27 Things I’ve Learned As I turn 27

The first quarter of 2020 felt like whirlwind and as we’re all entering in the last month of the second quarter, I also realize that at this point, I’m about to enter another year around the sun at 27. While it’s the most dreaded number of your twenties thanks to the 27 Club, I have to accept that this is the reality that I’m about to walk in. Not only do I feel that this is where I have to face crucial decisions in my life due to the return of Saturn, I am at a point where I have never felt more comforted with working on building my sense of self worth and bettering myself.

Inspired by Taylor Swift’s “30 Things” for Elle, here are the top 27 things I’ve learned:

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Real Girls Talk: Sustainable Organization With Beauty Pantry

Staying in has never felt sexier. As someone who loves to go out, the mere thought of having to lock myself at home scared the hell out of me when I first found out about the circuit breaker on April 7th. However, I’ve came to accept that after all, having to stay at home means making the most out of things I never really paid much attention to such as organizing. Given that frequent sales – especially on beauty products – are happening so often, it means having to struggle with organization, which is a weak point for myself.

I decided to get in touch with the girl bosses behind Beauty Pantry, Kimberly Ong, a digital writer, and Sarah Bennett, a design engineer. Ong and I were previously co-interns at Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore two years ago. Since we bonded over our love of being green and beauty products, I have seen her passions blossom into an educational Instagram account/shop, Beauty Pantry, which used to be Beauty Uncovered. While Beauty Uncovered schooled us on the effects of consuming mica to harmful ingredients like SLS, Beauty Pantry is a marketplace where you can shop for unused to lightly used beauty products.

Though sustainable consumption and education are still a priority for the BP team, I decided to check in with Ong and Bennett to talk about organizing beauty products, what clean beauty products to start with, which ingredients to stay away from and solutions to fixing face mask acne.

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Unlearning Toxic Femininity

Being stuck at home sounds like the worst thing to ever happen to anyone who’s been living in the developed world and the thought of going stir crazy is always just a minute away. However, the silver lining of being in quarantine – whether you’re alone or with family members – is being able to have some alone time and reflect when when you truly need to disconnect from your phone, laptop and TV.

Though staying connected is an important aspect for me, I’ve been chipping out my time to binge watch dating reality TV shows on Netflix, namely Love Is Blind and Too Hot To Handle. As someone who is all about wellness, compassion, speaking up and creating a new space for us (via this blog) to share about having to battle gendered issues, I realized that there is SO much about myself I needed to unlearn.

Since young, I was conditioned (via movies and TV shows) to subscribe to this image of a girl who needs to change herself for a man. On top of movies and TV shows, the fashion magazines that I admired growing up always told me to dress for a guy. Not only was I conditioned to change my personality and dress sense for a guy, I was being advised to act too hard to get if I had to date a crush. From peers to adults, that was the most useless advice I was ever given because trying to play that part ultimately failed me in landing proper dates outside of the Bumble, Hinge and Tinder convo.

However, the flip side was actually trying to control the guy. In this case, it meant either playing with his feelings (either if you’re dating or played hard to get to pretend to be interested in him) or trying to change him. Thankfully, I am not like that as I believe in honesty and value one’s right to exercise their freedom; however, I saw this get revealed in Too Hot To Handle when one of the girls admitted to being called “controlling” all because she wanted to change the guy. Sadly, this behavior was and still is all too common, especially when I’ve heard it from male friends who told me that the girls they dealt with were like this.

Though the trend of ending toxic masculinity has been spreading like wildfire on social media (which I am very happy for), I feel that toxic femininity has been underrepresented on social media. Inspired by David Birtwistle’s TikTok video on “How To Get The Girl”, I decided to play my own spin on “How To Get The Guy”.

Looking at this now, I’m nearly approaching my Saturn Return, which makes me become more reflective into taking account of what I can do to change myself and unlearn dangerous patterns of toxic femininity before I can date again. Since this is still a process of discovery for me, I have not yet fully figured out what I can do to unlearn as approaching 27 in a month still sounds scary. Relearning healthier dating habits are things I have yet to fully acquire, but I hope that this 15 second video and post can be an inspiration for you to learn how you can be better humans once you return to the post-corona dating world.

@thekimbino: How A Teacher Became Fashion’s Most Unlikeliest Insider To All Things Kardashian

Every fashion insider has something to back up their cred whether it’s a stylist, makeup artist, hairstylist, photographer, designer or anyone who’s worked on sets at photoshoots. With access to the world’s biggest superstars, it’s no doubt that they know all the piping hot tea. However, Kim of @thekimbino, is an unexpected fashion insider ready to take the industry by storm.

A primary school teacher by day, the 24-year-old Perth-based fashionista is a fashion insider by night. With almost 50K followers on Instagram, @thekimbino has built a steady following for her razor-sharp eagle eyed observations on celebrity fashion moments, engaging commentary on the latest state of fashion, and of course, all things Kim KW.

We go all the way back in 2017 when she discovered my account and from here, we’ve been keeping an eye on each other’s feed! Given that her account has been growing a lot, I decided that it was finally time to give her the interview of her dreams and decode the mystery behind the feed.

We catch up over this decade’s best/worst trends, the influence of the Kardashians on the fashion industry, the comeback of Y2K fashions, the current state of celebrity fashion and what it’s like to DM the world’s most famous reality TV icon.

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Real Girls Talk: A Girl’s Guide To KonMari’ing Your Toxic Friends

Sparking joy sounds like the biggest cliché you heard in 2019, but it has a ring of truth in it. No matter how sad or happy you feel, nothing makes your heart warm up more than a friend who is there for you at your best and worst moments. When time reveals that the friend you counted on is like a low quality Zara dress, is it time to toss the friendship in the donations box?

As someone who’s struggled with friendships all my life, it hurts to think about the new friend whose behavior often makes me question the friendship. Although I mainly like to blog about fashion, beauty, travel and get real with your Man Crush Mondays, I’ve been beginning to realize that as much as you look up to me as your resident kween, I am just a girl who deals with everyday struggles like you.

Given that I never had an easy time making friends at school, I always felt that having to keep around friends was a personal challenge for me as I had to break up with some whose actions broke my heart.

Even though we have times when we almost contemplate about ending a friendship, the simple principle on who to keep in your life goes on like this:

Despite this fuss-free KonMari method, there’s no “perfect” friend as we often make mistakes and fix them in a friendship. If you feel that you are having a hard time deciding on keeping a friendship or unable to define the types of red flags your friend’s been sending, here’s a lil’ guide on the types of behaviors you need to steer clear of:

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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.

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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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