When I first heard about the “American Cool” art exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I  scoffed at the idea of “who actually gets to define what’s cool?” The American Cool exhibit is an art exhibit which highlights some of America’s most notorious and not so notorious American cultural icons.

The first exhibition room is titled “The Roots of Cool : before 1940.” This room will take you back to a moment in time that most of us only see on the History Channel. We are formally introduced to the likes of better known people like Mae West, an American actress, playwright, and sexual vixen whose career spanned across seven decades. Another cultural icon, Zora Neale Hurston, the American folklorist and anthropologist, is best known as the prolific author of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as, the magnificent Bessie Smith, who was the most influential blues singer in American history and the first major feminist voice in American Music. Also featured in this first exhibit room was the beautiful actress Greta Garbo, who was one of the biggest stars at MGM studios and 1920′s legend Bix Beirderbecke who is best known for creating the jazz ballad sound which today is commonly referred to as smooth jazz.

Some of America’s coolest figures had a deeper story to tell. This exhibit gives us a glimpse into some of the racier aspects of their lives. It wasn’t just the “rosy” stories most of us were told in history class about many of these people. But you were able to get a true sense of who these iconic figures were outside their public and/or well known personas. It made the exhibit a real learning moment for me. Most of these shocking secrets about the deep, dark pasts of America’s most famous figures are people who are now deemed to be very cool. The exhibit covers a very diverse subjects from various cultures, backgrounds and age groups. There were hipsters, toddlers, senior citizens and everything in between.

One of the standout moments for me had very little to do with what I was viewing on the walls. I was walking around when I came across an elderly woman who was checking out one of the interactive video displays. At these interactive displays, visitors can choose an era of cool. She and her cane got busy right in the middle of the floor when she heard Missy Elliott’s “The Rain.” It clearly demonstrated that the age boundaries were officially crossed and what was “cool” does not adhere to age old stereotypes.

When you walk into the hallway titled “Alt-100,”  the walls were lined with some of the most controversial figures of most recent past. I halted in my tracks at the sight of Kurt Cobain’s photograph which was purposefully positioned next to Bruce Springsteen and Quentin Tarantino. At that moment, I was officially blown away. In the same hallway, I had a meaningful dialogue with a number of people of different ages and nationalities.  We seem to all agree that the exhibit’s range was robust and the range of controversial figures was inclusive. I left feeling that no matter who you are or where you come from or how old you are,  this exhibition is something amazing which folks need to make time to see.

What do Tony Hawk, Jay Z and Madonna all have in common? Check out the exhibit American Cool exhibit to find out. I guarantee that you will be speechless and feeling mighty “cool” when you leave.

 

This anthem is a new twist on Billy Joel’s song “All For Leyna.” They picked up the pace, added some heavy drums and a few claps. But the track captured my attention simply because of the vocals. The female vocal arrangement pleading for Leyna one more time is enough to pull you in (if the beat isn’t enough). This is a heavy bass-infused, kicking song remake and remix of Billy Joel’s old tune. The new life infused into this track is all thanks to Misun, a band from DC. Misun produces songs which take musical influences from rock, hip hop, and in this case EDM (Electronic Dance Music). Though they started as coworkers in the same restaurant, lead vocalist Misun Wojcik, bassist William Devon, guitarist and producer Nacey and drummer Jon Jester relocated to LA, and have recently performed at SXSW.

The remnants of the old song remain, but carry such a different energy than its predecessor.  Gone is the gut wrenching urgency and the extreme feeling of an unrequited obsession that Joel conveyed in every word. This version takes several steps back from the ledge and lightens the bleak picture of love sucking hope down in its undertow. The lyrics are there, but the listener knows this song is for fun. A lighthearted high-pitched female voice recites the same lyrics, but to seduce the club generation who are used to big beats and chopped up vocals. At about the 2:45 mark, there is about 30 seconds worth of haunting vocals that seem to provide the listener with a solemn break to remind the listener of the true intent of the lyrics. Let’s be honest, spring is here finally. Who really wants to be down? The beat drops back in and everything is right in the world. With such a varied sound, Misun is a group worth your attention, regardless of your favorite genre.  Check out the songs below, you’ll be surprised at their range.

Misun – Travel With Me

Misun – Harlot

 

For The Love of Food And Music

On December 5, 2021, in Music, by edwardpan

MUSICAL GASTRONOMY

How do you listen to music? Does it blow past you while you sit intently focused on the screen in front you? Or do you let it waft over you like a breeze carrying the scent of freshly baked bread out of the oven? The point is that there’s no one way to listen, and certainly many ways to appreciate music. Everyone listens to music; even if you live in a bunker awaiting the zombie apocalypse. You should definitely have some good tunes, some good listening music. If you listen attentively, there are parts of a song which regardless of genre, provoke a type of feeling. Whether it’s in the melody, rhythm, or texture of the song, the first thing that strikes you about any song is how it makes you feel. Some music takes you to the past, like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin may take you back.

Similarly, food evokes a familiar feeling. Like the mac and cheese that reminds you of home during the holidays, even when you’re miles away. Remember that cake at your first grade school birthday party? Food envelops you in an array of feelings and memories. Just think, if you could taste your favorite song, or hear a five course meal. What would they taste and sound like?

For me, whenever I smell bay leaves in a soup, it makes me think of Saturday evenings. Every Saturday growing up, there would be soup simmering on the stove for hours. Bay leaves were always part of the soup recipe, with an aroma equally as delicious as the flavor it added. Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson comes to mind, though there was always a Motown artist playing lightly on the radio in the background. That song embodies the feeling of comfort that came along with eating soup on Saturdays. Smokey Robinson’s voice had an airy quality in its falsetto, like the fragrance of spices that filled our whole house. The laidback beat and strings bring to mind the rhythmic bubbling as the soup was stewing on the stove.

What’s in your musical gastronomy mix?

Listen to these tunes and tell us what your musical gastronomy mix would be.

Oddisee – Caprice Down

The Lone Bellow – Teach Me to Know

Timothy Bloom – The Morning After

 

BALLO SUNGLASSES WILL MAKE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH WOOD

BALLO SUNGLASSES, https://www.ballo.co.za/

At the core of every pair of Ballo sunglasses is a combination of recycled paper and off-cut timber laminated together with bio-resin. Every pair of their wooden frames is made by hand. The frames come with 100% polarised lenses or CR39 UV400 revo mirror lenses for enhanced glare reduction and superior eye protection. All made with love in South Africa. Founder Alistair Barnes is committed to sustainability.

  1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?
    I hate fashion. My fashion creds are that I’ve been obsessed with textures and patterns from a young age and have never liked much that I see in the shops, especially when you buy something and wear it twice then it unravels. I am just frustrated with fast fashion and try to make clothes with simple designs and strong fabrics. Form follows function and I build garments to last.
  1. Why did you decide to start Ballo and how are the glasses produced, what materials are being used?
    I didn’t like the way big businesses were run – especially the monopoly that exists in the worldwide sunglass market. At Ballo, we use old machinery and 23 different processes all done by hand to make the glasses – hard materials in frames are all upcycled or recycled (timber offcuts, recycled paper, fabric offcuts), laminated together with bio-resin, lenses are polarised and spring hinges fitted. I like the fact that to make more sunglasses I have to employ more people.
  1. Why is sustainability so important to you?
    I grew up in nature on a farm in the Drakensberg Mountains in the middle of South Africa. Being in touch with nature gives me energy and makes me feel connected and refreshed. All I see around me is humans draining the planet dry and I have chosen to try make the best lifestyle and business decisions to respect and save our planet.
  1. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
    You can’t think outside the box when you’re in the box. So get out.
  1. Describe your personal style. Who are your style icons and why?
    Sustainable Gangster. Yoda – comfort and function are key.
  1. What’s always in your fridge?
    Zucchini, broccoli, parmesan, carrots, hummus.
  1. What three things can’t you live without?
    Meditation, swims in the sea, and dancing.
 

The 8 Beauty Essentials You Need in Your Gym Bag

On December 1, 2021, in Beauty, by edwardpan

As a woman on the go, your life is busy. Your gym routine needs to keep up.  Never wanting anything, including style, to get in the way of a good hardcore workout, you still need an efficient post workout beauty routine with products that are minimalist, multitasking and can get you to your next destination quickly. Here are your must-haves which are just as essential to include in your gym bag as your workout gear.

Here’s What You Need

  1. Dry Shampoo.  Skip washing your hair in the gym shower, especially if you are short on time. Instead pack your bag with a dry shampoo like Dry Bar Triple Sec which will refresh, texturize and volumize all in one step.
  2. Small Hair Dryer.  Wouldn’t it be great if the gym had hair dryers?  Well, until that happens, bring your own like the T3 Featherweight Compact Folding Hair Dryer. This dryer has all the power and capabilities of a larger hair dryer without all of the bulk.
  3. Small Flat Iron.  When quick hair touch ups are in order, do it with flat iron that is small and mighty like the amika Mighty Mini Titanium Styler. This styler will leave your hair smooth and shiny and stores unobtrusively in your gym bag.
  4. Hair Wrap.  We all know what an intense sweat session can do to your hair. Longer hair can be easier to maintain pre- and post-workout simply because you can easily whipped it up into a ponytail or updo. But what if you are rocking a short crop style? Whatever the case, keep those edges and fly-aways in place with a hair wrap. Do it in style with a hair wrap made of soft material that will help to absorb access sweat and protect your hair at the same time with the Silky Wraps Diva Exercise Hair Wrap.
  5. Deodorant.  In case you forgot, here is your friendly reminder. Dove Advance Care Original Clean Antiperspirant Deodorant not only provides deodorant and antiperspirant protection but also contains Nutrium Moisture which helps skin replenish itself from post-shave irritation.
  6. Body Wash.  When wipes won’t do the trick after a killer cardio kickboxing class, use a body wash like Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash. This body wash will cleanse and hydrate at the same time so that you won’t have to carry extra products in your gym bag.
  7. Skincare.  It is imperative to wash your face after a workout. But who wants to lug around a bunch of bottles, tubes and jars of skincare and makeup products? No one. Save space by using  TCS 3-1-1 Quuart Travel Pack to dispense your face wash, moisturizer or other beauty products into.
  8. Tinted MoisturizerNars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 is perfect for providing lightweight moisture and coverage. No one wants to slather on tons of heavy makeup after working out.
 What are your gym essentials? What’s always in your gym bag?
 

What’s For Lunch? 7 Ways To Eat Healthy At Work

On December 1, 2021, in Lifestyle, by edwardpan

Ways To Eat Healthy and Not Lose It At Work

Many people are focused on making better lifestyle choices including making better food choices. There’s eating paleo, becoming vegan or vegetarian, intermittent fasting, eating several meals a day vs 3 meals a day, so on and so forth. The information and the choices on how to maintain one’s health can be overwhelming. For those who may have a profession where you sit for long periods of time, becoming sedentary can become a way of life. This may also be true for students, caretakers and the like. If you are in a space (work, school, or otherwise) with access to vending machines, regular office sweet treats, or awesome happy hours, it is very easy to fall into the habit of eating whatever is available to you.

To stay on track here are 7 ways to eat healthy at work:

1. Always Eat Breakfast

Those who eat breakfast jump start their metabolism, are more alert, have more energy, and actually make healthier food choices throughout the day. Instead of grabbing a chocolate chip muffin on the run, consider re-evaluating your day in such a way that will allow you a few extra minutes before you head out to prepare some oatmeal or a veggie scramble.

2. Get Moving

In addition to those who eat breakfast on a regular basis, those who get some form of a workout in before they start their day approach food differently. No one wants to sabotage what they just did in the gym with food that doesn’t support those fitness efforts. Morning workouts can also help you avoid scheduling conflicts and can also help you to be more alert.

3. Prepare Your Meals Beforehand

How many times have you had every good intention to eat something healthy but then just ate what was available?  It happens to all of us.  If you want to eat healthy at work, food prep is the name of the game. It will definitely help you to stay on track with your eating plan. Taking the time to plan and prepare your meals for the week will help you remain focused on your goal. Take it a step further and portion out your meals in food prep containers so you can grab and go.

4. Don’t Freestyle At The Grocery Store

Plan to go to the grocery store. When you are there, have a list. This will keep you on track and away from random treats ending up in your cart. Depending on the way your grocery store is set up, the healthier items are in the perimeter of the store. Need some inspiration finding delicious healthy meals to prepare for the week?  Consider creating a Pinterest board of meals that interest you. Pinterest is full of ways to eat healthy at work. You can keep up on the latest healthy recipes or watch a short video showing the ingredients that are needed.

5. Keep Healthy Snacks On Hand

There is nothing worse than realizing you are ravenous without a snack stash in reach. This will lead to you eating random things from the vending machine or break room. Keeping healthy snacks in your purse, book bag, desk, or office refrigerator can help you to stay in control when hunger strikes.

6. Avoid Mindless Eating

Ever wonder how the entire box of Cheez-It disappeared down your throat while you were working on the computer?  It’s very easy to do when you are distracted. The same thing can happen when you are eating your lunch while at your desk. Remember to portion out your meals and other snacks while working at your desk. Working against deadlines or having a working lunch is sometimes unavoidable. But it is worth it to step away from your work space to enjoy your lunch at a slower, more mindful pace.

7. Drink More Water

Many times, when you think you are hungry, you are actually dehydrated. So drink up! Get into the habit of drinking a glass of water before and after each meal to avoid overeating. If you are actually hungry, then go ahead and eat.

Staying healthy at work (or anywhere for that matter) is a commitment. It takes discipline and focus, but it can be done. Planning beforehand will help you avoid making unhealthy choices. Have a plan.

As always we want to hear from you.  What is your favorite tip for ways to eat healthy at work?  Please share your tips for how you stay healthy on the go.

 

Smart People Follow These Tips For Staying Healthy

It all starts with that tickle in your throat…

You know how the story goes. You are living life, just working, traveling, and socializing. Next thing you know, you get that feeling in your throat. Then comes the runny nose, coughing and sneezing. Then you are down for the count. In the bed with a stuffy nose, medicine and tissue by your bedside.

Anyone can get sick any time of the year. But wintertime is where we usually see an increase in this all too common scenario of cold and flu.  So what is one to do? Sure we can be reactive and nurse ourselves back to health. But how many of you have ever heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is better than the cure”? By taking a few simple steps, we can decrease our downtime or possibly avoid cold and flu all together.  Continue reading to find out ways to stay healthy this winter.

1. Wash your hands and dry off with disposable towels.

Think about how many things you touch throughout the day before you have a “need” to wash your hands. The flu virus can live on surfaces such as clothing, keyboards, and doorknobs for several hours. So it is important to wash your hands often using antibacterial soap. Keep hand sanitizer nearby when you can’t get to a sink.

2. Stay Away.

From sick people that is. The droplets from coughing and sneezing can travel a considerable distance. These droplets can wreak havoc on the healthy, thus weakening the immune system and making you more susceptible to getting sick.

3. Drink Water.

We all know that water has a multitude of benefits such as keeping skin clear and keeping one regular.  However, dehydration weakens the immune system.  So go ahead and pour yourself a glass of water. It will boost your immunity and flush out your system by ridding your body of all that can make you sick.

4. Eat Healthy.

Don’t depend solely on supplements that promise to boost your health. Make sure your diet is balanced. This means including colorful fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants. Also, include foods that are high in essential fatty acid, such as fish, to help ward off the common cold and flu.

5. Put A Lid On It.

Mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to wear a hat on your head. Most of our body heat escapes from the head. Don’t get tricked into complacency with a mild day sandwiched in between an otherwise brutally cold week. Keep your eye on the weather report to inform you when you should layer up and when you can take some of those layers off.

6. Get Some Fresh Air.

Even during the winter months, occasionally open the windows (or at least crack them). Doing so gives fresh air the chance to flow in and decrease the chance of airborne viruses making you their host.

7. Stop Stressing And Get Your Rest.

Your body restores itself when you get a good night’s rest. So be sure to get those 7-8 hours. This period of sleep can help your body fight off infection.

These are just a few of the many ways to stay healthy this winter. But what if after all of these precautions you still fall ill?  It happens to the best of us. Keep your chicken soup on hand, drink green tea, and explore the benefits of using raw garlic and echinacea in your daily routine.  If your symptoms last more that two days and are unresponsive to your over-the-counter medicines, see a doctor.

 

7 Questions For Jo Skelton, Peep Eyewear

On November 30, 2021, in Fashion, by edwardpan

Jo Skelton
Peep Eyewear
https://www.peepeyewear.co.uk/

Jo Skelton is obsessed with vintage (a woman after my own heart). She’s been a fan of vintage since she was a little girl. So it’s no wonder that she was drawn to starting Peep Eyewear, a shop that sells vintage eyeglasses fitted with modern lenses. We touched base with the vintage love to find out more about her and her dedication to making the past new and sustainable fashion.

  1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?
    I’ve always had an obsession with vintage. I’ve been scouting and collecting vintage since I was a school girl. I thrived on standing out from the crowd and wearing one-of-a-kind pieces that nobody else had. I saw vintage online, but few were doing it justice and I wanted to create a brand worthy of these special pieces, not just open another vintage stall.
  1. Why did you decide to start Peep Eyewear and how are the glasses produced?
    I decided to start Peep Eyewear because I wanted a creative outlet that let me indulge my passion for vintage eyewear where I could also work flexibly around my family. It’s great fun finding frames and choosing tints. We chose to repurpose fabulous, often handmade, vintage pieces over mass production. We source frames from all over the land. Bringing them home to our workshop where we recondition them; professionally polishing and reshaping, before fitting with modern lenses and tints. It helps having a hubby in the Optical industry!
  1. Why is sustainability so important to you?
    We feel the need to do our bit. By making even small changes to become sustainable and raise awareness, we can make positive contributions to the future of our planet and our children. Once your eyes have been opened, it’s impossible to go back. It’s a work in progress for us. We’re looking at how we can evolve the business to become even more sustainable.
  1. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
    Hold your nerve. Stay true to yourself and your vision of your brand and business. Keep the faith.
  1. Describe your personal style. Who are your style icons and why?
    Simple, casual, and contemporary with a dash of quirk. Jackie O for her classic style and Iris Apfel for fabulousness.
  1. What’s always in your fridge?
    Eggs and avocados (excellent for eyes!)
  1. What three things can’t you live without?
    Family, sunglasses, and something to read.
 

The 5 White Tops That Will Up Your Fashion Game

On November 30, 2021, in Fashion, by edwardpan

Fab White Tops That Your Closet Needs

If you’re like me, you can never have too many white tops. White tops are must-have staples that every girl needs in her closet. If you have a good selection of white tops, you can quickly pull together an outfit for work, for brunch, or just to hit the supermarket. But finding white tops that are don’t look like every other generic tops can be a task. Lucky for you, I’ve pulled together five of my favorite sustainable white tops that will easily pair with all of your delicious goodies in your closet.

This soft and comfy simple white top by Wildlife Works is made from 100% organic cotton. It is hand-cut and sewn in Kenya, supporting sustainable jobs around the Wildlife Works animal sanctuary. Available at Modavanti

If you are going to shop at H&M, consider their Conscious Collection. This long-sleeved jersey top has a touch of spandex for great stretch and is made from organic cotton. Available at HM

Not only does this white button-down top have a dashing vegan-leather collar and cuffs, it also has a gorgeous split back look. Delikate Rayne has made it totally with PVC-free vegan materials. Available at Ethica

You will not want to hide this posh white top under a jacket. The sleeves have exquisite lace details and top notch tailoring. This top will totally up your work shirt game. Available at Rêve En Vert

I love how delicate and dainty this top from PeopleTree is. It has clean lines and a simple belt that will surely give you that curvaceous look that all girls love. Made from 100% organic Fairtrade certified cotton. Available at PeopleTree

 

A Seersucker Suit Makes the American Man

Americana or “American culture” is defined by the products and ideas with which it is synonymous. Coca-Cola, the “Stars and Stripes”, blue jeans and red cups (for some strange reason) are k markers of American culture around the world and typically the most seen items at international phenomena known as America Parties. These events are exactly what the name entails: social gatherings where attendees dress, talk, drink, and party like Americans. As an American, it is kind of strange to see how our culture manifests itself in others, and at times I wonder, “What defines the quintessential American?” As a sartorial fanatic, of course, this question is framed by discussion about men’s fashion. So, the real question is, “How does the quintessential American man dress?”

We have to begin with classics like the Navy Blazer, the Khaki Chino, and the Penny Loafer. Other classics like the white T-Shirt or Blue Jeans are synonymous with the quintessential American man as well, but is this where it ends? Certainly, the quintessential American man cannot be sartorially defined by 5 or 6 pieces. That is yet to be seen, but one piece stands out above the others as quintessentially American, in my mind, and that is the Seersucker Suit. This thin, all-cotton fabric suit originated in British India during the early colonial period and was favored over other materials in warmer weather. The Seersucker Suit became an instant staple in the States, especially in the South where warmer weather existed throughout the year. It’s taken on a number of cultural meanings over the years: innately contemptible during the 1920’s, in military uniforms briefly in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and innately contemptible again in the 1980’s. The US Senate even held Seersucker Thursday from 1996 to June 2012, where Senators and their staffers dressed in Seersucker to “bring a little Southern charm to the Nation’s Capitol”. But I beg to differ. Seersucker suits have undeniable swag. Every well-dressed man knows that.

The Seersucker Suit is definitely in the closet of the quintessential American man and here’s why:

A man in a Seersucker is about his business but also ready to kick-back.

A man in a Seersucker is automatically assumed to be a gentleman.

A man in a Seersucker is the coolest individual wherever he is by presence alone.

Summer is upon us, and the man with the Seersucker is the man with a plan. Besides, what else would you wear your suede white oxford shoes with?