Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Can I Do this DIY: crop top & accessories

Photography by R. Kooy

There really aren’t enough occasions to dress up for in life.  I've always loved formal wear; it means we're going places. Something special is about to happen. I think the real appeal of wearing costumes is that it allows us to take on different characters or personas so we become someone else entirely for an evening. Wearing this look feels like something out of a story. And what’s even cooler is that I made two of the items I’m wearing with very simple steps which I will explain below.

This is a linen maxi skirt I found in goodwill many years ago. What’s amazing about this skirt is that someone hand painted the scene on the front and back. It was also made in Hawaii. Apart from these minor details that were inscribed on the inside of the skirt, I know nothing about it. Other than the fact I don’t think it was actually intended for wear. I might not look it, but I was slightly suffocating.

Clearly this photoshoot was taken back in warmer weather, but I still want to talk about maxi skirts for a moment. I usually see people sporting them in spring and summer months, going for a relaxed but boho feel. I have two maxi skirts in my closet, one with a black sheer overlay (I DIYed it and made the black skirt underneath it shorter…More on that later, perhaps?) and another paisley printed one with a thicker material (which was also handmade, apparently). Recently, in this bitter cold weather, I’ve taken up the practice of wearing the paisley skirt with a pair of leggings underneath and I’ve found that this provides far more insulation against wind than wearing pants alone.

So about that crop top! This is the first “Can I Do this DIY?” review I’ve done for this blog and I’m proud to say it was incredibly easy. This came from a popular tutorial floating around on Pinterest, originally posted on a pair and a spare blog (click on the two links to find two sets of instructions). 

Here’s all it is to it: get a tank top, lay the top face down, cut along the seams in the back and cut across just under the bra line. Turn the top over, and measuring correctly, make one sweeping cut up the middle. It’s not much to look at in this form, but to wear it, you cross the two long pieces you’ve just made, tie a knot in the back and tuck in any corner pieces around the neckline. Viola! Having used a random tank top from my drawer, I do advise DIYers to grab a top that is long. I can’t stress this enough. The one I had barely made the cut. The top needs to at least reach slightly below the hips… If not, you won’t be able to tie it in the back. Although the tutorial and I used solid colored tanks, I would love to see what this looks like a with a patterned top. You’ll also want to be aware of the type of fabric you use…Realistically, I doubt this top has much longevity, especially if you have to wash it (I would hand wash it if you absolutely have to) but I made sure to use a jersey fabric because it stretches and doesn’t easily become threadbare.

I made this hair accessory out of a thrift store floral arrangement I found for twenty-five cents. All I did was spray paint it a metallic gold and let it dry. Using one of those packaged sponge buns you can find at most beauty suppliers, I pulled my hair into a tight bun and placed the floral pieces accordingly. However you want to place them is up to you; I went for a denser, fuller look. With hairspray and a little faith, they neither shed nor broke, but driving in a car with a low roof was a challenge! When not wearing the arrangement, you can use it as a nice decorative display by putting it in a vase on your vanity or night stand. Isn’t it so cute?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I’ve been thinking about this one word a lot. I wanted to know if you could define your environment or mindset in one word, what would it be? It’s not necessarily that that one word defines you or your circumstances forever - what word synchronizes your thoughts and motives at this very moment?


When I think of this word, I think of that brief, beautiful moment of summer twilight that lasts for only a minute before night completely takes over from evening. I think of walking through an airport terminal and passing by gates whose destinations are places I’ve never heard of. I think of flipping pages back and forth comparing my place in a book with how many more pages there are until the end. I think of clothes that don’t fit me anymore.

I’m in a part of my life where the only knowledge I can rely on is that change is the only constant.

I begin every morning looking out the window as I open my curtains. I can just feel the cold emanating through the glass, see the ice crystals glittering in the lawn. It’s that part of the cold season where the day is never constant and I never quite know how to appropriately dress. The mornings are chilly and I feel the need to bring out my heaviest winter coat as I load up my bags to head to morning classes. By the time the sun fully emerges in the afternoon, the temperature is somewhere close to 70 degrees and I curse myself for over-dressing.

I let the whole month of October pass without any consideration to this blog due to far more important obligations, let’s be honest. I’ve been thinking a lot about transience and the movement of time, how it changes based on your own perspective. I’m approaching the end of my college journey and I think I’ve been swept over by nostalgia. When you get to the end of a journey, it’s normal to look back and think about what you would have done differently. I would be lying if I said the future didn’t scare me, but I take it that it’s a reassurance. I care enough and am motivated to always be considering what’s next.

In thinking about this photoshoot, which was obviously taken way back from the end of summer, I was reminded of another photoshoot I did a long time ago where I wore another poncho and a braided headband. I don’t get to wear ponchos that often, but I love that they constantly remind you of your movement; they emphasize your body language. At first, I was worried that this look was way too similar, but then reasoned to myself, who on earth would have remembered that shoot from over three years ago? In a sense, I think of this photoshoot as an homage to that old one. We are constantly reinventing and renewing our image. That’s the purpose of style; it's both evolutionary but reminiscent.

I am completely in love with these jeans from American Eagle. I honestly hadn’t shopped there before, but a friend introduced me to these jeans when I told her I was in desperate need of a new pair (the last pair I’d bought was nearly six years ago…!) This style is called the hi-rise jegging. I really benefit from high-waisted pants because my stomach is rather long and low rise to normal pants don’t always cut it. These are without a doubt the comfiest pair of jeans I own and they actually stay skinny which is an enormous plus. They paired perfectly well with my crop top floral bustier.

When I’m not carrying around a backpack everyday, I’ll try and figure out a way to pair a poncho with a winter top. I’m sure it can be done.

Next time, Harlequin goes full avant-garde. DIY tutorial to come! Be prepared. xx


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mirror Mirror

If you stare at this top too long, you might go cross-eyed. Or find yourself in the Twilight Zone.

It's been my dream for a while now to do a very dramatic black and white photoshoot. This bold striped top presented the perfect opportunity to execute this idea. I’ve paired this with velvet black leggings and one accent accessory to really allow the print to speak for itself.

Peplum tops are hugely popular finds in most all clothing department stores these days. It took me a while to jump on this big trend, but now that I've committed to it, I’m in love with the concept. It can be dressy or casual. I almost think of a small dress when I look at it. It’s flattering for most body shapes too – no matter what size you are, it gives you nice, exaggerated curves with the flared bottom piece.

One of the topics I wanted to expand on more from my last post was “Can I Do This DIY?” - This peplum top inspired me to want to research other ways to get a peplum top without finding one on sale somewhere, which is exactly where I found this beauty on the banana republic clearance rack over the summer.

I’ve discovered some tutorials online that show us just how to do that. Except the problem is, the tutorials require sewing, which I have very little skill in. I have all the resources at my disposal (sewing machine, needle, thread) but I’ve just never been great to know what to do with each material. However, this tutorial looks incredibly easy and I’m going to challenge myself to try this. I like the idea of converting an over-sized t-shirt into a peplum top. A band shirt would be very edgy, but I do like solid colors or patterns myself. There are ways you can play with the neckline in this tutorial, you can do a rounded edge like shown, or easily cut a V-shape into the neckline like the one I’m wearing. I fully intend on playing around with that. I also like that this is a video tutorial too – sometimes pictures don’t fully explain. You can watch the video at this link.

This isn’t a great example of my DIY posts to come, simply because with five college classes and working nonstop has prevented me from being able to sit down for one long evening and try it out. However, if you happen to be a great sewer, here’s your chance.

The most useful thing that has happened during my extended blogging leave is a proliferation of a whole new platform to share pictures with a larger community: Instagram! If you look to the sidebar, I've got this nice little widget that shows all my Instagram photos on a slideshow for your viewing pleasure and convenience. To make this more fun than just sharing the same old pictures, I’ve figured out how to make this more interesting: I will be posting outtakes from all of my photoshoots on my Instagram - @ water_lilies. These exclusive pictures will not wind up anywhere else. (Oh come on, don’t act surprised I’m shamelessly promoting my Instagram account. I’m a fashion blogger, it’s what I do.)

Next time, I'll be saying a warm farewell to lovely summer weather and summer clothes with one last outdoorsy, hiking look. Until next time!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Welcome home

Hello again after two years later! Welcome back to any familiar faces, and a sincere welcome to any newcomers. Fancy a cup of tea? Champagne?

I think the most important thing at this moment to address is why – why I left, and ultimately, why I came back.

I abandoned this blog because I let a lot of things get to me. Let’s be real for a second: style blogging is a lot of work for relatively little recognition. You have to take photos, edit them, write an interesting post, promote it on other blogging platforms as part of an endless cycle while constantly maintaining a unique sense of style and always planning one step ahead. During my short time in the fashion blogging community, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered this complaint, but I personally couldn’t shake this feeling of being vain and it created an inexpressible internal conflict. As I neared the end of my blogging days, I started to become very experimental in the photo editing process, generating unique concepts that edged me to want to do more. However, I wasn’t focused in my endeavors and struggled to find relevant writing material.

And so I stopped without any type of closure.

I came back because, well, why else. I missed it. Bottom line. For a time, I would visit this blog and look through the pictures, either cringing or thinking to myself man, I really had fun that day. I’ve always loved fashion, that part of me will always remain true. But fashion is only secondary to what really drives me: It’s writing. I want to write, and what better way to do it than blogging, right?

The objective for this blog and this ongoing project is to focus on leading a creative lifestyle. There’s a weird phenomena with artistic-minded people in that creativity is best when balanced with other creative pursuits. If you devote all your time and energy into one thing, you’ll soon become burnt out and loose all inspiration you’ve invested into that one thing. When you challenge yourself to engage in multiple efforts at a time (reasonably speaking) you can develop better, stronger problem solving skills that will eventually sharpen each project over time and allow you to look at each of your pursuits in a new perspective. Confused? Don’t worry, I still am.

What I really mean to say is that the more writing I can do, the better I will be at it. Especially after I learn the art of pacing myself.

I want this blog to be a portfolio of my work: my writing, modeling, styling, and even web design work. This is a showcase of talent. I want my work to stand for itself and to do that, I need good content.

That brings me to the next important topic, what to expect from here on out.

I think an integral component of the Harlequin blogging agenda will doubtlessly be striking photographs. In a highly visual culture, we all know an image is more likely to capture one’s attention than words alone (the writer’s woe.) Fashion is all about seeing, and importantly, liking what we see. This blog isn’t going to be just streetwear anymore, but what I would like to think of as branching into “attainable high fashion” – that is, the most idealized form the self can take with no apologies. Haute couture and "high fashion” are, in my humble opinion, the pinnacles of the fashion world and I want to strive to bring that into my lifestyle, and hopefully, if I’m so blessed, to inspire others to do the same. Through my writing, I want to learn more about the representation of self and how we create identity through style and aesthetic choices.

I’m implementing new changes in all facets of this blog. One new and I hope very exciting change will be incorporating styling series. Some of the ongoing series I’ve come up with:

How to style specific clothing items…. Do you have that one item in your wardrobe that you are stuck forever pairing with the same pieces over and over? With this series, I’ll look at multiple ways of wearing the same piece and how accessories and other items can completely change the look depending on setting and mood.

How to accessorizeFor this, we’ll look at using one outfit and trying on multiple accessories. Or, say, you really are set on wearing certain accessories, and how you can plan outfits around them. This series will explore changing the ever changing tones of a look.

And this one, I’m really excited about….

“Can I do this DIY?” In this series, I will explore and test DIY fashion tutorials from around the internet, rating and reviewing them based on level of difficulty, practicality, and whether I would recommend it. I will provide additional notes, advice, and other commentary for further personalizing these tutorials. Since I’m not a great designer of DIY things, I’m better at trying out DIY stuff and seeing if it’s really worth it in the end. Let it be known to the ends of the earth, I lead a DIY life. But some of these tutorials want me to go out and buy materials, which really isn’t that resourceful in my opinion. Plus, many of them look amazing but you really need expert level skill to create the item.


Phew. I think I’ve said my peace.  It was a lot to say, way more than I anticipate saying normally, but very important nonetheless. I think this blog really is about finding a voice in a loud world.

Next time, we’ll talk about what happens when your selfie needs an update. Look forward to monochromatic styling, total absence of color, optical illusions, and peplum tops.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Announcing the return of Harlequin

After a two year hiatus, I'm back. And this time I've got a few tricks up my sleeve... Including the recruitment of longtime friend and photographer, Ryan Kooy, to help me execute some big plans. Stay tuned in the near future for more posts!

I am in the midst of making some major layout changes as well. As you can see, I've got a totally new design and am working more on content to fill the pages.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hello Sweetie

UO top, Levi's acid wash jeans, new york & company bracelet. 

I paid for that one-off silly idea of mine to write something (or rather, beg someone to write) on my back. Wearing a tank top around my home, my friend comes over and asks me "what's that on your back?!" The punch line is that the photoshoot was, like, a couple days ago. I had no idea I'd been walking around with "Hello Sweetie" still written there, albeit faded. I figured it had come off in the showers since. Moral: don't trust showers. Have the same person you bothered to write something on you remove it quickly thereafter. Because explaining why you desired the words "Hello Sweetie" on your back because it's a perfect reference to your favorite TV show and you wanted a crazy way to introduce your upcoming ideas just won't cut it.

I feel like the moment I have it in writing, I'm officially obligated to do it. So I'm not eager to marry myself to a project before I have everything set in stone.

But I may or may not be "cosplaying" of sorts soon (I shudder to introduce my idea in such way - cons/conventions come to mind with overweight men dressed in Sailor Moon costumes). And by cosplay, I mean invent an outfit that is a perfect reference to a costume that is also equally acceptable to wear in public/everyday - "inspired by" is the key phrase I've been using. You heard me right. Clearly with my shift in focus for this blog, I'm willing to experiment and be a little unorthodox. Plus, I've grown up a geek, been called that my whole life, it's time I embrace it and do something uncalled for with that part of my history. 

Speaking of nerdy things, this shirt kind of makes me feel like a villain out of Star Trek with it's high collar and block-y design. Maybe I'm still in the sci-fi geek mode...This is the first time I've worn pants on this blog in a long, long time. I just noticed that. Huh. 

If you consult google with the quote on my back and the hint I've used, you should be able to deduce exactly what I'm referencing. I will except all "geek", "nerd", "dork", or any variation of sorts in the comments below. doo wee wooooo....


Thursday, May 31, 2012


Top - thrifted (banana republic), skirt - Urban Outiffters, tights - don't remember, shoes - nine west, peter pan collar - f21, origami stock photos @, 

noun 1. a person who takes up an art, activity, or subject merely for amusement, especially in a desultory or superficial way; dabbler.
2. a lover of an art or science, especially of a fine art.


I feel like I'm very slowly and meticulously 'finding my niche' in this industry and it's simultaneously helping me discover myself on some level.

Let me explain the significance of 'the niche': when I first started this blog, I had all the support in the world from my friends and family. One of the most guiding pieces of advice I was given was to find a way to break a mold, find a specialized niche that is completely of your own invention - let's face it, there's a million beautiful girls out there with their own unique sense of style who want to share it with the world. That's great. Power to you. But if you don't differentiate yourself from the next girl, your style and personality are just going to be washed under the rushing sea of the rest of the community. I find myself saying these sort of things when giving style advice* to other girls: don't do that, it's too mainstream. Meh, it's been done before. I consider myself a snob in this manner, but how else are trends made if you're not a little daring and stubborn?

*I think that's the biggest perk of the blog. Somehow running one translates to people I know remotely anything about fashion/style. So I get told often "I'm gonna make you my shopping buddy!" Sure, if you want someone to tell you how mainstream something looks and suggest something else that looks terrifying on the hanger to you, I'm your girl. (That being said, I really should concoct a formula/blog post about how to shop in thrift stores, because that's what I keep running into - people who like the idea of buying reused, but have no idea where to start.)

Having just constructed a very snotty argument about not wearing conventional trends, I bring myself to talk about the peter pan collar - ok, ok, it is a trend right now, BUT I firmly believe it's one that I will stick with because A. I've always loved them and their childlike quality. B. With my hair, it superficially makes me feel like some sort of 60's mod and thus gets me one step closer to time travel. C. collars in general are decorative palettes to me. (I've been in the habit lately of taking clip-on earrings and putting them on my collars. Expect a blog with one soon.) and lastly, D. because they're such a trend now, I'm able to find them everywhere I go, whereas before, I was on eBay a few months back looking at some from Hong Kong. I just saved myself a bunch of shipping and handling.


When I have my own magical castle I call home, I'm totally doing this.