Pho, Boba + Kpop Debates

You know a restaurant is a hit when you drive to a whole ‘nother city just to eat there again. Originally, we went to Chopstix because my sister was craving bubble tea. But at Chopstix we got so much more than just boba. When we first walked in, the cutest fish tank stood by the door. Instead of fish, though, it held pretty succulents and cacti. Further in, there was a lightbox with the name of the restaurant spelled out.

When we were seated, the party next to us was having a heated debate. They asked us what we thought, “BTS or EXO?” My sister, wearing her Love Yourself Tear t-shirt firmly defended Bangtan Soyeondan. But while I love BTS, I of course had to defend EXO. Honestly, meeting other kpop fans was a great way to start our meal: we debated over the most attractive member of Got7 and Seventeen vs. Wanna One.

Finally, we began to peruse our menus. I settled on Chicken Pho, my dad ordered Shrimp Pho, my mom chose Basil Fried Rice, and my sister selected Beef Bibimbap. And of course we all ordered tea, I chose the Café Mocha Milk Tea with boba.

They make the tea fresh and let me tell you, it’s the best bubble tea I’ve ever had. The Café Mocha had a subtle coffee flavor, but nothing overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet and of course the packaging was adorable.

My pho was pho-nomenal! So warm and flavorful and I was really feeling the ginormous bowl it came in. I also tasted some of my sister’s leftover bibimbap and it was spectacular. The perfect ratio of spiciness and the rice was cooked perfectly.

We all had such a satisfying experience, we actually drove back to Chattanooga to return to Chopstix. This time I ordered Beef Crispy Noodles and Lavender Bubble Tea. At first, I was unsure about the crispy noodles because they were the texture of wontons. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to eat a huge plate of that texture, but the vegetables and meat were so delicious I couldn’t stop eating even if I had wanted to. Then I figured out that if I mixed the noodles into the broth, they softened to a more preferred texture. The dish was amazing and the leftovers were even better the next day.

My lavender tea was spectacular. It had a definite lavender flavor but it wasn’t medicinal. I honestly love this restaurant so much. From the décor to the service (we had amazing waiters/waitresses’ both times) and of course the food. Everything was perfect and I would fully recommend it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What’s a restaurant you’d drive to another city for?

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ATL in 24 Hours: Dumplings & SCAD Shenanigans

My college friend (omg I have one of those now) recently had a birthday so our family and her family traveled to Atlanta to celebrate her birthday with her. We ate good food, broke a few rules, and had an all around great time, all in less than 24 hours.

It started with a trip to Savannah College of Art and Design, which, I must say, has one of the most aesthetic campuses ever. Art is everywhere, and everything is art. Touring the campus, we gushed over the library, sat in the swing seats, and took a bunch of photos.

Then we went to SCAD Pad which is a student, alumni, and faculty coordinated outdoor design space. It reminded me of those houses on HGTV: an interior design buff’s dream.

As we took silly photos in front of the yellow SCAD background and went crazy in the swivel chairs a security guard appeared out of no where.

“I’m guessing you guys are visiting campus.”

“Yes, are we doing something we’re not supposed to?”

“Well, SCAD Pad is only open for special events.”

“Oh! we’re so sorry we didn’t know. I guess we’ll leave now.”

“Yeah, it’s ok, we were watching you on the security cameras.”

So, we were kicked out of SCAD Pad in the nicest possible way… and the security guards probably watch our footage just for fun.

After our illegal but successful tour, we went back into the main building and passed through the security checkpoints (this school has so much security).

The security guard at the entrance asked my sister and I our ages. We replied 16 and 12. Welllllll, turns out we weren’t even supposed to be visiting the school after 5…

Leaving behind the school where we’re probably on a watch list now, we went to Krogg’s Street Market.

What I love about Atlanta is that no matter how many times I visit (and I go there pretty often), I always discover something new and amazing. Krogg’s Street Market was bustling, I could people watch there for hours and still not fully inhale all the culture that exists there. Making the rounds, we attempted to figure out what we wanted to eat: there was sushi, dumplings, pizza, barbecue, sandwiches, Bahn Mi, and any other food you could imagine. I settled on Gu’s Dumplings and I ordered the pork Zhong Dumplings.

The dumplings were the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and tangy. They were chewy but slightly crispy at the edges and they kind of melted in your mouth. The bubble tea that I ordered to accompany them was amazing too: not overly sweet and with the perfect amount of boba.

Krogg’s was amazing, I’d definitely return…and I’d go back to SCAD for a visit if they let me 😉

Stay fly,

Akilah

Am I a Stereotypical Bookworm?

A few months ago, Cait from Paper Fury wrote a blog post that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. She examined 10 bookworm stereotypes and noted whether she identified with them. I was inspired to do the same thing, so let’s see how stereotypical I really am!

1. BOOKWORMS WEAR GLASSES.

True, I do wear glasses, all the time. I can’t see a thing without them because I had my lenses removed when I was a baby.

2. BOOKWORMS DRINK TEA AND WHILE READING.

Well, I love tea but I don’t drink it while reading, I have done it before but I no longer have the leisure time to sit in a window seat with a riveting novel and a mug of tea, so I’ll give it a half point.

3. BOOKWORMS THINK ABOUT WHAT THEY READ AND GET VERY SMART.

Now, while I don’t know everything (or even a lot of things) I do believe that reading has made me more intelligent. I try to read books about a wide array of different things, and since I’m an introspective researcher at heart I have to know as much as I can about a subject I’m passionate about.

4. BOOKWORMS HOARD BOOKS.

Surprisingly, I actually don’t like buying books so I’m definitely not a book hoarder. I’d rather go to the library than buy a book, and spend that money on clothes, skincare, Kpop albums, nail polish, stationery etc. To be honest, I used to loathe buying books, now I’ll buy one occasionally if it’s a new release I’m looking forward to, or if I’ve read the book, love it, and want to highlight/take notes in it but usually, no book buying for me.

5. BOOKWORMS HAVE NO OTHER HOBBIES OR A LIFE, JUST BOOKS.

This statement is the least accurate from the entire list. Books aren’t even my biggest passion. I like fashion, food (eating + baking), music, journaling, Kpop etc. along with books. It’s hard for me to imagine someone only having books as a passion because I’m into so many other things.

6. BOOKWORMS WANT TO BE WRITERS.

I’ll give this one a half point. Because fashion, music, or food journalist is on my list of possible careers but right now fashion stylist is at the top. I definitely don’t want to be a fiction author, however.

7. BOOKWORMS PREFER PHYSICAL BOOKS TO EBOOKS.

Yes. This is 100% true, I actually can’t stand ebooks. All the articles, blog posts, and videos I consume on my phone, laptop, or iPad definitely make me want a break to hold a physical book in my hands. Also, I’ve noticed that I retain more from physical books than I have whenever the rare opportunity is that I’ll read an ebook.

8. BOOKWORMS ARE ALL INTROVERTS

I am an introvert. However, since I’m an INFJ I show tons of extrovert qualities. Usually the stereotype is that bookworms are painfully shy and would rather read than socialize. This is definitely not true for me: hands down I’d always prefer a party, trip, concert, etc to staying home and reading. I’m definitely the more “let’s’ go out and do something” type of introvert if it’s with people I like.

9. BOOKWORMS LOVE GOING TO BOOK STORES.

A good book store is a joy to enter. It’s like having a whole new world of books to discover, so this is completely true for me. If you’re in the Nashville area I recommend Parnassus, it’s lit.

10. BOOKWORMS THINK THE BOOK IS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE.

Duhhhh! I do usually like the movie versions, but there are just so many details that there isn’t enough time to include in a movie, that you glean from reading the book.

***

That’s the last of the statements and my final score is 7/10, that seems pretty accurate. Let me know your score in the comments!
Also, follow me on Instagram: @theakilah_grace if you wanna know what I’m currently reading!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

BTS IDOL Fashion Analysis

The final installment of the Love Yourself Series is out! IDOL is amazing, personally I like it even better than Fake Love and DNA (I still love those songs though). Today, we’re going to talk about the symbolism and themes exemplified in the fashion of this video.

I did a similar thing with Fake Love and since I had a ball writing and researching for it, we’re doing it again!

IDOL4

As I watched this the first time, I definitely got Afro pop vibes from it, and this was shown in the suits they wore in the opening and closing shots. The slim fit, bright colors, and busy patterns scream Nigerian street style. I totally dig it since it’s something unlike what BTS has done in the past.

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They cut to a scene where the members are decked out in khaki colored outfits. It reminded me of a safari…but like a high fashion safari. The monochromatic color palette contrasts starkly with the vibrant suits, possibly showing the constrains that society has put on BTS (and everyone). That scene is rather bland, showing the way being in the spotlight can water down one’s personality.

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During Yoongi’s verse, he wears a sweater with Snow White on it. In the Brother’s Grimm version of Snow White, the evil queen has a mirror which she asks continually who the fairest in the land is. When the answer is Snow White she flies into a fit of rage and attempts to kill Snow White. This sweater seems to be countering that vain and jealous view of loving yourself demonstrated by the queen, by focusing on Snow White, who wasn’t threatened by the queen and lived her life despite her antagonist’s attacks.

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Speaking of antagonists, J-Hope wears a yellow Bugs Bunny sweater (which I really want btw). Bugs Bunny is infamous for continually outsmarting his antagonists and winning nearly every time. This reference calls back to some earlier lyrics “you can’t stop me from loving myself”, No matter how many times the other characters try to outsmart Bugs, he wins in the end. Just like no matter how many times haters try to get BTS down, they’ll always love themselves in the end.

 

Next let’s talk about Tae. In much of the video he’s spotted in this look:

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Does it remind you of anything?

How about this one from Dope:

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Going from black plastic frames to gold wire ones, shorts to slacks, and a bow tie to necktie show growth and maturation. Even though they’re quite different, these outfits have the same core. Part of loving yourself is allowing yourself to grow yet keeping the core of who you are. Also, the colors of the IDOL look are definitely more vibrant and bright, showing that with growth comes more freedom and confidence.

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Freedom and confidence are huge themes in the fashion of this video. The bold mixture of prints show a level of “I don’t really care what people say about me, I’m going do what I want.”

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Finally, in one scene, the members are seen sporting long sating robes and loose-fitting ensembles. The aesthetic is quite similar to Blood Sweat & Tears with it’s luxury, and Fake Love with it’s saturation and dark hues. Where it differs in a meaningful way is the silhouette: these oversized robes give a feel of relaxation and regality, freedom and confidence. It seems as if BTS is saying: “Yeah, sometimes loving yourself is difficult and dark but guess what, we’re royalty and we’re comfortable with who we are.”

Stay fly,

~Akilah

If you like this post…then ‘like’ this post!

Let me know what you thought of IDOL in the comments.

Follow me on Instagram @theakilah_grace and check out my story for more general fangirling.

 

Sources:

My Favorite Dance Practice Outfits

One of the millions of reasons I’m obsessed with Kpop is the fashion. Even when they’re practicing, the outfits rival stage ensembles. So, today I’m sharing  5 of my favorite dance practice outfits. Please keep in mind that these are in no particular order and there’s certainly many more than five, but we’d be here all night if I went through all of them. Also, appreciate my screenshotting skills because I tried hard for you guys.

 

Jungkook – 뱁새 (Baepsae/Silver Spoon)

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Perfection in fabric, that’s what this outfit is. The cut of the jeans is quite unexpected in a world of skinny jeans. The white button down riffs on that classic work-wear silhouette but looks breezier. And JK’s beloved Timbs truly pull together the look.

 

Minghao (The8) – Crazy in Love

I’m not always a fan of extremely long t-shirts like this one, but Minghao makes it work. The proportions are balanced because of his fitted joggers, and while I’m not a huge fan of his socks being pulled up so far, it does keep the look more streamlined. Unfortunately, I can’t for the life of me, find this shirt. I’m in love with the way it looks and wanted to see the smaller print of what it says. So, if you happen to find some details, let me know in the comments!

 

Lucas – Boss

Lucas_Boss

I almost did TY’s outfit from Boss, and while it is sensational, Lucas’ outfit really draws me. It’s simple: a white long-sleeve, black jeans, gold chain, and Adidas, but it’s styled so expertly. The top is tucked into the jeans and the jeans are belted, the gold chain is an excellent touch and the shoes tie in the sleek black and white color palette.

 

Sehun – The Eve

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Again, while simple, this outfit makes a big impact. The wash of the jeans are that perfect medium denim and offer nice contrast to the black hat, tee, and shoes.

 

Jin – Blood Sweat & Tears

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Black on black looks *NCT plays in the background* are a staple in dance practices but Jin brings it to another level. Although it’s a button-down, the shirt doesn’t have a stiff quality, but rather hangs perfectly relaxed. Because this look is so sleek, I appreciate the minimalism of the one hole in the black jeans. Also, it looks like his shoes are suede, which brings in an unexpected texture. This outfit contrasts amazingly with Jin’s pink hair…it’s just a whole look.

 

Let me know what your favorite dance practice fits are!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

Lincoln Square Pancake House // Indy

Recently, I took a vacation with my family to Chicago. It was amazing to be back. Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit because the art and food scenes are spectacular. But don’t think that there aren’t amazing food destinations along the way.

In Indianapolis we found a glorious place to stop for breakfast: Lincoln Square Pancake House. When I tell you that this place has the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my entire life, I’m not kidding. The outside edges are slightly crispy and the middle melts away to bliss. They’re buttery but not drenched, they’re golden, they’re soft, in short, they’re heaven.

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Along with the heavenly pancakes, I ordered the German skillet: smoked sausage, farm-fresh scrambled eggs served on potato pancakes with cheddar cheese & homemade sausage gravy. It was delicious. I consider myself pretty picky about gravy, I love it if it’s done right, but if not…I don’t play that. This gravy was bomb. Everything in the dish was seasoned well, but even with the gravy nothing was too salty.

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Not only was the food a win, but our server went above and beyond. She asked us how our food was and listened to our suggestions and took them to the kitchen. She was so attentive and even made some small talk with us. All in all it was a great experience I would recommend you stop by!

Stay fly,

Akilah

 

Currently: Love Yourself: Answer & Rose Gold Converse

Heyyyyyy,

I’m sorry that I’ve been gone for a while. I have a few dope posts in the works so stay tuned for those. In the meantime…here’s what I’m currently doing:

Watching: The K-drama Miss Hammurabi. It’s probably my favorite drama so far (I don’t know though Andante and Hwarang were great too…) But anyway, we’re on episode 13 of 16 and it’s the perfect mix of emotion, humor, and politics. I’m super fascinated by the look at Korean society and their justice system.

Listening: To Mahalia’s I Wish I Missed My Ex and Years & Years’ Don’t Panic. They’re amazing songs you should listen too!

Reading: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which they think I’ve stolen from the library because I’ve had it for so long…

Wearing: My new rose gold Converse

Looking Forward: To my new phone coming tomorrow!

Excited: For BTS’ Love Yourself: Answer (yep, I pre-ordered it!) Let me know in the comments what songs you predict will be on the album.

Stay fly,

Akilah

Favorite Albums of 2018 (So Far)

record

In which I fulfill my dream of being a music writer, and share my favorite albums of 2018’s first half in no particular order…

Positive

Artist: Pentagon

Genres: Kpop; Khip-hop

Release Date: April 2

Favorite Tracks: Do it for Fun; Shine; Off-Road

In the past, I’ve never been able to fall in love with Pentagon’s B-side tracks, and thus the rest of their albums. Although their title tracks always stand out I’ve been underwhelmed by the rest of the songs. Positive changed that. Each and every song on this album is magical, from the infectious and high-energy Shine, to the gritty hip-hop line’s Do it for Fun, to the acoustic choir infused Let’s Do it Together and every track in between. It’s an all around good-feeling album that explores a plethora of different sounds.

The Kids Are Alright

Artist: Chloe X Halle

Genres: R&B; Indie

Release Date: March 23

Favorite Tracks: Happy Without Me; Baby on a Plane; Fake

I’ve been a fan of this sister duo since they were doing covers on YouTube. Now that they’ve released an EP, mixtape, and now full-length studio album under Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, I can say I’m still a fan. We are graced with Chloe’s melodiously deep alto and Halle’s piercingly bright soprano that compliment each other so well. The Kids Are Alright is an album that’s decidedly Generation Z. Rather than fitting into the mold of traditional R&B, it dips into Indie, Hip-Hop, and even Rock at some points. Lyrically, Chloe x Halle exemplify our upcoming generation with lyrics that moan about a broken society but ultimately believe that “there are still cool people in the world”.

 

Blooming Days

Artist: EXO-CBX

Genres: Kpop; Kr&b

Release Date: April 10

Favorite Tracks: Sweet Dreams; Thursday; Blooming Day

Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin have been a dynamic trio since the beginning of EXO’s first sub-unit. Blooming Days, however, really drives home just how much musical chemistry they have. The album’s days-of-the-week concept is fresh without feeling contrived and the decidedly R&B direction feels just right for this sub-unit. There are slow melancholy tracks like Monday, sweet laid back tracks like Playdate, and of course those classic EXO flirty numbers like Blooming Day and Vroom Vroom. Each member gets to shine in his own unique way and we get a front-row seat to see who EXO-CBX truly is.

 

Lost & Found

Artist: Jorja Smith

Genres: R&B; Soul

Release Date: June 8

Favorite Tracks: Teenage Fantasy; Blue Lights; Don’t Watch Me Cry

When I first heard Jorja Smith’s voice I was instantly hooked on her deep soulful tone. Her music reminded me of Adele’s: longing, mournful, and tinged with heartbreak. But it was charged with wokeness and social commentary. Lost & Found continues in that vein. But not only do we hear her beautiful tones we hear expert lyricism especially in her Lifeboats Freestyle. Each track is unique in it’s lyrics and music but they paint a cohesive picture because of the longing that is evident in each. Longing for lost love, satisfying truth, and a just world.

 

Love Yourself Tear

Artist: BTS

Genres: Kpop; Kr&b; Khip-hop

Release Date: May 18

Favorite Tracks: The Truth Untold; Paradise; Anpanman

In this 3rd studio album from BTS we get the best elements of the first two: that hip-hop aggression of Dark & Wild, and that introspective longing of Wings. This album shows the growth of BTS while still staying within that beautiful “Bangtan style”. This is exemplified subtly in how Suga whispers his name before his verses, how the intro track is completely in Korean, and how we have past and current songs connected like Attack on Bangtan and Anpanman. Although this release isn’t a concept album, it still stays committed to it’s theme of exploring the dark side of love. Thus, the album is decidedly darker in tone than Love Yourself: Her, with more of an R&B leaning. It explores Latin pop sounds in Airplane pt. 2, a tasteful use of autotune in Outro: Tear, and bumping electronic beats in Paradise. Tear also provides a space for every single member to shine, I definitely hear the vocalists’ growth in conveying emotion, and the rappers’ growth in embracing and honing their distinct style. Lyrically, BTS uses inspiration from folklore, fairytales, and personal experiences to craft a world in which we can loose ourselves.

 

Check out the playlist here:

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

 

Author’s Notes & Aux Cords: Animal Farm

So, I’m back with another Author’s Notes & Aux Cords because they’re just so much fun to write! If you missed my first one check it out here. And, you know the drill: beware of spoilers!

Today’s book is Animal Farm by George Orwell, hands-down my favorite required reading for my British Literature course of sophomore year. It’s a satirical novel, telling the story of a farm run by an oppressive farmer. The animals decide to take control of their situation and overthrow Mr. Jones, the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, assume authoritative roles and chaos ensues. This story tells the underlying story of a totalitarian government and a revolution. But it tells those truths using a classic animal story reminiscent of Charlotte’s Web or something similar. The narrative of Animal Farm tells transcends to any time period and any governmental system. It’s a quick read that’s sure to change your life. So, let’s look at the playlist!

Freedom | Lecrae ft. N’Dambi

“I’ma go pursue my happiness, they told me it was free
But I’m still payin’ for it, I’m indebted to this thing”

The animals on Manor Farm are fed up with life under Mr. Jones, so they stage a rebellion and take over the farm. After grasping their freedom, they believe happiness will follow. However, years later, they’re still oppressed and working harder than ever under the rule of Napoleon the pig.

Wake Me Up | B.A.P

“자각해 타락해버린 진실
분열된 주체 속의 껍질”

“Be aware of the corrupt truth
And the outer layer of the broken subjects”

Napoleon lives off of broken subjects and corrupt truth. The animals aren’t aware of his lies and they’re vulnerable. They’ve been hurt for so long that they want answers, and Napoleon comes along at the right time and in the right way, providing empty solutions

Alexander Hamilton | Hamilton: An American Musical

“Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came”

Because many of the farm animals can’t read, the pigs can keep changing the commandments of animalism to uphold their motives. In addition, the animals neglect to pass down their history to their offspring. Eventually, there are young animals that don’t remember life under Mr. Jones or the rebellion. Some of the animals’ grief and oppression could be solved if they knew their history and knew how to read.

Get It Together | India Arie

“Dark future ahead of me
That’s what they said
I’d be starving if I ate all the lies they fed”

Believing Squealer, the animals consume the propaganda that tells them they’re better off than before. When in reality they’re starving while the pigs are getting fat, filling them with fear of the future.

No More Dream | BTS

“But 사실은 I dun have any big dreams
하하 난 참 편하게 살어
꿈 따위 안 꿔도 아무도 뭐라 안 하잖어
전부 다다다 똑가같이
나처럼 생각하고 있어”

“But actually, I don’t have any big dreams
Haha, I live quite comfortably
Even if I don’t dream, no one says anything
Everyone is thinking
the same way as me”

Gone are the days when the animals had ambitions for a better life. Now, the citizens of Animal Farm have lost their dreams and are eating the mass of lies that the pigs feed them. None of them question, none of them dare to think differently, none of them refuse the lies, they all think the same thoughts.

Clarity | Andy Mineo

“All I, all I want is clarity, clarity
‘Cause all of my heroes are frauds just like me, just like me
So let every man be a liar, let only God be truth
And all of your heroes are frauds just like you”

At the end of the narrative, the animals witness the pigs, who spoke ill of humans, the pigs, who promised a better life, the pigs, who led them to their future, turn into men right before their eyes. Sadly, the animals’ heroes become frauds in front of them.

This book is amazing and I could fangirl about it all day so leave something in the comments if you’re a fan of Animal Farm.

Here’s the playlist, I’d encourage you to take a listen even if you don’t like Animal Farm because these are good quality bops.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Shopping Kpop Idol Closets

I know that almost every post has been kpop and fashion related lately but, I’m just in a mood right now so I hope you like it!

So, contrary to the title I actually didn’t get to shop in an idol’s closet but if you’re an idol reading this hit me up. Instead, this is a wishlist of things that I would steal if I happened to be best friends with some of the biggest names in Kpop right now. Also, all of these are from boy groups because, as you know if you’ve been following me for a while, I only stan boy groups. Plus, I just like that aesthetic a little more. So, here are the items I would cop:

Minghao’s “Something & Associate” hoodie

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To be honest I’d take every hoodie in the kpop industry but I especially like this one because it’s just fun. Also, the classic black and white is perfect.

 

Taehyung’s orange belt

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This belt would add spice to so many different outfits, I especially envision it with a white button down, white jeans, and white sneakers and this belt for a pop of color.

 

Shownu’s “Art is Fraudulent” t-shirt

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The message on this shirt reminds me of how people will try to control messages by censoring art because it’s dangerous. Art is fraudulent/deceptive sometimes in it’s beauty and it’s importance because it’s world-changing. I tried not to start preaching about art. Anyway, I love this shirt, send it to me please.

 

Who knows, maybe my next post won’t be Kpop or fashion related?

Stay fly,

~Akilah