Mexico City

A couple of months ago, my best friend Alex convinced me to buy a ticket for a flight to Mexico City for the contemporary art show Zona Maco. I did it on a whim, not knowing anything about the city, what the show was or where we would be staying, but was ready to fulfill my insatiable hunger for adventure and experiencing new places. Before I knew it, I was boarding a plane at LAX, passport in hand, still having not done my research as to what to expect. I had some pesos in my purse, walking shoes on and my camera I always traveled with slung over my shoulder. What more could I need?

I landed in the airport, passed through customs, and instantly had issues with my phone and getting onto a wifi network in order to use Uber (which was recommended). I had anticipated this being a problem, but unfortunately didn’t think that far ahead. It was late, I was slightly panicking, but took a few deep breaths, got my bearings and remembered I could speak Spanish and asked an armed guard where to order a cab. I road the twenty minutes to our Airbnb and was greeted with a warm hug and kisses by none other than my amiga íntima. Alex and I talked and shared stories like no time had passed at all even though it had been months since I had seen her last.

The next day we made our way to “Zona” as they call it- Alex had used her powers to acquire us two VIP passes which came in handy. We entered the fair and I was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size and volume of work. We entered gallery after gallery and I quickly identified work by artists like Jeff Koons, Marina Abramovic and even Andy Warhol. We spoke to artists and curators from all over the world in different languages that all melted away when talking about the universal language of art and how it influences us and makes us feel. It was such a breath of fresh air from the political turmoil I had been so absorbed in for the last several months. It restored my faith that art and self expression moves us to  greater things than simply the moment we are in.

The days following were a colorful blur of weaving through museums and parties and cafes and sipping glasses of wine in chic bars. We strolled through gorgeous peaceful parks, people watched and tasted the most incredible mole I’ve ever had in a market tucked away in an unassuming neighborhood. We spent time with Alex’s beautiful extended family who cooked for us and taught us all about Mexican culture. We discussed politics, Mexico’s education system and even why American’s warn “not to drink the water.” We drank cerveza and laughed with new friends who promised to visit us sometime. We ate fresh coconut while exploring Frida Khalo’s Casa Azul. I felt the warm golden afternoon sun give my skin the vitamin d it had been craving while sitting on our tiny apartment’s rooftop. This all reminded me that I was “here and now.” Something I’ve been working on this year: living in the present.

The night before I left, I cried to my friend in the bed we were sharing. I didn’t want to leave this slice of heaven that had served as an escape from all of life’s realities, I cried because I realized my home of Los Angeles has jaded me so and put me in such a bubble of comfort that I am so desperately working to claw my way out of; and mostly I cried because I knew I would be leaving my friend’s warm embrace. She reassured me we would be taking a trip like this again soon and that we would be reunited in another place and another time. For now I hold onto these memories through photos, as I always do during post vacation blues.

See some of the highlights of our trip below. All photos are by myself (Aly Nagel) and Alexandra Alvarez shot on a Canon rebel t5i. Edited by me.

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Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)

It’s Wednesday night, Donald Trump has been President of the Free World for six days now. My heart is sad even after a day of organizing, and planning with several different strong, inspirational women. I’m listening to my go-to in times of strife and uncertainty, Janis Joplin. As she wails her deep gut wrenching cries, she screams the affirmation “I’m gonna try just a little bit harder.” I realize that this affirmation Janis poured onto the stage in front of thousands of psychedelic festival goers in 1969 Woodstock, is exactly what I (we) need to hear right now in 2017. I love her music because it is built upon affirmations, reassuring herself that she is lovable even after people were so cruel to her for a majority of her short life. Her words represent a bleeding nation experiencing struggle, hate and uncertainty, and what it means to really wear your heart on your sleeve.

Janis was introduced to me by my father, a baby boomer who worked for everything he has. He put himself through school without the help of my grandparents, bought a home, cars and worked with my mom to give everything in their power to my sister and I including a college education. I respect him more probably than anyone on this planet and crave his approval in all my professional endeavors, as if to say, “look, what you gave me paid off.” He is one of the last of this kind, a dying breed, the hard working middle class who stays in their traditional ways, reads the newspaper, stays off social media and has hope that a glimmer of “The American Dream” still exists.

One word that has stuck with me from childhood into my journey to adulthood is “quit.” My parents are both part of that generation that believed with hard enough work, you could really reach your dreams. I remember in 10th grade after I had been playing the Flute for about five years, I became dispassionate about practicing monotonous 16th note scales for hours on end and trying to get my trilling just right. I remember playing at a recital and I choked. In reality, I probably did ok, but it wasn’t up to the standard I had held myself to in years past. I remember looking at my family, seeing their disappointed faces and feeling ashamed that I hadn’t just practiced like I had done so diligently in the past. Later when we were home and I was bitching about playing, my mom said “what are you gonna do? Just quit?!” The word lingered in the air for a couple seconds and sounded like it was the worst possible crime I could commit. I was silent for the first time as a teenager.

It’s been four days since the Women’s March happened, which I was lucky enough to have a role in planning. It served for many as a cathartic release of emotion. A place where people from different races, genders, and walks of life could gather and visually see that our numbers are great as a untied people, and our voices are LOUD. Louder than accusations of lies, and hate and discrimination. Although the march is receiving mixed reviews, it was effective for me and my healing process, and I’m sorry if that sounds selfish, but I need to be whole in order to help make a difference and fight the good fight.

Tonight, I along with so many others am plagued by the heartache of what our nation is to face in the next hundred days and the ominous next four years. I feel sadness for my immigrant friends and family and am disgusted that they would ever have to live in a place where they are not granted the same freedom and rights as someone who was born here. I am bleeding with the water protectors who are being exposed to atrocities I can’t even began to imagine and are being stripped of land that has been theirs for so many generations past. I am hearing the echoes of the cries of my African American brothers and sisters begging for “the man” to value lives of inner city males just as they would white. While I let this grief set in tonight, because sometimes it’s good to let pain seep into the depths of your soul, it is not healthy to wallow in it.

I am aware of my privilege and all I’ve been given and believe the universe dealt me this specific set of cards to have the ability to help others. For what is life, if you are just living it for yourself and own self gain? This affirmation is what has been keeping me going for the past couple months just like Janis does with her words. Tonight, I will get a good nights sleep and start a new, as we are all needed in this fight.

Adult

My writing often is a deeply personal reflection that happens during the hours of what some may call a “booty call.” It’s the time when I’m alone with my thoughts, my aspirations, my fears, things that are so purely me, I often forget exist or suppress them sometimes unconsciously or without knowing.

Sometimes I look for an inspiration so big it never seems to come, or in turn, I fixate on things that didn’t go in a way I might have planned and thus feel they aren’t worthy to divulge in detail.

The concepts of “growing up” and “adulthood” have been on my mind a lot lately. In the traditional sense of filing taxes, paying bills and eating more than just Dominos Pizza (if you so choose that lifestyle), and in an untraditional sense of learning to live a “life of substance” as William Miller’s overbearing mom preaches to rock star Russell, which instantly brings him back down to earth (+5 points if you get this reference).

Secretly, I think the word “adult” is just a term people over 18 or 30 or whatever age use to qualify their thoughts, feelings or actions. “After all, we’re all adults here.”

Even though my compilation of studies on adulthood have only ranged the past 23.5 years, more specifically in recent years when I’ve started to reach for a grasp on such a vague and intangible term- kind of like the word “brave.” You don’t know what it is or what it really means. Would you be able to describe it if someone asked you to? However, you know what it FEELS like, and more importantly, can identify it in others.

I think Adult is a similar idea in that it has to be seen by others to be felt by you (does that make sense)? I am pursing my lips and rolling my eyes at myself using this example, but several weeks ago, at my college graduation I felt Adult. Yes, I said it, and you’re probably expecting me to give some BS spiel about the real world (ew) or I’ll miss this (those words would never leave my lips) but no, it was in a different way. Feeling Adult was living in the moment of sticking to a folding plastic chair for three hours, listening to a string of speeches about success being mumbled over the loud speakers, and looking with glazed over thought-filled eyes at a sea of eclectically decorated graduation caps. In that moment, I pictured myself worlds away, hardly even a memory at this point, in my second year of college fully depressed, having an unhealthy relationship with multiple substances, not wanting to really continue going to school, having friends, or doing anything for that matter. That person, although it’s hard for me to remember her now, I know was part of this journey to Adult. And sometimes I get frightened when I see assemblages of her, but I comfort in the feeling that I can only move forward and never move back.

I recently gave someone from my past a second chance at getting to be part of my life (something I have only recently realized is a privilege). To know my thoughts, my goals, my desires, my fears, just me- this is something that is the toughest thing in the world for me to do. Letting people in to see all my parts, not just the physical facade the rest of the world sees. Unfortunately, I gave this person a glimpse, and they didn’t take it. I think they hadn’t reached that archetypical moment of Adult, and I’m not saying that in a condescending way, it was just apparent their inner demons were getting the best of them.


I’ve only cried real happy tears maybe twice in my life. Once, when I finally got to see my little sister Sarah come home from the hospital for the first time when I was six years old, the other, my college graduation. The minute I could see and touch Sarah when my dad and grandma brought her home in a tiny car seat, I brought her these two mini koala TY Beanie Babies from McDonald’s Happy Meals that I had specially saved  for her. That act of selflessness was a HUGE deal for me back then, saving a toy and planning in advance like that was pretty noteworthy (I think even my parents were impressed). I placed one on either side of her premature-sized bald head and told her they were her friends and gave them some ridiculous cutesy names I can’t even begin to try and remember. I looked down at this situation with pure joy, gloating because I had a little sister and she was all mine. It had been so long since I’d felt a feeling like that.

I felt a rush of emotion and warm endorphins circulating in my insides, wanting to burst out of the fibers of my very being as I ran to meet my mom’s embrace post walking across the stage at graduation. I think you can only experience that type of emotion with warm tears of joy and inexplicable explosive endorphins when you’ve passed a threshold of a truly Adult moment, never to look back again.

Life in Paradox

I’ve always admired California Wildflowers that adorn the dry hillsides in the spring and summer months. They grow in spite of the little rain we are gifted or the fact of anyone wanting them there, much like a weed, but they are so strikingly beautiful that they are left to flourish for a few treasured months out of the year. I particularly love the California Poppy’s that always seem to create a sea of tangerine dreams that are nearly impossible to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced them. My fondest memory of them was when growing up, my family and I used to take trips to Mammoth in the Sierra Nevada’s, and on the seemingly endless car ride we would pass fields of vibrant poppies on the highway in the middle of nowhere that stretched for miles. I remember trying to sketch them in small notebooks but the graphite on my flat page never quite did them justice. The vast fields of lush flowers burned like a bright wildfire piercing through the landscape, only to find juxtaposition against the daunting edifices of the great Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. And it wasn’t because they were well kept or anyone even cared if they were there, they were just there defying laws of nature and making onlookers believe that elements of magic are in fact very real.

My parents a couple months ago, scattered wildflower seeds in a stretch of soil in front of our house and the untamable flowers seemed to pop up overnight. The poppies are particularly incredible, and recently, as my mom and I were walking past them, she said “did you know they close up at night?” I paused in that moment and took a harder look at the flowers. This simple fact I had never realized about these flowers I love so much made them seem even more magical to me.

It’s amazing how much has changed in a little over a month’s time (since my last post), I began working a full time job in which I feel inspired every day and have regained a sense of purpose and direction in my life which I have truly never felt before in this way. I am making the commute to LA from Ventura (60-70 miles one way) about three times per week which is wearing on me, but I’m thinking (hoping) my perseverance will pay off, which it already has in a lot of ways. The reward of feeling inspired is enough in itself. It’s kind of a paradoxical life where part of me is safe in sunny Ventura and the other half of me wants to roam the unruly streets of Los Angeles, however, if they unite in one place they don’t feel entirely whole.

As I move forward in this new chapter of my life, I can fully look back and see past mistakes and shape them into learning experiences. Especially in the past year. I had this incredible realization the other day that “Wow, I have grown up.” And in no way am I as intelligent as I make myself seem or wise by any means, but this quantitative collection of experiences and knowledge has lead me to decide to write a book of memoirs showcasing experiences (for lack of a better word) of the first 25 years of my life or my silver anniversary (haha).

As I grow more and more into adulthood, and hatch from the shell of my reckless youth, I see myself how I was and how I am (sounds like the lyric of a Cranberries song from the 90s lol). Not really from a given time but maybe in a relationship perspective and what I valued, or maybe when I felt the most self-loathing versus how I am choosing to live and view myself now. At the risk of sounding utterly ridiculous, I feel like I am an excellent metaphor of a California Poppy as they are a paradox. I, like the flowers, continue to bloom beautifully proving to the world my inherent value because of my vibrant and indistinguishable beauty. (I know this sounds sickeningly vein but please stay with me here). However, this beauty dampens the value of the resilience these seemingly weak flowers must endure in order to remain something worth looking at. I am a poppy.

This month I have watched my mother go from bad to worse and lose most luxuries of living in which most of us call everyday menial tasks like going to the grocery store, walking the dog or even washing your hair on your own. I haven’t been able to truly face what is going on until now really because it’s so much different to be able to take emotion to pen and paper (hypothetically) than to actually recognize what is really happening, in your life, in that moment. Watching her everyday struggle is like having a razor blade chip away at little pieces of of my heart knowing that soon it will be completely mangled and not something anyone would truly want to have. Tonight, I had to fight to hold back tears while I helped her wash her hair in the kitchen sink, knowing how much she feels stripped of so much of her power to be and do things on her own. To me, she is still so powerful, how could you ever see your mother as something other than that?

*For the record, she is not able to wash her hair normally in the shower because she has an iv medication that was surgically inserted into her chest that cannot get wet under any circumstances.

But in these moments of despair I remember my somewhat silly “poppy paradox” and realize that there are even smaller luxuries in life that we forget to enjoy every day. Like laughing with your family at dinner, feeling the sun on your face during a hike and really feeling what it’s like to have someone truly love you.

I sometimes have an internal battle with my own paradox as the role I have been outwardly prescribed to play in this world is a blonde, pretty, young, straight female- things I identify with but don’t feel define me. These contrast with the multi-faceted person I feel I know to be true to my character that unfortunately is not told well by storytellers in power in our society today. In film, beauty and charisma automatically equate to happiness or, if the character is unhappy, there is always some sort of solution to her silly woes (usually always involving a man) because why would she ever have to deal with anything challenging because she’s pretty? Queue all my favorite heroins in movies: Katarina in 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Bride, Penny Lane, or even Cher in Clueless. All blonde, all their woes are solved by men… And to further prove this point that it’s not solely a white girl prob I give you the examples of Brandy in Cinderella waiting for her prince, Jennifer Hudson pinning for a lover who just upgraded to Beyoncé in Dreamgirls, Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard, and even Teresa in my favorite telenovela La Reina Del Sur. I think I’ve given enough of a variety to prove my point, but I won’t get into that now… The other end of the spectrum is, if you have any real human feeling as a female in film you are treated as some kind of a black sheep excommunicated from normal functioning society like Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted. Where it’s apparent that she’s hot, but you stay away because you know she’s “crazy” and you’re not really sure how blonde her hair is… The day there are multiple representations of the female/human experience represented in mainstream film will be a huge triumph because mental health is not something to be ashamed of. Okay feminist rant OUT… (much like Obama’s mic drop).

I was recently able to open up to a friend about “the darkness,” which is something I think we all possess in our deepest and darkest corners of our soul. However, through this experience with my mom I have seen the brightest, kindest illuminating lights of people’s souls which is somewhat of a paradox as well. Because in the dark, you can always find light and even though I don’t believe in God in a traditional sense, I feel a higher power in the universe is rooting for my family and I by granting us compassion and love by a network of fantastically giving people we would have not been blessed with otherwise.

This weekend my mom will be attending my college graduation with my family which is something none of us even dreamed would be happening several months ago. It will be most symbolic in that sense, that I can share something that is a milestone in both our lives and means so much to her.

Thank you all for your continued love and support. I don’t discount any of it.

X Aly

 

 

New Beginnings

Loneliness isn’t something you should be ashamed of, it should be something that you grow and learn from. It’s okay to spend time with yourself and know yourself and truly feel emotion- this is something that took me a long time to understand. Because, in being lonely you can learn to love yourself and find your best qualities as well as your ultimate downfalls. I will update you, my readers on the narrative of my story in the past months since I have neglected to share it before…

In December, I finally finished my nearly 6 year long and extremely difficult journey of obtaining my Bachelor’s Degree. Several weeks later I packed up my room in my small apartment in LA, and said goodbye to my roommates and the life I had there which was extremely difficult. In the past year I had experienced several different jobs, the hardships of finishing college and my first real breakup. I had friends there, it was a big city, the transition back to my small hometown of Ventura, CA was going to be difficult. I lust after the feeling of newness and the sheen of discovering new things and people, how was I going to discover that in a place I already spent 18 years of my life in? I was so naive only 2 months ago to think I was coming back to nothing. When really I was coming back to a family who loved me unconditionally and was waiting with open arms to receive me and congratulate me on my recent as Facebook would call it “Life Event” of finishing school and “starting the rest of my life.”

However, in that moment I was still hung up on the all-consuming feelings of a broken heart, close friends moving away and my life I had come to know and love in LA seemed like such a distant memory already. I was having a lot of trouble accepting this feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty- I suppose it’s what most people must feel like when they’re naked.

After days of frustration and the omnipotent theme looming over my head of “what the f*** am I going to do?!” I found solace in a close friend who had been staying on and off with my family in Ventura who suggested I drive back with her to San Antonio, Texas and we would make a road trip out of it. So, as an optimist always keen on finding ways to escape reality, I packed a suitcase, and booked a return flight from San Antonio to LA for the following Sunday. We spent about 24 hours total in the car and stopped to hike Joshua Tree’s incredible desert peaks as well as explore the much talked about eclectic contemporary art scene in Marfa, Texas. It was awesome- we were Thelma & Louise and the world was our goddam oyster. In the minuscule town of Marfa (really we walked the entire circumference several times), which has inspired the greatness of so many writers, artists and musicians, I myself found a transformative experience. Not that I am in any way great (at least my mom might think so). I found myself standing in a field of coarse tall grass looking at sculptures by a well known contemporary artist that were framed by beautiful never-ending blue skies, and I felt so small and so alive at the same time. The cold dry desert wind whipping my face, my nose running, laughing with my friend, feeling like there wasn’t a care in the world until I came back home and dealt with reality. The fact that I was a college grad, without a job, without a clear direction, with a nearly empty bank account and without a sense of independence that my Libra soul craves. I had to make the decision to be happy.

On that same trip I became extremely inspired by feminist narrative story tellers and poets like Eileen Myles (who we actually ran into in Marfa), Eve Babitz (an incredible muse to many and a self-proclaimed adventurous) and Janice Joplin who preached the longing of my melancholy heart in her signature raspy drawl blaring thru my headphones as I sat alone in the airplane terminal at 6:30am.

I returned home already missing the trip, waking up the days following wondering what my next move was. All the while taking for granted that although so much had changed, I was in a place where I was loved and cared for. Something that I’ve failed to mention in this blog for so long that effects mine and my families life everyday is the state of my mom’s health. It’s not often that I share something so personal with the entire world wide web, but hey I need an outlet.

The word reality for me (and probably many of you) has for my adult life thus far had a negative connotation. I remember one summer taking a class where we annotated “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and I told my professor I did’t like the book because it didn’t allow for fantasies or escapism (my feelings have since changed). For me, a long time reality has been my mom being very seriously ill since my last year of high school (nearly 6 years ago she was diagnosed with a rare and extremely debilitating and incurable lung disease). It has been something that has reshaped the way I view life and value relationships because there’s always the feeling that what you love can be taken away from you. Watching the person who brought you into this world struggle and have to fight for so long is the hardest thing I have had to experience in my short 23 years on this planet, and honestly I would not wish it upon anyone.

In the last month and a half that I have been home I have been trying to make peace with the reasons for me being here and having faith that there is still a journey in which I will take and be happy. And after getting to spend some time with my mom going to various doctors appointments and negotiating with doctors about what we think the countless meds are doing to her now weak body, I look at her and this experience and I struggle to find justification as to why this might be happening. A friend recently told me there is a reason clichés exist- it’s because they hold assemblages of truths that we secretly know to be true. I could get into “life is so precious” and blah blah blah but instead I am trying to do something else, which is allowing myself to feel a certain way and come to terms with where life is leading me at the moment. Sometimes, selfish acts and ways of thinking reflect your selflessness towards the people around you who you care about. And I want you to know, that the positives are quite exciting right now and may even overshadow the feelings of remorse for not spending more time with my mother. I’m sure when she reads this she’ll say “Aly, spare the dramatics” because I have a tendency to embellish detail (possibly from watching so many telenovelas as of late)- which says something about her character.

So yes I cry, but what’s wrong with that? Is it because reality is not the reality I’ve hoped for? I recently spent a lot of time and energy deeply caring for someone who was too blind to appreciate their current reality, and instead spent most of their time pining over other things and eventually completely lost site of what was eminently important. And yes, as the queen of clichés I can preach to you, my readers who may be feeling some of the grief or uncertainty that I’m going through, I leave you with this line from a Fleetwood Mac song I recently got tattooed on my body forever (lol):

It’ll soon be here. 

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1.14.16 in Marfa, TX.

I’ve Been Thinkin Bout Forever

I have been neglecting this blog for the past several months and I just sat down to write and really couldn’t pin-point the main reason. I guess numerous things have been happening that have been not only obstacles, but life-changing events (positive and negative).  I suppose the main reason I’ve put writing on the back burner is probably because for a while, I took off more than I could chew with school, work, relationships, etcetera. Sometimes we let unimportant or petty things get in the way of things we are most passionate about- and I am passionate about writing. As cliche as it sounds, I feel like I’ve been given a voice and story that if I share, people will listen (and I so appreciate that).

To bring you all a little up-to-date, for the last four months I have been enduring the last (full) semester of my career as an undergraduate college student. For those of you who don’t know, this journey for me has spanned over the past five years, multiple schools and continents. I left my parents house when I was 17 to attend a school far from home (500 miles) where I thought I’d be far enough for my problems to melt away- they didn’t. I hit a lot of big bumps during those first two years that I thought might dull my ever ambitious shine and stop me from doing what I wanted to do- but they didn’t. I found solace in an incredible internship where I felt constantly inspired and hungry to make something of myself and more importantly, to write. This inspiration was further fed by an unforgettable summer spent in Europe where my eyes were opened wider than they ever had been before. I discovered a love for art history, taking photos of people and learning about cultures much different from my own.

Yes the learning or traditional education I gained from a university experience has been important, but the things I learned about myself along the way have proven to be invaluable. Because, even though I am only 22 years old, I have lived in a city in a foreign country, been able to prove myself valuable in many different types of job settings, know how to communicate and numerous other lessons you cannot learn in a classroom. I’ve learned some things the incredibly hard way, and I’ve also learned things by observing others mistakes. My belief is, that every bit of information and wisdom you learn yourself or gain from someone else can prove to be extremely valuable. People who don’t have this type of mentality will not go far- trust me.

After this entire journey, I discovered last week that I will not be able to walk in my college graduation. I have to admit, when I received this news, I was pretty crushed. I needed something, anything remotely positive to hold on to and graduation was going to be it. However, since a few days have passed, I’ve realized that a traditional right of passage is not something I need because I haven’t had a traditional college experience whatsoever- and that’s okay. In places where I feel like I have come up short, I’ve been able to fill those voids with incredible and serendipitous relationships I have gained over the years. I don’t care how cheesy or cliche I’m sounding at this point, but I really do believe that things happen for a reason, and maybe the reason doesn’t always reveal itself to you immediately, but it will in due time.

Other than graduation, I have began to think about how I really want to achieve my lofty goals and pursue my career. I’ve been having trouble lately deciding exactly what it is I want to do, because I have changed my mind so many times. I recently had a friend ask me “what do you like to do?” and that question has been in the back of my mind since then. What a concept? Doing something you love for the rest of your life. When I was originally asked this, I thought of the Frank Ocean song “Thinkin Bout You” because there’s a lyric that says, “Or do you not think so far ahead? ‘Cause I been thinkin’ ’bout forever.” It speaks to me because anyone who knows me knows I am always anxious about the next thing that’s going to happen. For now I want to take this time and live in the moment.

Thank you for all your love and support and thank you for reading always.

xx Aly

New Years Eve Style Challenge

Last week in the rough of finals, I was excited to be contacted by DailyLook.com asking if I wanted to take part in their New Year’s Eve Style Challenge and I took them up on the offer! For the challenge, I had to pick my favorite little black dress
(so hard to choose just one) and create a look around the dress using their Polyvore-esque Style Sets. I came up with a glamorous yet simple NYE look that I think will be perfect for ringing in the new year!

I chose this dramatic Keepsake Maxi Dress complete with high side slits and a daring neckline as the item to style my look around. This dresses’ deep v-neckline is a flattering way to draw the eye toward your waist, making your middle appear smaller. My favorite part about this dress is probably that it’s a party in the back as well featuring thin crossing straps in an interesting pattern. I love this dress because it’s sexy in a very classy way and is a statement on its own that doesn’t require many accessories. I chose to pair it with delicate gold jewelry, strappy black sandals and an unexpected bronze clutch.

Here’s a preview of the dress and the complete look I put together, to see the links to all the items and the full style set, click here. Let me know what you guys think and what you’ll be wearing to start off 2015!

      Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 6.40.36 PM Screen shot 2014-12-15 at 6.59.07 PMKeepsake More Than This Maxi Dress in Black $159.99 

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Full look HERE.