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A 30 something blogging about her love affair with Fashion.....among other things!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

When after work turns into a Fashion shoot

  I went to my first "After work" the other day. For those who do not know what that is, "After work" is when colleagues get together for drinks or diner after work. Oups! I forgot to tell you! I started working for an international aid agency recently. I finally found myself a job that I also happen to like. Praise the Lord! I have been working for the last few months. It is challenging but I get to learn so many new things. And the best part are the people I get to work with particulalry the ladies. I enjoy them, every single one of them for they all have interesting personalities. They are also hilarious. I spend my days laughing. And I could not be more grateful to God for that!

Since two of my co workers were leaving (sad part of my job: people do not tend to work there for a long time), we decided to surprise them with an "After work"/ farewell party. We went to Marina Bay, which is a seaside hotel with a fabulous pool located in a hip area called "Almadies". Other former co workers joined us as well. We settled outside where we could admire the pool view under the shade.  We started complaining about work as usual until someone pointed out that we should stop talking about it. Then we ordered drinks and snacks. I had the "Bouyakah" juice which was a refreshing mix of Baobab fruit juice and mint among other things (Absoeffinglutlydelicious!!!) and some salmon avocado maki sushi that melted in my mouth....Yum!!!

We were chatting loud about everything: men (some handsome dudes were passing by!), how hard it was to find a good one, politics, sex, kids, how rude our waiter was...well everything with laughter.


Scarf - old
Polka dot jacket worn as a cape ( was way too hot to be worn properly) - Max fashion India
Ruffle top - Westside India
Pants - thrifted (HM)
Shoes - thrifted
Earrings - HLM market

 
Peep the Henna I had done for Eid

All of a sudden, we started taking pictures. There were group shots at first then gradually some of us started getting into pairs to take blog worthy pictures. I have to admit that the decor was incinting us to do so: bright vibrant paint, pool and beach, cute flower paths, nice wicker outdoor furniture....Originally I did not want to take outfit pics because I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself. But I had to join in on the fun as well. Friends of mine took my  pictures with their phones (mine is crappy). By the time I arrived home I had received 155 pictures on my phone ( my phone has no memory left). That is how crazy we were that day.


We separated at around 7:30 pm for some ladies lived far away and wanted to get home early. I did not  feel like leaving because I was having way too much fun. I caught a ride with a former colleague. I made a mental note to come back in that marvellous place again maybe with the kids. They would love it as well!!


The Bouyakah juice 


The salmon avovado maki sushi with pickled ginger


Caught laughing out loud!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ramadan Lethargy


Hello dears.

How are you?

And for those fasting, how is your Ramadan so far?

We are in the last week of Ramadan and I am feeling great. I cannot complain.

However I could not help but notice a certain lethargy that has engulfed the town and the people living in it. since the beginning of Ramadan. For starters people go to work later than usual because they are still trying to catch some sleep between the time they eat and pray in the morning and the time they go to work. It is harder particularly for women who wake up early to cook something for their families. Even when you get organized and cook something the night before going to bed, you still have to get up earlier to heat it up. And most women I know are not content on cooking something simple, like ordinary breakfast. They want to make elaborate meals that would please their families. They feel the pressure more than anybody else, and they sleep also less.

This lack of sleep can have some serious consequences on the body and the mind when one is at work. We find it hard to concentrate. We are on the edge because we lack both sleep and food. Therefore a little thing can set us off. In the city, people are at their worst when it is rush hour as everyone tries to get home before dark. At 4:30 pm already there is a huge traffic. One can get stuck in a traffic jam for 45 minutes. It is nice when you are sitting in an air conditioned car, but when you are standing in an overcrowded bus with no air, that still has a long way to go before you arrive at your destination, your nerves are tensed. It is the time you often witness people raise voices at strangers, swear at each other and even fight. They lack the endurance to bear it all, which is the meaning of Ramadan itself.




 
 
Blouse and top set - old from my Mom that I altered
Golden mules - HLM market
Golden scarf - Pune, India
The only area I have seen booming is at the markets, especially during the week end. Women, who enjoy the fact that they do not have to cook lunch, go shopping. Granted no one is there in the wee hours of the morning, but from midday till late, people are shopping for goodies they will eat later, fabrics and accessories to get ready not only for Ramadan but for Eid. For some reason or another, Senegalese people think that during Ramadan, they should dress in traditional attire. It is somewhat due to the fact that traditional clothes are considered modest. Women and men alike would rival in wearing their best casual traditional attire to the office but also to visit family and friends during that time. I have nothing against it. Actually I am all for it. My only issue is that some of the modern Senegalese attire is not modest at all from over the shoulder tight fitted dresses to sheer lacy peplum tops, those outfits can be quite sexy. To me, the whole purpose of Ramadan is then lost.
 

As for myself, I do lack the sleep because I usually do not sleep much anyway. I am hungry and cranky but I try to do my best not to explode. I usually avoid going to markets except for food. Every year I used to have this policy that I would not enjoy shopping during the Holy month. But this year I broke that rule because I have decided to get my Eid outfit ready early on instead of waiting at the last minute. The previous years when I got to celebrate it at home, I was lucky enough to be gifted one dress. But since I can afford one this year, I already have it made by my tailor. I also went crazy and bought several shoes, particularly mules for my traditional outfits (for some reasons traditional outfits work best with mules in Senegal).Going at the market where you find sparkly and shiny new things is beyond tempting but I am stopping myself now. Or maybe I need a new necklace or two… (GOD save me!!!)
 

Anyway, if you are Muslim like me, I wish you a pious and joyful Eid. May your prayers be accepted, your Duas answered. Ameen



Monday, May 29, 2017

Neighborly behavior

Sénégalese people are known to do whatever they want or like no matter what. What only matters to them is that "gnu dem" ( they advance) as they say in my country. As long as they get what they want, the ends explains the means. For example, they might take a wrong way even on the highway if they are in a rush to get to work. They will not queue at the store but instead force their way in. They will park any way they want without thinking of the next car. 

That was not the case in the past. People were thoughtful and caring particularly between neighbors. They tended to keep the peace and even had nice relationships. For example, a woman would send lunch over to her next door neighbor. Or she could go and borrow sugar if she ran out. During events, she could borrow chairs from her neighbor or even her entire house if there were too many guests to fit into her own. Some neighbors became so close, they ended up being family. 

 
 

Blazer - thrifted 
Shirt - Max, India 
Jeans - gift
Loafers- M.G. road 
Bag (pictured below) - gift
Watch - gift 


However nowadays, people live like westerners. You barely know your next door neighbor. You barely great them when you pass them on the streets. Even worse, you live as if you are alone, making loud noises at indecent hours, laughing like a James Bond movie villain or banging on doors. That was the case with my downstairs neighbors before we moved.To be fair, we lived in the same house. He rented downstairs and we rented upstairs. Both flats have independent doors. But since our flat is pretty open with big windows giving into their garden, we could hear everything that is going on downstairs and I am sure they did hear us too. Yet they were too loud. They had younger kids who screamed instead of talking. Plus they liked to slam the doors. The adults had animated discussions particularly late in the night. Moreover they enjoyed loud music. It was driving us crazy. We  never complained and tried to make less noise. But there were times where we had to say something. One day they were so loud at 11 pm hat I had to shush them from my window. 

I thought I would have peace in my new neighborhood but I was wrong. We made the mistake to have a house next to an open field where the kids play soccer. It meant that every day, they would come in that field and play. The soccer matches itself do not bother us. It is the singing and drumming and the cheerings that go along with it, that gets on my nerve. One day they were banging so loudly that I had to say something. I asked them nicely to stop the noise or at least go bang somewhere else and they just laughed at my face. Could you believe it? Kids barely older than my own two boys were defying me. When I could not take it anymore, I took their makeshift drums (empty plastic bottles) and threw it away in an empty lot that was barricaded. It felt so great for a minute until they jumped the barricades, retrieved the bottles and started banging again. The week end, they started their concert again and this time my husband intervened twice; at first he was nice but when he realised they would not listen, he confiscated the tanks and put them inside the house. I think they got the message now.
 

 
 
When I lived abroad I have to admit that I was not always the best of neighbor. My vice is that I love to listen to music loudly. And some of my neighbors were not too happy about that. One of them completely lost it one day and banged so violently on the wall we shared that one of my framed photo fell and nearly broke. I banged back at the wall and infuriated, he came banging on my door. If not for my then boyfriend now husband it would have turned ugly because I was not ready to back down. Since then, I mature and now I use my headphones when I want to listen to music. When I get crazy neighbors I just think that it is karma and sigh.




Still I wish my Sénégalese people use common sense and think of others before thinking about themselves first. The other day the entire road leading to my place was blocked by a huge tent being build because somebody would be having a party the following day. I have nothing against people celebrating but when this celebration stops others from leading a normal life., it becomes a problem . I could not even go through with my car let along park in front of my place. I had to do a u turn, circle the entire block to go around and find a parking near my flat. And to top it all there was no warning, no excuse. My personal favorite (sacarsm) is when this neighbor organises religious chantings every friday that are so loud you can't barely here yourself think ( he uses a megaphone to blast the sound all over the street). And you cannot say a thing because it is religious. You complain and people will say that you are a non-believer.
 
 What ever happened to good behavior we were so proud of in our country?
 
 




As for myself, I am a poor neighbor. I like to keep to myself and would not like to entertain a relationship with my next door neighbor like my folks do ( particularly when those neighbors are the nosy,  always up in your business type).
 However I would greet them if I meet them on the streets. And I would try and disturb them as little as possible ( because since we all share a wall, I am pretty sure I will do something one day that will disturb them). That is the least I can do. And if every one did the same, my country would be a better place! 
 
 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

B'lingo Dakar fashion launch

You guys! Guess what? I attended my first real fashion event. Yeppee!!!!
 A friend of mine knew a lady who was organizing a fashion launch and she got me and other friends passes to attend. I obviously went with my best friend.

The event was for a sportswear and swimwear African fashion house called B'lingo. I have never heard of it but I did Google it before the event. What I found were cute sportswear with a splash of African prints. It was different from your usual sportswear.


The event was held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Dakar. I have never been there but I got to admit that the place is amazing. My Spidey senses were tingling upon entering and I told my best friend that I needed to come here more for my blog photoshoots.

The event itself was outdoors in a beautiful garden with lots of greenery. Since we arrived early (but still fashionably late) we were seated like front row even though there were no rows. There were many comfy sofas and couches placed around the garden. I was enjoying myself, taking pictures, talking with my friends, acting like we were on E Fashion police. I got to admire several people with absolutely crazy sense of style. The outfits were trendy, colorful and fun. Many women wore African prints, and headwraps. Some were casual in jeans and some wore fancy dresses. The crowd were a mix of designers, ambassadors, influent people and I guess common people like myself.

Here is what I wore


Scarf - Reliance Trends
Vest - Made it
Jumpsuit - Westside
Bag - borrowed from my Mom
Shoes - Zara
Ring - M.G. road

When I knew I was going to the event, this outfit immediatly came into my mind. It was simple, I feel comfortable in it plus it had that extra "I am a fashion blogger" vibe to it. On top of it, I did not have to buy anything new. All these items have been inside my closet for years.


I did not stay the entire time of the event for I had to leave early to go take care of my babies (story of my life). Yet I watched part of the fashion show and I liked what I saw. Unfortunately this is not the type of clothing I like. I never work out. And If I do, I would feel better in some lose sweats rather than tight leggings. And do not even get me started on the swimwear that was fly but oh so sexy. To top it all off, the price is way out of my range. There were booths where one could purchase the collection.

The highlight of the night for me was when I got to meet with Fashion Designer Selly Raby Kane and Stylist Afua Rida.


With Afua Rida

I had vibes that Afua was going to be at the event when I saw on her Instagram feed the same pic the designers posted. Therefore that was an extra incentive for me to go. I caught up on her when she was alone using her phone. She was really nice and down to earth. I even took pics with her. Meeting Selly was also beyond. I came to her, giving her my hand and she was like I am a kisser. She gave me a kiss.


With Selly Raby Kane 

Waouh! She was so nice and her outfit was a killer. Her designs are not for everybody but I like her because she is different. I took pics with her as well.

After that I went home happy, on cloud 9. I can't wait to attend another fashion event.


With my Bff 


Laughing way too hard coz I can't pose!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I wore a kurta for an interview

A few months back, I was called for an interview. It was at the Indian embassy.

As usual I was in panic mode, because they called me the day before the interview. In my mind, all kind of questions were swirling. But obviously the most important one was :"what was I to wear?"

For interviews I always want to go the classic route aka black suit with a white shirt. But I had to mix it up a little in the past. One time in Summer, I wore a bright orange sleeveless blouse with a dark blazer because wearing anything with sleeves with that heat would have been suicide. Another time I wore a grey two buttoned vest with a black and white blouse. I always go for dark slacks as well.

For this interview I was going to go for the same dark slacks, a dark blazer, a white shirt and pumps when my husband who was watching me pulling clothes out of my closet suggested I wore Senegalese ethnic wear. I was puzzled a first . "What the hell are you talking about?" I asked him. He went on to tell me that since the day of the interview was Friday aka Masjid day (prayer at the mosque) everyone in town would be wearing Senegalese ethnic wear and I should do the same. For some reason, I rejected the idea. Senegalese ethnic wear was not formal for interviews I thought. But the more I looked at it, the more plausible it seemed to me. My jacket was outdated, my blouses all had to be ironed which I did not have the time to do now anyway. And my pants were too big for me after I lost some weight. Instead of going for that, I could easily slip in some Senegalese style dress that was not too fancy and already ironed ready for the interview. I wanted to go for the pink tunic featured on the blog before, but upon trying it it was a tad too sexy. When I was ready to give up, I noticed a vibrant Kurta (tunic) I had bought on sale in India two years ago and never got to wear. Plus it did not need ironing. I added a black pencil skirt, black scarf, black pumps and I was set.



Printed Kurta in Liva - Global Desi
Pants - HM
Glittered loafers - M.G. road
Sunglasses - M.G. road
Bag - gift
Watch - gift
 

 
 
This is what I wore after the interview to go run errands around town with my sons
 

The day of the interview I arrived to find three other candidates: two women and one man. The ladies were dressed in short pencil skirts and blouses but the gentleman had on Senegalese ethnic wear.
 

The interview went well and they offered me a job. However when I started asking questions, they rudely turned me down. I still do not know what happened.



Yet I was happy about my outfit choice because it stood out, and more importantly I was comfortable. I did not have to fidget with it therefore I was able to concentrate on the interview.




I am not sure what I did is something you call pull off somewhere else. I know that in Sénégal and even India it would be OK depending on where you are applying. I doubt banks, or other formal businesses would approve of it. I am pretty sure I would not have done that if I was in Japan for they are all into dark formal suits, the more formal the better. I may have future interviews but this time I will be ready. I already purchased a more fitted pair of pants. I just need a nice dark blazer that is trendy and I will be all set. Wish me luck!

 


If you would like to know what is appropriate to wear for interviews particularly in my home country of Senegal, go check my other blog here.





My best friend took these pictures while we were at CityDia supermarket sitting in the make up chair. It made me feel like I was a movie star, getting ready for her close up. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Am a grown woman

Since I have been back home, women in my family particularly my mother are constantly on my case to dress better. Although they want only the best for me, it gets on my nerves.

Women ( and men) in my country dress differently than I do. SENEGAL is a country where being casual is misunderstood. People like to dress up, men and women. Even if they wear jeans, they will wear it in such a way it does not feel dressed down at all. Girls would add nice blouses and sometimes blazers and spruce things up with sandals and a matching tote bag. Men would wear loafers and a shirt with also a blazer. As for traditional wear, the fancier the better. They also like to follow trends and color coordinate. It is not unusual to see someone wearing one color from head to toe. They spend huge amount of money to be trendy because we live in a country where only people who dress up are respected. If you do not, people either do not acknowledge you (try shopping in a fancy place wearing tattered clothes, no one will pay you no mind) or they put you down.


Scarf - old HM
Jacket -super old Ross 
Denim shirt - random shop in India
Pants - Big Bazaar, India 
Shoes - TRF then diy 


 As for me, I always dressed differently. I always had my own style even if it made my mother cringe. From the moment I was born, she would dress me preferably in floral print dresses with ruffles or pastel suits. I liked them, the girlier the better. But when I started getting curves, I became so self conscious I started hiding my body in baggy jeans and my father's polo shirts. My mother was mortified. And she tried everything she could to make me stop.  I rediscovered my feminity when I discovered boys. The way they looked at me when I was wearing skirts and dresses made me guidy. So for all of my teenage years, I was a tomboy who liked to dress feminine from time to time (like for parties). Things started to get complicated when I went abroad to Japan. For the 1st time in my life I had the financial power to buy my own clothes. And I took advantage of it. Half of my clothes were casual with jeans and tops. The other half was over the top sexy things for clubbing. I still had a small percentage of decent clothes reserved for formal events. For the first time also my body was no longer an issue. I did not hide it as much as before. I was proud of it, and flaunted it. I loved my legs, my flat stomach and small chest. I was feeling myself. Only when I started gaining weight did I return to covering my body. And that stayed with me till today.


What I also discovered in Japan was the free style of the young crowd. Some Japanese can be fearless when it comes to fashion. They would try anything and everything. They were not afraid of colors as well. It is there that I learned that my bag did not need to match my shoes. But experimenting in Japan screw me up so good, my Fashion sense is not appreciated back home.



For one thing, when I chose clothes in the morning, I put into account three factors: where am I going? What is the weather like? And it is comfortable. Say, I am off running errands in the city, which means walking a lot and riding the bus. For that I will certainly wear a pair of jeans or fitted pants, a tunic and some flats. There is no way I will wear a dress and heels. And if it is cold, I am grabbing my denim jacket or a cardigan.  I will dress accordingly when I go out to visit friends, for dinner or even for a formal event. I would put out preferably in a dressy pants and top or a maxi dress and blazer. I will also wear make up  But that is about it. I like my style clean, simple, modest and comfortable. I rarely wear high heels (even if I loooovvvve them) and do not even get me started on daily make up. I have two hair styles that I change every 3 months.  I do not dress sexy at all. My bag will probably not match my shoes and I like color blocking instead of color coordinating.  I am not judging anyone who is flashy, and sexy and well put togeter . My best friend is flashy, and wears lots of make up. You can count on her to dress up even for running errands and I love that about her but that ain't me.




People here keep on telling me that eventually I will give in and start dressing like them particularly when I start working. I would not have any other choice. I will be forced to do so when I see everyone around me doing the same thing. I am not sure of that. I know my style, I know what I like and more importantly I know what I am comfortable wearing. I may be influenced but at the end of the day, I wear what I like whether it makes my mother cringe or not.


After all, I am grown woman !

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DIY Kente printed off shoulder top



Wow! It has been a while since I have done a Diy. And I got back in the game with a relatively easy one. (Or so I thought!)

A few months ago, I was checking out the Fidak (Foire Internationale de Dakar) with my hubby and mother in law when I saw a stylish woman walk by. She was wearing this bright red accent Kente printed off shoulder top with a contrasting printed head wrap and lots of bangles. Her style was so on point that I asked if I could take her picture. I wanted to add her to my inspiration board on Pinterest. She declined but said that I could come to her booth and buy one of her tops. They cost 12.500 CFA (less than $20) a piece. I declined her offer because it thought it to be a tad pricey for a top that looked easy to make.

I was still obsessed with her look though. So I went home and googled how to make the top. I found several links on YouTube. But I settled for an easier DIY that I found on my inspiration board aka Pinterest.

I styled it like this:




Scarf - old

Top - made it
Denim jacket and skirt - thrifted
Leggings - Star bazaar

Shoes - gift

Necklace - bought over 14 years ago at a FIDAK (Dakar International Fair)










You might note that I am not wearing the top off shoulders. For modesty reasons, I am wearing it as a normal top. That is what I like about it. I can rock it sexy by pulling it down at home or surrounded by girlfriends or I can rock it as a normal top by pulling it when I am out and about. 

The top was relatively easy to sew but I had a few difficulties figuring out the sleeves. To be fair, it had been almost a year since I had used my machine. Therefore, I needed time to get re-acquainted with the entire ordeal. The top cost me just 300 CFA (less than a $1) for the elastic (and I only used a quarter of it) since I already had the fabric at hand. But, what do you think of it all? Do you like it?

If you do, I will be giving away another one in African prints. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is like my Facebook page Ode to Fashion and follow me on Instagram at Chilelai. For now the giveaway will be only open to people living in my home country of Senegal. ( I may go international on the next giveaway. Bear with me cause it is the first time I am doing this!) More details will be posted on Instagram.
 Good luck!

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