Fashion, Uncategorized

Personal style and what I’m craving now

When it comes to fashion and style, most people will tell you that picking one defining look and building your personal style around it is the best thing you can do – this is seen in the rise of the capsule wardrobe and the minimalist wardrobe (similar ideas but each can be realized in very different ways). While I like some of the ideas these trends produced – slimming your closet down, cutting back on what you own and therefore wasteful, useless buying, ect. – however, I don’t think I can really, truly commit to these and I don’t believe I would ever want to.

My style choices span across almost all walks of fashion – princess and casual tulle, tees and jeans, high-waist trousers and crop tops, 90’s plaid and dark lipped grunge, full on mix and matched suits (vests, ties, and jackets), to floral frocks and bohemian maxi skirts. To top it all off, I usual mix and match between these styles and switch the style quickly from day to day based on what mood I wake up in even more than what the day has in store.  While this means my wardrobe might be spilling out more than I’d like (i admit I have a LOT of clothes) there is a freedom to be able to decide between grunge, princess and pantsuit without feeling like I’ve abandoned my personal brand.

Still, even with my wide range of personal style choices, there are some trends (some older than others) that have sprung up recently or have begun to nag at me more than others but are definitely considered old loves:

1. Little white dress:

Every girl knows that somewhere in their closet is meant to be one garment: the LBD (Little Black Dress). This is the dress you can grab for any occasion and by a simple dressing up or down, you’ll be ready to go at the drop of a hat. It’s a dress that is so flattering, you know it won’t let you down – you know the cut, the material, everything because it is your perfect LBD.

A few years ago, a twist happened and so many people were showing up in show stopping Little White Dresses – they did everything the black dresses did but felt more daring because we all know the white can be a dangerous color if you’re not careful (spills, sheerness in bad lighting, hides nothing, must I go on?).

While these neutral dresses are on a more level playing field know, I’m really enjoying the thrill of the LWD especially twisted into separates (as you will see). I just bought a pleated maxi skirt and am on the hunt for the perfect white top for it. Which leads us to:

2. Evening separates

I’ll admit I was totally inspired by Rent the Runway’s Waltz Dress by Bailey 44 for a fun gala event I’m going to at the end of the month, but couldn’t help thinking, how great would that be in white (See how #1 works?). The other issue with the dress above is that it only looks like separates, while in reality there is a thin sheer netting between them – I’m not sure how this should work on all skin tones.

For me the choice was clear: take my inspiration an buy pieces that I are cheaper than renting the designer dress and that I’ll be able to wear over and over again, together or apart. This is my favorite part about all separates but especially when you are buying for occasion wear – you have so many options! At a later date, I’ll be able to down plyy a nice white maxi with a t-shirt and sandals and and pair a fun gala top (once I find one that satisfies) with cropped wide-leg trousers and converse for a funky summer look.

Speaking of which:

3. Wide leg trousers

Frankly, I don’t care which point in history you attribute the style to (the silk suit 20s, newsie and musical laden 40s, or ’10 Things I Hate About You’ styling 90s) I love and rock it all. I’ve been living in my two H&M pairs (which you can’t find online) which are longist-cropped (since I’m short legged), elastic, high-waist, light-weight trousers pretty much since I bought them. I love the movement and since they are cropped, pairing these with sandals, converse, booties or heels all work to make a fun, quirky aesthetic.

The hardest park for me is fit and it’s something to really watch out for if this a trend you are looking to try out. Frankly, like most things in the fashion world, these aren’t perfectly fitted for curvy girls. You don’t want anything tight – the material should skim the widest part of you, not cling. I had to buy a size up since my widest parts are my upper thighs but this means the waist band is loose. In the end, I like this because I can choose where the pants sit but I will be adding belt loops because of this. Remember, alterations are your friend!

4. Floral skinny ties:

I’ve seen these beauties popping up in men sections left and right and I want them all!A floral skinny tie is great fro ladies and gentlemen because they give someone of any designation a touch of pretty as well as visual interest that can brighten up a piece. For me, a skinny tie is also the way to go as a woman because you don’t want to be overwhelmed or look clownish, especially if you are petite.

The key to wearing these flashier styles is knowing how to pair your pieces. look at your background colors and keep to that tone – I’ve loved seeing a navy floral paired with a navy jacket or vest but a dark charcoal works well too, rather than a black suit which mostly makes it look like you dresses in bad light and didn’t see the navy.

If you try this trend, you’re usually going to want the tie to be the main event of the outfit – too much eyeball- drawing competition is headache inducing – but floral is one pattern that is hard to pair. That being said, if you do it right…

5. Mixing and matching patterns

Again, like the beginning of the Little White Dress, mixing and matching is a daring adventure in fashion that walks a narrow line but if you don’t mind a few experiments and some critics that will never be on your side, it can be a whole lot of fun. Personally I love watching people do daring mixes of patterns, colors and styles and there are tons of online guides that can help you start to explore without making you look like you dress in the dark (see another theme).

One of my close male friends loves mixing his plaids and always gets mixed results but nothing ever looks garish. He finds the balance by pairing like colors and sticking to subtle patterns – one plaid out of two (more that this gets daunting!) has to stay really subtle almost invisible and playing off a color within your matching set – but don’t match the plaids! This is two much.

For me, stripes are almost a neutral most often paired with a plaid but a floral of a pole-a-dot does nicely too. Again, there are tons of guides on how to do it but the main factor is, even if you have more than one pattern, nothing is competing – there is an order in subtlety that allows each to meld together into a single unified picture.

As I’ve said, my style varies and, for me, settling for one style is putting yourself in a box. Sure you may always appear camera ready but where is the fun in being that clean cut and cookie-cutter all the time?

–Taylor Gallagher

Books, Uncategorized

From an Editor: On Conduct and Money…

I’ll just say it: it is always a crap shoot unless everyone involved is flexible.

But to start us off, for those not aware, this ended up being a follow up from last week’s post. Therefore, for those of you who’ve already heard of my newest potential client (the one who inspired my last post), I’ll be continuing my story from there.

The past week has been troubling to say the least.

First, I had family members try and reject the book for me based on content they “didn’t think I would be comfortable with”; guys, I can turn down my own work if necessary, thanks. The bigger issue here is that you’ll find that a good amount of editors are less concerned about content – we just want people who will work well with us, take our criticism, and will pay us our due. Again, this doesn’t mean some editors won’t cringe at having the next 50 Shades cross our desk, but for me the content wasn’t the issue, the quality of the work was (since it was published!).

I’m getting off my soap box now, I promise!

Once I got word through the phonetree – again the 4 person communication relay team is not how I enjoy doing business – to my author, I eventually got a single block paragraph note. For those keeping track, this is the second impression that does not bode well for this relationship.

The positives:

  • He was polite in a minimalist, succinct manner (I mean he did say thank you for my time).
  • He gave me information about his book including his intended style, word count, and page length, as well as a basic description of the kind of service he was looking for.

The negatives:

  • This is an introductory business letter and all I received was a block of text rather than a letter introducing me to who the writer is (in either description or in style).
  • Very little concern over who I am or my expertise (which would be critical to hiring me and a point I take pride in).
  • From what I could gather of his style (a repetitive block of text, as it were), he’s looking for a quote (monetary) for the most basic editorial review which won’t be enough to make his book work.
  • But I can only assume this because I was not sent any kind of preview pages – again from what I’ve seen, this isn’t promising.

Lets take each of these negatives at a time:

First, if you write to someone you want to hire to work with you (especially if you are a writer), you must show that you are worth the time by making sure they know that you have taken your time in asking for their help (because even if you are paying them, it is their help you are paying for!).

As a writer, you are your own company so you are supposed to be professional enough to write a multiple paragraph letter (this includes a stand alone salutation, an introduction to you and your work, what you are looking for, and finally signed by you – at least the first time around) seeking said help. You are your brand so don’t make a mockery out of either of us by sending an underwritten email – again, especially if you are looking to hire me to edit a couple hundred pages of your work.

Secondly, even if you have heard of your editor’s work, you really should want to know more about the person than what they are going to charge you. You are handing over something that – more likely than not – you have put your heart and soul into. You don’t want that person to not know what they are doing – a fact which you won’t know unless you actually find out their credentials! The  easiest way to go about this? Ask them about it!

Thirdly, yes, it is possible to get a quote and a time frame based on page numbers, but it doesn’t necessarily work well for either party. As an editor, there is a basic fee you can charge either by hour or by page based on the service being sought out. The problem is, if I as an editor don’t know what your style is or what your pages look like, my hour of work estimation will likely be inaccurate meaning you’ll have to pay more than originally planned, or if charged by page, I might get screwed over if your writing is denser than anticipated. Also, I won’t know how much editing – despite a writers assurance of needing a simple, light hand – I will actually need to do until I get started which can also effect my time and cost estimation.

Which leads us to point four: I need to see sample pages. Here’s the thing, I am not going to steal your story. I’m not going to read a page of your book and say: that’s awesome but I could write it better; let me do that. I just want to gauge what I’m going to be expected to do and what my return should be.

In my first job, I edited an entire (already published) book as an audition piece without compensation, not only to get the job but to better understand the kind of writer I would be working with in both personality and style. While I will not be going to those extremes again without getting some compensation for my work, it is necessary for me to read an author’s creative work to get a handle on what we are both expecting and what can actually be done with those expectations. This first read through can also help me gauge the time needed to read your entire work so I’ll be able to give you a better return date.

Basically, especially in cases where you aren’t meeting (or really talking at all), this means I need some introductory pages.

For those interested in the numbers: cost by the page spans from $3-$7.50 depending on the depth of editorial work; cost by the hour spans from $20-$100 depending on experience, type of work, and personal negotiations.

Again, we work hard and so do you, make a good impression and work with us, or no one is going to get anything done!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Uncategorized

What You Need to Know When Working with an Editor

For anyone who is not aware, one of my jobs – my many, many jobs – is working as a freelance book editor. I’ve just recently passed my third anniversary as such and while I don’t get to do much on the regular – at least since moving to London and back – I love getting to read and correct someone else’s work.

The problem is, as a young person who works with writers, not only is work hard to come by, but when you have possible clients – sorry, authors – many of you haven’t learned how this business works. I will never blame an author for this – especially you young ones out there – but as someone working on both sides of this industry, there is a lot that you need to know.

I was recently approached through an emissary of an emissary of an emissary – for those of you trying to keep up, that is a five person game of telephone – to edit a young man’s manuscript.

That’s it.

I wasn’t given a name, the type of book, a length, fees or payment; nothing except that family members had mentioned to him that I do editorial work and would I be interested.

Author’s and editor’s alike: there is no way of answering this question!

So here’s the big point that I need authors to really think about when approaching anyone that they would like to help them polish up their work: you are an artist but so is your editor!

Editors (and I’m talking copy editors and storyline editors) don’t get much credit – we don’t have our names printed anywhere unless an author thinks of adding us into their list of acknowledgements  (which most people don’t read) but we are there for every step of making your baby/manuscript shine.

As an author, you most likely won’t make much money but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to really think about how you pay and work with an editor.

So here’s my quick how to:

If you need an emissary, make sure they are a good one – an editor’s first impression of you can be directly correlated to the impression left by the person who introduces you. Give them some information about you and your work but, most importantly, your contact information and a proposed sit down where you can talk through everything.

If you don’t trust your messenger (which may be your first problem) to get through that information, see if they can e-troduce you through email (this is where they email you both, addressing – in this case – the intended editor with a quick note where you can then follow up with all your details) and go from there.

When it comes to the actual terms, these can vary but I really recommend having a no-strings attached meeting over lunch or coffee to get to know each other, the project, and discuss the nitty-gritty details without  either of you committing.

You’ll want to hash out:

  • Time Frame: Is this something finished that they’ll be leafing over briefly, a full editorial attack/editorial rewrite, or are they working with you as you write/rewrite? Do you have a specific deadline and have you given them enough time to meet it and give you work the full attention it deserves?
  • Payment: Again, in our way, we are artists too, so if you want to get paid, we need to get paid. Costs are usually negotiable, especially when both parties are younger but some suggestions: look up the industry/guild standard and work from there (this is usually hourly); offer some other exchange – making sure all things are equal! – to make up some of the cost; or some up front and a later payment system based on later sales. This last should only be offered if you already have some kind of deal with a publisher lined up; you only get about 1 of every 10 dollars as an author so paying an editor out of that can do more harm than good to both of you.
  • Editorial Method: Are you going to keep meeting every day/week to go over and deeply discuss edits and needed rewrites or are you working completely through digital means? If the latter, do you both know the programs you’ll be communicating the edits through? If not, you’ll need some tutorials!

The only other thing that you may need to think about is what to do if you aren’t getting what you need – or they aren’t- from your editor. These are two basic choices if you don’t want to be miserable: 1. Talk it out so you both understand what is going wrong and work through it; or 2. Break off the contract while paying them up to that point -and seriously pay them for the hours they did put in as you don’t want an issue later down the road.

I would try option 1 first and then move on to the second if terms cannot be met.

This goes for editors working with writers as well! If your author isn’t doing their part, you can’t be paid. It is part of your job – unfortunately an unpaid part – to bug them until you get pages to work with or answers to your questions.

Basically, the editorial process is a conversation. You’ll be spending days and weeks of your life on this project working with this person – make sure everything fits and remember a good editor knows what they’re doing (that’s what you’re paying them for) but it’s your baby so feel free to go with your gut and don’t be afraid to hash it all out!

Finally, feel free to shoot me questions about anything, I’m here to help!

  • Taylor Gallagher
Books, Fashion

Alice’s Adventures Underground …

And everywhere else!

Flamingo walls. Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Flamingo walls. Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

Since September, I’ve been feeling a bit lost in Wonderland—or, in my case, London. It’s a place so much like home and yet so strangely different in its details that I find myself feeling a bit like a wandering Alice in a new mad world where I’m never quite sure if I’ve slipped through the looking glass forever or if I’m just searching for the best path home.

And then, within my wonderings, I began to notice that London has developed its own Alice fever… the girl is everywhere from emerging patters and silhouettes and color themes in fashion to afternoon teas (1,2,3,4), to advertised events across the city (1,2,3,4,5), even stamps! It’s only recently that I discovered why:

2015 is the 150th Anniversary of Alice and Wonderland’s first publication.

The celebrations are bigger than any un-birthday the Hatter and Hare could ever come up with… but many are probably just as mad.

Of all these events, the maddest of them all would have to be the interactive experience worth visiting again and again: Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

I was able to attend this event last Saturday, in what one site led me to believe was the last weekend, and it was an amazing evening. And, luckier still, the event is NOT over. In fact, it’s running through August, which means I’ll be lining up to go at least one more time.

This event has multiple parts from a children’s show, a literary talk series, the interactive experience for up more grown up folk and a club area that stays open later each of which has a separate ticket and therefore price—make sure you’re buying for the right thing! (The children show is for children; no adult permitted without child—check that ticket!) In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Interactive show.

Since this is ongoing and who knows which of you might be gearing to go out, I don’t want to give too much away but I’ll tell you a little more about what you are in for than the main website does:

So, what you’ll learn from the website is that this is an interactive show based on the works by Lewis Carroll where you’ll get to explore a unique version of Wonderland by being part of it, all located within the bowels of The Vaults under Waterloo station.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you pick your time, you should be aware that you MUST arrive 15 minutes before that allotted time (again, this is on the site), however, if you want to have something to drink when you get to the in world tea party (you must prepay and preorder before going in to the show), get in the right mind set, have a pre-show drink, go to the bathroom, check your coats and bags (it costs 1 pound each checked item), or anything else you feel you need to do, get there even earlier. It’s also a little bit crazy trying to find the entrance so set out earlier than you think you do; you’ll thank me later.

There is also a dress code: you are in the land of the Queen of Hearts so it’s all red and black. Please, guys, for me (yes, this is begging) stick to the dress code! One thing I hadn’t realized before this adventure was that I’m an Alice. My wardrobe would be fit for playing the character, all blues and collars and with my blond hair and petite frame, even the actors played with the resemblance! Still, there were a few blues popping in and out of groups and it was the biggest pain as someone who was embracing the whole experience. Seriously, enjoy the night and go all in—it’s more fun that way!

Like I said, you have to check your coat and bag, but I encourage you to keep cash on you. You are let out into a great space where you can get more drinks and some food, and while you can go back and get your stuff and return to eat, it’s just easier if you have the cash stashed on your person. And it’s hot down there, so keep your layers light.

Now onto the stuff they don’t tell you:

The set is amazing and you will have choices as you interact within it. You enter in through this maze of boxes which let out into a room full of artifacts; pictures hanging from the ceiling, book shelves climbing the walls at impossible angles, mirrors and toys. Take a wander and explore—it’s not exactly a museum so you can touch, just don’t disrupt anything. Beware: don’t get too close to the walls as the doors are hidden and spring open to let you down the next passage ways.

Storytelling wise, you are entering Wonderland after Alice has come and gone, her name and person is a banned subject. The black cards (the clubs and spades) are part of an uprising in Wonderland, fighting to take down the King and Queen of Hearts, the reds (Hearts and Diamonds), on the other hand, are solving the conspiracy. Each suit will follow its own adventure—even coming in a group won’t guarantee you’ll all stay together so you should choose if you want to try sticking together as much as you can or all meet up at the end of the line.

If you are anxious about talking to characters or being approached, you should be aware that it’s possible that this is going to happen. You can either fight through or, if you are struggling, an actor will help you out. Even then, you very rarely have to do anything completely on your own. Don’t not go because you don’t want to be singled out—it’s worth it, I promise.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you do get to the end, don’t think this is just a room with a band, besides the wandering characters (who are definitely worth having a chat or to with), live music and food, there is a maze that leads through to a second bar as well as the makings of a royal flamingo croquet course for you to play with some friends through the “PIES” door and up the stairs. This is also the only space besides the pre-show room that you are allowed to take pictures in—yes, of and with the wandering characters as well.

That’s all you’re getting from me, at least, for now. Let me know with a comment if you have any questions and I’m sure to answer what I can. Also, here’s a master list I found with other Wonderland inspired events going on through and further out from London, so check your local listings.

Remember: It’s a mad world and we’re all mad here, but the best people usually are…

–Taylor Gallagher


Fashion Finds: Chicwish

The thing I’ve found in London is that there are great stores and tons of them, but nearly all of them sell their wares way beyond what I could afford of I want to keep my life on the budget I’ve been working under.

This doesn’t mean that I never splurge—it’s just rare and something I do only after a lot of thought. And I’ve found—as an individual who really does love to shop—whether you are wandering around a physical store or flipping through a virtual one, you can have the same basic experiences with only a few dangers and draw backs.

Growing up, I never liked online sopping—even the idea of it perplexed me. You can’t run through the idles seeing what other people are holding, feel the fabric and really see and feel the details, try something on just so you can say you tried it, gage your size by trying on different sized—while the wide web of the internet shopping ethos have done a great deal to right these issues, it’ll never be the same.

And I’ve always recognized the dangers (because I really like to shop!). You can now shop without making the effort to go somewhere and you can do it wherever and wherever you are which means if you aren’t careful, you will end up spending tons of money on things that were whims because you didn’t have to physically cart them back across town.

Not to mention the loss (of excitement and sobering reality) of having to hand over your money to a stranger and realize that you are giving up something for getting what is in your hands—a sensation that can make your discernment process a bit stricter in terms of what you let yourself buy.

And now that I’ve put in the effort to tell you all the problems with online shopping, I want to mention a site I’ve found this year and have come to really love: Chicwish.

Amore Mesh Tulle Skirt.

Amore Mesh Tulle Skirt.

I think I first stumbled upon this site thanks to a pintrest tag after I’d fallen in love with Audrey Hepburn films. I found this wool midi skirt that just screamed Audrey style circa Roman Holiday and after giving myself a week to stare at the tag in my browser favorites, I just had to get it—and just in time for Christmas! I got that happy shopping feeling in my gut and promptly watched Confessions of a Shopaholic to reaffirm that loving shopping is good, but control is better.

Back in January, I wrote a post covering my fashion wish lists—capes, plaid/tartan, and collared dresses—but I left out one look that anyone flipping through my style pintrest board would quickly discover: I have an obsession with tulle and a desire to run around town in a fashion tutu.

Why was this left to the wayside then?

Generally, I’m a practical dresser. Yes, I tend to lean to a carefully fashioned practicality—a cotton blazer is just as easy and warm as a hoodie—over flashier pieces and what is a tulle tutu if not a statement piece?

And yet my love of them continued to flourish.

I’d convinced myself for a while that I would simply make my own—I’m crafty like that—but as time went on, it became more and more clear that it just was not going to happen. Then, when I was still looking through stores, the closest I found besides petty unlined petty coats—not made in either quality fabric or true outerwear wearability to really work as a substitute—came in the form of high school dance dress which, while cute, never has the versatility I was looking for.

Which brings us back to Chicwish. After my Christmas purchase, I began receiving updates from the site and, therefore, received their email about the big styles they are currently promoting, Bloom and Tulle.

To say it was hard not to splurge is an incalculable understatement.

Lavender Tulle Mini Skirt.

Lavender Tulle Mini Skirt.

Anyway, if you are looking to purchase a skirt like this, now is the time to get looking. The site currently has a range of styles (including dresses), lengths, volumes, and colors to look through and, if my cart is anything to go by, a lot of the merchandise is on sale.

I approach online shopping like you would (or at least should) approach shopping in a store. Put the stuff you like in your basket—this gives you a clear visible range of the style and individual pieces you are looking for.

Then, go through the basket pulling together similar items and narrowing them down to what you really want, discarding as you go.

When you have your short list, ask yourself the reality questions: when will you wear this? How often? What am I giving up for this? Is it worth it? What things do I own that I can wear with this, or do I have to buy more to make it work? Do I already have something that makes this redundant?

Once you answer these, you’ll discard what you don’t need, save what you still have to think about and head out to buy what you have really thought about buying—this can easily be a week after putting it in your cart (depending on availability)—one of the convenient positives of having the store at you fingertips!

Like I said, I love shopping, but it’s about shopping well—a skill that is honed just like any other in your arsenal. And Chicwish and its unique pieces, for me, definitely makes the cut in this city I can’t really afford and yet love so much.

–Taylor Gallagher

Fashion, Shoes

One heel of a pain

I apologize for the pun, but I have to make this quick but I have to run out the door soon for my final stop of reading week.

When packing last week I mentioned boots as a great option believing that there was going to be rain. What I forgot to mention was always pack shoes you would swear your life on will not kill your feet and don’t just research the weather but the area you’ll be covering as well.

As it turns out, Paris and Lyon, while beautiful cities, have another thing in common besides the country they are situated in: HILLS!! (and not little ones…)

While I knew my boots would hold up better than most my other shoes walking around as much as I do on a trip, not taking the terrain and slip factor into account, we’ll just say my feet are angry.

So, what have I learned?

No matter where you are going, pack a good pair of tennis shoes/workout shoes. there functional and are strangely trending even in the fashionable regions of the world.

Also, your feet will thank you!

–Taylor Gallagher