Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rising in the Far East

Rhapsody red puff shoulder jacket (M) // Pitaya sheer pleated maxi skirt (S) // H&M mid length skirt (Euro 4, worn inside) // H&M yellow lace cami (Euro 4) //
Xhilaration yellow strappy wedges (5.5) // BCBG Generation metallic foldover clutch // Forever 21 turquoise beaded necklace //

Photography: JJ

Happy belated Earth Day and Happy Easter! This week has been kind of crazy. Aside from my H&M ordeal, a series of tornadoes have raked through our airport and dealt some damage. I was so tired from this ghastly week that I slept through all 4 sirens. I can't believe there's only 2 weeks left of school altogether. Another year of college gone, another step closer to graduation ... Lordy. I've been inspired to take Immunology for a variety of reasons in the fall, but I'm excited to finally learn and start wondering about all the things I should have been chewing on slowly for the past decade. Has it really been a decade? Oh how time flies and yet it crawls. This semester has been exhausting - I won't miss the daily hassle but once this ends the application train will be soon arriving. Am I ready? I better be. 

Today, I wore this outfit to watch a seriously impressive showdown of talent. Never have I heard such angelic crooning out of so many usually timid people. I felt monstrously tall in these wedges, with the maxi dress hiding my legs (my boyfriend is taller than me, so these photos stunt the great length a bit) and the poofy sleeves on the jacket making me larger than life. We also watched 28 Days Later last night and it made me think about a lot of things, about morality, about justice and karma, about how zombies are exactly like vampires and could do with a 15 minute flash during their early subjective night. Oh Clocks, how I won't (and kind of will) miss you. Is it time to be a senior slacker yet? I wish.

I stuck a piece of red-markered pink construction paper on the clutch that Annie gifted me through a giveaway and voila, a Japanese flag. There are things I don't agree with historically but when it comes down to it, it's the little people that have to bear all the suffering. No one deserves to suffer. My heart goes out to the people for a speedy recovery. May the sun rise again in the East.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Return Policies Just for Show?

Today I went to H&M at the St. Louis Galleria very excited to finally try on items from the Conscious Collection and after an hour and a half of choosing from their incomplete collection (didn't even have the scallop hem shorts or dress and only sizes 8 and up left) and trying on items, I headed for the checkout counter. I informed the cashier that I had a return to make - a black pair of high-waisted shorts that I thought was too granny and didn't have time to try on at the store. I had not put the belt back on because I don't know how to tie their pretty bows and the tag was unattached too but I brought it. The cashier asked someone higher up to do the return and when this person came by, she examined the shorts and said that they had already been worn. I had sat down in them and worn them briefly in an air conditioned room, for no more than 2 hours. Then I took them off and folded them up to return because I really thought that they were too granny for my legs. I provided a receipt and politely said that No, I have not really worn them. Worth a shot, right? I realize that that was wrong but this lady kept shaking her head and forcefully saying that they had been worn, can't do the return. She told me to look at the seat of the pants - well, they were clean, maybe had a few faint wrinkles, but probably was less wrinkly than at the time of purchase because the fabric bunches easily. There are no sweat marks or other weird signs - could she really tell or was she bluffing because the tag was unattached? Either way, I paid for the pair of shorts and vest I was going to get but felt in the bottom of my stomach unease. I don't like confrontation and wanted my money back. 

I never had any problems before returning things at H&M and valued not only their clothes but general service above places like Forever 21. Recently, I've been noticing that the workers are becoming more testy. The stores encourage you to buy first, then you can always return later but it's more complicated than that. There are a bunch of vague policies stated on their receipt that don't translate into real practice. Come on, they say they'll even refund you without a receipt ... who believes that? They'll make some excuse. Big company, bigger success, more hectic, I get it, but it doesn't mean that you can keep fooling customers with your policies.

This is their return policy stated on their website and receipts:

Valid identification required for non-receipted returns includes: drivers license, state issued card, passport or military/ government ID.

Returns with original receipts

Unwashed, unworn or defective merchandise may be returned within 30 days of purchase date for a full return. Refunds will be issued in the original form of payment unless a merchandise credit is requested. Merchandise credit receipts are not considered original receipts. Merchandise returned after 30 days will be refunded at the last activity/ sale price or the current selling price, whichever is lower, in the form of a merchandise credit.

Returns without a receipt

Unwashed, unworn or defective merchandise may be returned with a valid photo ID. Merchandise returned without a receipt will be refunded at the last activity/ sale price or the current selling price, whichever is lower, in the form of a merchandise credit, if the total value of the return exceeds $5.00. Merchandise cards are not transferable.

Final Sale

Gift Card purchases and discounted final sale merchandise are not eligible for refund or exchange.

Credit card refunds

Returns made to a credit card can only be returned to the card used for the original purchase. Due to varying bank policies, please allow 1-2 billing cycles for the credit to appear.
I realize that most of this was my fault and I should have outright told them I had worn it for a few hours and kept it clean, but I think they should have been less curt and fix their policy. There is tons of crap in their stores covered with makeup and rips from people trying it on and if you get suckered into buying it, they'll do anything they can to make you keep it. Read about another girl's story here - they actually banned her from the store for trying to return something after she tried it on outside the store. Also, I heard about H&M slashing their clothes so that homeless people couldn't take them? I'm not one to believe rumours, but nothing surprises me anymore.

Not only is H&M guilty, Forever 21 has an even worse policy. They don't allow returns and their exchanges are limited. Last fall, I purchased a pair of clear black framed glasses online and found that they were too big. The tag was still attached, I had merely put the thing on my face and decided it didn't fit and took it to the mall within a few days of receiving the package, where they said, "we don't exchange accessories from online." Where is that stated in their policy? I also had trouble returning various items of clothing that I got online back to the stores. My sentiments towards shopping at Forever 21 have since then declined drastically, and now I'm not sure I want to deal with H&M either. It's a pity because I really like the clothes at H&M but the service just stinks sometimes. Never have I gone there recently and been met with a smiling face. Hopefully someday soon they'll figure things out, but until then I'm going to stay away from the one at the Galleria for a while. 

Ladies (and gents), has this ever happened to you at H&M or any other store? Did you ever wear something briefly and then return it? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Of Milkweed and Thyme Consumption

H&M monarch butterfly cropped top (Euro 4) // H&M yellow lace tank (Euro 4) // 
H&M ruched mid length skirt (Euro 4) // BCBG Generation metallic foldover clutch //
American Eagle brown peeptoe wedges (5) // H&M polka dot socks // 

Photography: JJ

Vintage wash oh-so-good. Today I timed myself for exactly how long does it take to produce one outfit post. This little experiment will help streamline posts in the future and gauge where I need to speed things up. The not-obvious-til-now bottleneck lies in photo editing. Although Lightroom makes my life sooo much easier, it still takes time to get everything perfect. The vibrance this time took forever to tweak since I don't want to oversaturate but I want all the colours to snap crackle POP. Maybe I should stop being such a perfectionist. If only it were that easy. The lesson learned here is the less photos, the better, faster, harder stronger. I cannot afford 2.5 hours of my day to update every day, so I should top it off at 10 photos max, aim for 8. Maybe I can write a program too to speed things up in LR. Here is the breakdown:
  • Makeup: 10 min
  • Outfit: 5 min
  • Shoot with JJ: 15 min
  • Upload: 1 min
  • Choose photos to edit: 6 min
  • Lightroom to perfection (12 photos): 47 min
  • Upload to Blogger and format order and size of photos: 32 min
  • Write content: 15 min
  • Title, add links, finalize format: 10 min
  • TOTAL: 2 hours 21 minutes
Also, I just noticed that my outfit was almost completely H&M. I am dying to try out the Conscious collection and finally get my grubby little paws on some scallop hems! My black hair has also faded again to this weird orangey colour and hopefully one last dye will correct this once class ends. I am so ready for this semester to end so that summer can be here and I can frolic (when I get off my 9 to 5). I am very excited about working in lab full-time but sad that I'll have to wear pants and normal professional people clothing. Tights and slacks shopping, here we come.

By the way there's a freaking deluge going on outside. Tornado season, the sky is ominously purple-greyish and I get the feeling that my ceiling's going to cave in from all the hail. Can I just have one normal day of spring, pretty please? These photos were taken only 2 hours ago o_0

Colours in the Mirror are Blockier than they Appear

Xhilaration mustard strappy wedges (5.5) // Taiwanese brand teal tights // Thrifted camel satchel bag //
Nail polish: L.A. Colors in Turquoise, Pure Ice in Wild Thing (dots), Wet n Wild in Glitz (glitter) //

Photography: Self timer and tripod

Le gasp, a timely update! I remember I wore this on April Fool's Day when the air turned cold again and snapped at my heels wedges. This simple black dress has lace roses across the chest, which adds just the right amount of flair. While trying on H&M sale items, my boyfriend really liked this one and it's a work-appropriate length (good for the limited office wardrobe I do have). Since it was a size small but too loose on me, I cinched the waist with a leopard print ultra-skinny belt, also from H&M. I wanted to add colour, so I put on my mustard summery wedges and teal tights and used my vintage-y camel satchel bag to hold my laptop. I didn't realize I had started colorblocking a long time ago before this trend really took off. Now all I'm doing these days is writers' blocking.

It was also really windy that day and the clouds raced across the sky like mad. My tripod wobbled and shook but I'm glad I posed by the windows outside my dorm hall because it is a clear mirror on the world outside and how rapidly the scene shifts. I also did my nails in celebration of finishing a Physics exam. Speaking of exams, I have a dreadful one for Neuroscience coming up that is daunting the socks off me. Wish me the best! *cringe*

Meanwhile, check it! : )

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Crayola 64

Forever21 french toast print tee (S) // H&M bright floral ruffle tiered skirt (Euro 4) //
Xhilaration mustard strap wedges (5.5) // Forever21 turquoise beaded necklace //
H&M sunglasses // Happy Bunny ankle socks // 

Photography: JJ

Hello beautiful (and handsome) readers! The semester is trickling to a stop and spring is full-on (minus the fact that it was 43 degrees today in mid-April what the hickory). This weekend has been absolutely nuts with programming and fun events - dance performances, water balloon fights, carnival, night market. I think I ate over 10 pounds of food and my waistline is definitely showing it fu fu fu :3 It's also good to see old friends again and I once again feel young and like a freshman in their presence. Pretty soon I'll be a graduate too ... that is so weird. College is nearly over and I barely even started time to breathe and have fun.

This skirt caught my eye during the H&M sale I recently took advantage of and as crazy as the pattern is, the fit is good but length is not when I'm walking. I remember when I wore this on super-windy Friday, the wedges kept inching the hemline up to my dismay and I kept yanking it down. There's a zipper in the back and the tiers aren't as poofy as they may have been once upon a time. Very colourful theme going on, also involving very comfy summer wedges from Target (thanks suitemate for telling me to risk mustard yellow over boring brown!) that fit okay for being 5.5s. There was also tornado warnings going on all afternoon and I had to drag heavy boxes around campus and race against Mother Nature. It ended up pouring enough to turn the deserts into sea but we just escaped in time.

Meanwhile, yes I have been running more and thus my calves and thighs are getting their daily dose of hypertrophy. Healthy is beautiful and don't you ever forget it. Jump shots and necklace-in-face action for your enjoyment. Peace and love for the weekend! (... and brunch and clocks and wikipedia editing and applications ... it never ends)

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Met Mike Chang from Glee!

Photography credit: Lucy Huo, Vincent Wu, Matt Mitgang

Last last weekend I attended the annual CSA Speaker Event (made possible by many other student groups on campus of course), featuring Harry Shum Jr, who plays Mike Chang on Glee. I KNOW. It was such an experience not just from the fan-crazed side of things but I learned something from a humble normal guy who just happens to dance very well and be on one of the most popular shows to ever have grazed primetime. 

For those who don't know, Harry Shum Jr was born in Costa Rica and grew up in various places in California. His first language was actually Spanish. He inspires me because he fights the stereotype of nerdy, victory-sign posing Asian American (I wish the screenwriters actually did so more with his role in the show). He describes that when he dances, he "becomes a slave to the music" and my favourite line of the afternoon, "Dance is what music looks like." I faced a lot of the same prejudices as he did growing up in places devoid of mass Asian populations, being called names like "bonsai" and "flat-face," being bullied and ostracized because I stood out in the crowd, in the sea of same. And I learned how to break that barrier and speak through my leadership, through my writing, through my fighter spirit. Many times I did break down on this this journey of developing a positive sense of identity, but I came out the other end proud of my heritage, not only being Chinese, but being Chinese American. "Work ethic, work ethnic."

I relearned that day that you have to fight for what you love. Harry Shum Jr lets his feet do the talking, his mouth do the walking. It will be a long time before the American media accepts the Asian American face and voice as a strong vital character, not just for supporting roles or stereotypical "Asian" characters.  I'm glad I got to shook his hand and have my Gleek moment, but mostly I'm glad that I could renew my passion for hard work. I realize that I have not been blogging as much as I like but this is still something I  love to do. When things calm down in this final stretch month, summer will be here! Since my last update, I have met with my four advisors, been accepted to the Neuroscience summer research program, settled off-campus living for summer/next year, figured out how I want to approach medical school and the application process, and had quality time with friends in the STL spring summer. 

I thank you, all my wonderful readers, for commenting and supporting me and letting my voice be heard. To come this summer: 
  • Work-friendly outfit posts
  • Summer wardrobe
  • Busy busy premed
  • SLR camera! (Scholarship cha-ching)
  • Blog shop

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