Pleats

Faux Fur + Perfect Presents

My brother hasn’t always known what to get me for Christmas. We’re 15 years apart and we don’t live in the same house anymore so we honestly don’t know each other that well. The best example of this disconnect was an Elmo backpack when I was at least 5 years removed from being into Elmo, So, in the more recent years I’ve asked for money or we’ve gone to the mall together to get what I want.

This past Christmas when he asked me what I wanted, I sent a link to the exact thing. In the back of my mind I knew though, that he wasn’t into online shopping and would probably give me something else. I was nervous and just hoped for a gift card or something. But his “ok I got ya” text put me at ease a little.

Fast forward to our Christmas celebration. He handed me a shirt box: way too big for a gift card. “Hey, give him some credit,” I told myself, “it could be good this year.” and it was. I opened the box to find a muted blush faux fur stole. It was gorgeous. But even more than that it was a gift that showed he knew at least something about what I liked and what my style was.

I styled that faux fur stole with a pink jacket and white shirt for the first time. I’m excited to see what other looks I can create with this piece. It was an amazing Christmas gift.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

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Plots

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmad

I was pacing the shelves in my library a few weeks ago, ecstatic to find myself completely alone in the YA section, when I stumbled upon Down and Across. I’d seen this book on a list of YA books by authors of color, and now it’s blue-green spine was staring back at me. I decided to check it out.

Saaket Ferdowsi aka Scott hasn’t been able to stick with much of anything in his life. So, while his parents are in Iran he decides to leave his Philly internship to chase down a D.C. grit professor. What ensues is a lot of growth, some pain, and of course grit. Grit is defined as courage, resolve, and strength of character. My dad had brought up this concept to me a few years ago and recommended I watch a Ted Talk on it so I was familiar with the concept. This book dealt expertly with how grit applies to real life without making it dry or too academic.

Mostly, this was executed by our main character Saaket/Scott. He’s honestly just a normal 16 year old and the first person narrative exemplifies that, we’re in his head. We get to be first hand witnesses to his irritations and excitements. We see the internal struggles he faces as the child of immigrants and his childhood wounds. He’s witty, honest, and sometimes deep.

And it’s not just Saaket, Ahmadi shows expert character building in each member of this cast. Fiora: the fierce female lead with family wounds. Trent: the caring friend with a plot twist. And Cecily Mallard: the transformative Georgetown professor.

The only character I didn’t like was Jeanette. She’s a token Christian girl who’s a complete jerk. As a Christian, I was highly irritated with how one-note she was: racist, homophobic, clingy, irritating, the whole nine yards. I’m wondering if she stemmed from a negative experience the author had with a Christian. I hope not, but if so, I hope he and all his readers understand that not all Christians are jerks like that. Just like everyone else, we hate to be generalized about.

Stepping away from characters, I want to draw attention to a main theme in the book: crossword puzzles. I’m not a fan of crossword puzzles by any means, but I loved Ahmadi’s use of them in this book. They didn’t simply provide an activity for the characters to engage in, but they were symbolic to the narrative. The crosswords represented life and fate, the intersections of people, and the things in life we can’t control. They showed order and creativity, a set of rows and columns but with infinite possibilities.

Truly, this book was a fun read and I’m stoked for Ahmadi’s 2019 release!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Have you read Down & Across? What stereotypical characters irritate you?

Life · Palates · travel

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?

Life · Palates · travel

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

Plots

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

Music · Pleats

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!

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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:

Dope1

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:

Music · Pleats

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

Sehun_TheEve

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

Jin_BS&T

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