as it looks! No matter how low the temps drop, always finding something to wear can often be a challenge as all of us tend to wear the same thing at least three times a day. Although I’m a fan of re-wearing my clothes (yay for sustainability points), I am NOT a fan of having to be stuck in an outfit rut. (Side note: why can’t I dress like Bella Hadid in cold temps?!) 

Since I’m still struggling with how to dress for cold temps, I’ve decided to link up with my girl Ashley Uzer, who is also a fellow blogger of Lox and Leather/freelance writer for Bustle and Galore. Based in Washington DC, she is here to answer all your questions about cold weather dressing. As my go-to muse for all things fashun, she can pull off skimpy clothing in ridiculously cold weather. (Seriously, IDK what in the world is laced in that East Coast water that makes everyone impervious to cold temps!) On top of her killer sense of style, buckle up for her Scorpionic candidness. (Yes, she’s a Scorpio!) 

Before we continue, Ashley and I discuss about wearing crop tops in the winter, styling faux fur coats, dressing up for holiday parties and why we should ditch our bras for pasties.

How do you define sexy? 

Ashley: I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that being sexy is showing the most amount of skin as possible — and I’ve definitely fallen into that trap sometimes, especially with how risqué fashion has gotten lately (which has only made me less scared to wear the outfits I’ve been wanting to wear all my life). But at the end of the day, being sexy is all about being confident. While I might feel the most confident in a lace bodysuit and spandex shorts, you might feel your most confident in a midi black turtleneck dress (black turtlenecks are fucking sexy). I actually feel less confident when my body is more covered up, but I know lots of girls come up to me and say stuff like, “OMG, I love your outfit, but I could never pull that off.” But pulling it off is all about confidence — If you believe you can pull it off, then you can pull it off. And that’s sexy. 

These days, I’ve realized that now, everyone doesn’t wanna be covered in layers anymore. Instead, they’d rather look warm, but not actually be warm all thanks to celebrities/models posting paparazzi photos of them wearing miniskirts and shorts, plus no jacket. What do you think about that? 

A: I take lots of issue with celebrity fashion/paparazzi style photos because celebrities don’t have to worry about practicality. They can spend all day in 6-inch stilettos, or wear an adorable layered fur coat look in the summer, because they’re in private cars for half the day and hardly have to be outside (or walking) if they don’t want to. Thanks to Instagram, this phenomenon has been replicated by models/influencers who style a look just to take pictures in their bedroom. Of course, I’m not hating on influencers, and even I’ve done this before. The other week I had to take sponsored photos in a gown, and I had nowhere to wear a gown, so I just got all dressed up and took some photos in my hotel room before changing into my normal clothes and heading to dinner. That being said, the majority of my photos on Instagram and on my blog are in outfits I actually wear out of the house, to run errands, to hang with friends, etc. I’m sad to admit that I’ve gotten much more practical with age. I wear heels less, I layer up more, etc. But, I’ve really grown to love walking around for hours and spending more time outside, and sometimes a pair of assess chaps and stiletto heels are not cut out for that. 

What are some essentials that can still look sexy, but cozy?

A: I love a good pair of leather leggings. Also, just got these really cute fuzzy sweaters from H&M that are form-fitting, but cozy AF.

Ooh yes! You absolutely cannot go wrong with leather leggings and fuzzy sweaters. Even though crop tops are tricky to work with cold weather, how would you style it for temperatures that are lower than zero degrees Celsius/32 degrees Fahrenheit?

A: I still totally wear crop tops in the winter! I just add an extra lightweight layer under my coat – like a blazer or a sweater, to keep my tummy warm.

That’s a very smart layering trick! One of my friends taught me this hack when we lived in NYC. I have to admit that I’m not that brave to wear a crop top in the winter as I get cold easily! Haha! Anywhere than that, I’ll be sticking to my trusty ol’ turtleneck. Speaking of wearing a turtleneck, how can we make it look slutty (but still make it chic and parent-friendly)?

A: I get cold easily, too. I’ve gotten less daring these days. I think turtlenecks are actually one of the sexiest items! As long as it’s form-fitting. My trusty turtleneck is actually a size 7 kids from the Nordstrom children’s department…lol! But, it’s black and stretchy and the perfect length so that there’s a peek of skin when I wear it with low rise jeans.

In the winter, I think it can look sexy with the right pair of tight jeans or a cute miniskirt with tights or OTK boots. Of course, a push up bra underneath also pumps up the sexy factor and gives you serious curves.

Ooh yes!! Can’t agree more! How about sheer turtleneck bodysuits? Do you think that it’s equally practical as an opaque turtleneck during cold weather?

A: I have a sheer turtleneck bodysuit and I love it, but it’s definitely not as practical as an opaque turtleneck. You can definitely rock it, but I’d say more for an event where you ‘ll just be in and out of the car and mostly inside, or with an extra jacket underneath your coat like with the crop situation!

Amen! I guess that after all, it doesn’t hurt to channel a Hadid sister.

A: I’m obsessed with Bella Hadid’s style! I don’t really have any celebs I watch too much but every time I see a pic of her, she is slaying!

I had to admit that while her look can be a bit basic at times, she really does have great outfits! Especially for thotty winterwear!

A: Yes! Her stylist [Mimi Cuttrell] is pretty great whoever she may be.

Speaking of fur, I know that it’s so controversial; however, there’s no perfect excuse than winter to pull out vintage fur or factory fresh faux fur. Since it’s so bulky (in general), how can we style it without looking like a grandma?

A: The only thing I like about winter style is this great leopard print faux fur coat I got from Century 21 a few years ago (it’s made by Calvin Klein). I feel like it honestly looks amazing with everything, but partly because it’s meant to be worn open so you can always see my cute outfit underneath. I think another fun way if you have a vintage stole or something is to rock it with some leather. That way, you get a nice mix of textures and some edge with a more “grandma-ish” piece. Although, like I said, it’s hard to feel grandma-ish if you’re rocking a faux fur in a wild print or color! So many fast fashion chains now have affordable faux furs in neon colors!

Like you, I am ALL for color. I hate the thought of wearing neutrals for winter. Since faux fur is considered a more sustainable options, what are your thoughts on vegan leather?

A: Same! And I love vegan leather. Not only is it way more affordable, it actually usually fits better because there’s stretch incorporated into the fabric better. It is funny that it’s been “rebranded” as vegan leather vs. pleather, but there have definitely been some upgrades. Blank NYC does some great vegan leather pants! I’m thinking of asking for another pair for Christmas.

Do it! I do have to admit that vegan leather can do some wonders. But, how about vinyl?

A: Vinyl is definitely another fabric that makes me hate winter a little less, because if I wear anything vinyl in the summer, I’ll feel like a sweaty sausage. I got an amazing vinyl long pencil skirt from Oh Polly last year. They have a lot of great, sexy vinyl items – including pants so that you can stay warm! Just keep in mind that vinyl is never going to be super comfortable or stretchy, and you may want to size up because there’s little stretch.

That’s so true though! It’s crazy how it can keep you warm and hey, at least it keeps you looking sexy, too!

A: Yeah! I’m glad you brought that up because it really comes in clutch. Just because of my lifestyle, I don’t usually wear it much on a day to day basis – more for evening events.

I wish I wore my Bebe Aguirre PVC pants more; they’re the best as they hold my legs in while sculpting them. (I call them the Avenger pants!) It’s hella practical as vinyl keeps rain away.

A: Jealous! I always wear my PVC boots in the rain hehe. The vinyl pants I have aren’t great quality and I’m always scared they’re going to split open so, I save them for special occasions lol.

I feel you! I hate how most vinyl options out there tend to peel so easily. That’s why I like things custom made.

A: Yeah, exactly! I wish I had the budget for that!

True! However, we’re blessed with good, affordable vintage apparel. For anyone who isn’t familiar with shopping secondhand, what’s the top winter-friendly piece that you recommend first timers to purchase?

A: True! Hmm, I actually love buying sweaters secondhand because you save a lot of $. I don’t particularly love sweaters because I find that I get too hot in them and I’d prefer to layer, but I head to resale stores like Buffalo Exchange to pick up a few sweaters for those times where you really need to bundle up (or dress appropriately). You can also find some great leather jackets secondhand, although I’ve never purchased one myself.

If we have to wear plunging necklines (whether it’s a dress, top or sweater) in the winter, what styles of bras do you recommend? 

A: Personally, I don’t wear a bra 99% of the time — although when I do, it’s in the winter for an added layer between my body and the outside air! If you’re not comfortable going bra free, ask yourself why. Is it because you don’t want your nipples poking out? Or because you want a little more support for your girls? If it’s the former, I would recommend buying some cute pasties. Bristols 6 has some really fun ones that will make you feel like you’re wearing sexy lingerie under your outfit — and maybe you’ll even give your partner a surprise at the end of the night. They also have classic skin tone ones if you want to keep it simple. If you want support, you could try sticky boobs or even the Kim K duct tape trick. Like I said, I haven’t tried these myself, but seems cheaper and more efficient than one of those “plunging” style bras.

I’ve come to realize that everyone still wants to show some skin at holiday parties, especially for New Year’s Eve. Since the Paris Hilton chainmail dress is all the rage at holiday parties, I realize that not many of us actually have the balls to go nearly naked underneath a dress. If we have to walk outside, but still stay cool inside, what should we wear underneath the dress? 

A: Not only is it about having the balls (or the tits?) — but being naked under chainmail is really cold on your skin! I think save the dress for the summer and opt for a chainmail top — like this one — with a cool pair of party pants (I’m envisioning a jewel-toned pair of velvet flares). For a night-out look, a pair of PVC pants will definitely keep you feeling warm and looking hot. Of course, if you really want to rock the dress, I think it’s not about what you wear under, but what you wear over — a big fur coat will look cool and keep you warm.  

Last but not least, everyone can’t say no to a good pair of thigh high boots. Since lampshading has been done to death, are there some other cool alternatives to style our thigh high boots? 

A: I love that you used the term lamp-shading! I don’t think I’ve actually heard that before (but of course I figured what it was from the context). I think thigh-high boots look great with a pair of tight pants, plus it’s way warmer than keeping your thighs exposed. You can also totally wear form-fitting thigh high boots underneath a pair of wide-leg pants for an added layer of warmth — even if nobody else will know. Lastly, for the right occasion, a pair of thigh-high boots with a pair of short-shorts can be really playful and sexy! Here’s an example of how I rocked some thigh-high boots with a pair of Bad Vibes band-tee shorts. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart — but with the right mindset you can totally pull it off!

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Urban Cowgirl 2.0: How To Wear Cowboy Boots

You heard it first, y’all! Cowgirl dressing is ALL the rage this year. Since 2017, I always knew that dressing up like a cowgirl is going to be coming in HOT since Miley, Beyoncé and Gaga wore cowboy hats, boots and prairie dresses. As much as we wanna throw on our vintage Gunne Sax dresses, it’s not as practical as say, a pair of cowboy boots!

In fact, cowboy boots were a thing since the ’80s. (Just ask Axl and every other boy in Sunset Strip!) Although they weren’t that popular in the ’90s, it became hot again in Y2K all thanks to the likes of Miley Cyrus, Mary-Kate Olsen (who wore a pair of vintage Roy Rogers bootsBritney Spears and Rihanna.

Now that we are in an era where Air Maxes are king, a pair of cowboy boots is bound to shake up our closets again. Offering a breath of fresh air, a single pair of cowboy boots can either make or break your outfit. While you can ditch the cardigan at LAX (or wherever you’re at), all you need is just a dream to cook up some ultra hot OOTD ideas!

If this is your first time wearing trying out this trend, don’t shy away from it! Here are some less intimidating ways on how you can wear it IRL:

Continue reading “Urban Cowgirl 2.0: How To Wear Cowboy Boots”

Be Bad and Bougee with Winky Lux: Is the App’s Favorite Cult Brand Worth The Hype?

What looks hot on IG may not always live up to the hype IRL, but if there’s one beauty brand who is truly killing it, it’s Winky Lux.

Based in NYC, Winky Lux made a claim to fame with its insatiable matcha balms, which are stored inside a pill capsule-like casing. Not to forget, its colorful graphics and kitschy cute aesthetic is also its claim to collecting more than 200,000+ followers on IG.

Although I can’t get my hands on it at a local beauty store anywhere in Southeast Asia, thankfully, Winky Lux’s PR team sent me an array of products to pamper myself. (Never have I ever felt *this* excited to add ’em into my fall beauty haul!)

Underneath all the cute packaging and presentable products, is the hype surrounding everyone’s favorite cult brand worth it?

  1. Winky Lux Kitten Eyeshadow Palette

Ooh la la…Where can I begin? Blessed with nine shades of matte, holographic and shimmer finishes, I am over the moon with its diversity. Intended to create a sexy, smoky eye, this is no typical gray-based palette. Instead, you’ll get a nude-base mauve pink (Breading), dusty rose (Penelope), holographic pinkish white (Holographic Biscuits), frosty silver-based pale purple (Meow Down), purple-gray taupe (Caturday), camel brown (Grumpy), gilded dark brown (Frisky) and copper (Instafamous) eyeshadows. While it looked intimidating to begin with, each shade is easy to blend as it delivers opacity on each layer. Not to forget, each color blends beautifully with or without the aid of a brush. Much to my surprise, it stayed on really long (with minimal creasing from my oily eyelids)!

I used Breading as a base and did an ombré effect with the rest of the colors on top of it. Holographic Biscuits looks beautiful as a stunning inner corner highlighter. Just do a gradiated ombré with the last 3 brown shades of the palette!

Anywhere than that, the pigment powder tends to get everywhere if you use a brush. Priced at $25 USD, you’ll get a bang for your buck with all nine shades, baby! (*Dr. Evil laugh*)

See how much I used up? You know it’s THIS good when you see some dents inside the palette.

2. Winky Lux So Extra Mascara

Like any other mascara, it’s rich in pigment. However, this mascara neither clumps easily nor does it feel sticky. Instead, the formula feels airy as a mousse. If you are expecting mega volume, it actually gives subtle volume with each coat. But anywhere than that, it doesn’t run down to your lashes and lower lids at the end of the day due to its beeswax and olive oil-based formula. Trust me, THIS is the best under $30 USD mascara that you must splurge on!

3. Winky Lux Mini Lipstick Kit Set of 5

Honey, I shrank the lipstick! Built to be the half the size of your pinky, you have the freedom to switch between two shades of nubile nudes (Pippy; Meow), a ravishing red (Poppy), plus two shades of punchy purples (Royal; City).

Top: City; Middle: Pippy and Meow; Bottom: Poppy and Royal

Delivering a lotta color in one go, each shade is very durable as it can last at least four hours without the need to reapply. But if I have to pick the best 3, Pippy, Meow and Poppy perform the best as they are easiest to apply. On the other hand, City was the toughest to apply as the color was uneven during application.

In terms of the design, the pill case doesn’t look practical (apart from the aesthetic), but much to my amusement, it’s really easy to hold it. Plus, it wins a lotta points in the practicality department as you can sneak ’em inside your clutch!

If you don’t know what to give to your friend for Xmas, this is the best stocking stuffer.

4. Winky Lux Glimmer pH Balm in Rosé

Like the matcha lip balm, this one comes with a whole lotta shimmer in one tube with subtle microfine rose gold glitter. Despite not being able to see the glitter, the pigmented (slightly shiny) neon pink finish from the balm gives the appearance of instant vitality as the formula adjusts to the pH of your lips. (Y’all can’t unsee my pic below, FYI!) Since I used to own a tube of Dior’s Lip Glow, Winky Lux’s balm gives the EXACT same color, moisture and sheen. If you can’t be bothered to spend more than $20 USD, you should go for this fantastic dupe.

P.S. This is also a GREAT base to customize your ideal MLBB shade, too!