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Ellen Zacarias

Hey there. I’m Ellen, and I graduated with a lit/writing degree from UCSD. As the chosen major suggests, I love books and working with text, and in addition to that, my other interests include style, MBTI and travel.

When I’m not working, reading or writing, I enjoy walking along trails, spending time with my family, and thinking about imaginary realms and characters.

You can contact me at ellen.ly@gmail.com.

Cost-Per-Wear Theory: Maximizing the Value of Each Piece of Clothing in Your Wardrobe

How to Get the Most Out of Your Clothes

Is your closet littered with clothes that you bought on sale but have only worn once? Or maybe you’ve been eyeing that Prada bag but have no idea how to justify the cost. Well, cost-per-theory is here to help with that.

Who Benefits from Using the Cost-Per-Wear Theory

  • Anyone with limited storage. Sure, maybe you like that hat because it’s stayed with you for so long, but it’s just not pragmatic to keep that space-hogger around for 364 days of the year. 
  • A less discriminating bargain-holic. Your home is filled with odd finds from sales bins and thrift stores. You have tons of clothes that you’ve only worn once, but you got them for cheap! How much value are you really getting out of them?
  • People with expensive tastes, brand-holics. The cost-per-wear theory will help you justify spending extra for that bag, which you swear to tote around for the rest of your life. You make a deal with the fashion devil to have a tiny, but super-expensive wardrobe consisting of five Dior tops, designer jeans (and nothing else!) that you’ll circulate consistently for five years, while eating ramen for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

How the Cost-Per-Wear Theory Works

If you buy a dress on sale for $10 and wear it once before forgetting about it, then the dress’s cost-per-wear is $10.

If you splurge on a $60 dress and wear it twice a week for two months, then by the end of these two months you will have worn it 18 times. $60/18 wears = $3.75 per wear. Ultimately, despite its heavier initial cost, you received more value out of that $60 dress than you did for the $10 dress. But you had to wear the heck out of it first!

Many fashion guides recommend getting it down to $3 per wear, but I think that your ideal wear depends on your own budget and preferences.

Take a look at your clothes (and jewelry) and their initial costs, and then estimate how many times you’ve worn those items. Then you can figure out your own ideal cost-per-wear.

Flaws of the Cost-Per-Wear Theory

  • strong>It may not be enough justification for splurging on that Prada bag, after all. Sure, you were able to get that $60 dress down to $3.75 per wear. But what if you had worn that $10 dress eighteen times? You would have taken it down to 55 cents per wear!
  • strong>The theory assumes that higher costs go with better quality, but that isn’t always the case. What if your $60 dress breaks down after only two wears? That would leave you at $30 per wear, which is a bad investment and a far cry from $3 a wear.
  • strong>There are other factors involved in determining an item’s value outside of cost-per-wear, such as its sentimental value. Maybe you don’t wear that necklace often, but your grandmother gave it to you. So while its cost-per-wear might be higher than your other items, it makes up for it in terms of sentimental value.

Conclusion

Despite its flaws, the cost-per-wear theory is something to keep in mind the next time you go shopping. It’ll come in handy in determining whether you can (or are willing to) wear an item often enough to get its cost-per-wear down to your ideal level.

Action Movies Coming Out in August 2014

An Overview of Action Movies Rolling Out in Theaters This Month

If you’ve been in the theaters lately, you will have seen some trailers for some really good (or at least visible) stuff coming out. Here’s an overview of what’s going to come this month, as well as my current opinions:

August 8

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Made by two famous names in the action film industry, director Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles) and director/producer Michael Bay (Transformers!), this flick is receiving lots of attention. Mutant turtles emerge from the sewers to save New York City from a villain. This is their chance to change their status from outcasts to heroes. I’m not sure if it’ll be good, but I’m willing to try it out of nostalgia. I sporadically watched the cartoons as a kid, and people who were fans of the cartoon will be coming out to see it.

Into the Storm

A bunch of people chase tornadoes in the town of Silverton and document their adventures. The basic struggle is human v. environment, a struggle for survival.  As a tornado non-enthusiast, I’m not too excited. Not even Richard Armitage (who plays Thorin in the Hobbit trilogy) would make me want to see it. From what I’ve seen on reviews, Into the Storm has its good and exciting moments, but ultimately it doesn’t stand out as a movie. 

August 15

The Expendables 3

Explosions, a group of famously ass-kicking actors including my state’s former governor, and a bulky-as-fluff Sylvester Stallone? Planes, helicopters, trucks. Punching bad guys and babies (okay, maybe not the second part). Sure, why not. I don’t expect anything from here to make me question the condition of humanity. I expect fun explosions and a mediocre script. Looks great on the big screen. I’m down to see it if there’s nothing better.

Let’s Be Cops

The trailer for this is great. The two New Girl actors Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. take on roles as fake cops trolling the streets, but then things “get real” as they find themselves in legit danger. It looks hilarious, and I think they’re both perfect for the roles. I’ll definitely go see it.

August 22

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

As the sequel to the 2005 Sin City movie, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For will include more stories from the comics written by Frank Miller. It’s hard to say whether this is a literal “sequel” or “prequel” because the comics themselves weren’t released chronologically. The stories take place in a violent and corrupt town. The original Sin City movie is rated 8.3 stars on IMDB, which is really good. Jessica Alba will be back, and Eva Green (my celeb crush) will play Ava Lord. I would have to see the first one before I decide on this one. 

August 29

The November Man

CIA field operatives never really retire, do they? This is a spy flick with a James Bond-like plot. An ex-CIA agent finds himself on a personal mission that involves fighting a former student and maneuvering himself within a political game of CIA officials and Russian politicians. As of right now, I’m not too interested in this movie, but if you’re into spy movies you can check it out. 

Choosing a Bag for Class: Which Style Suits You?

When I first started living on campus as a freshman, I was still carrying the same lumpy backpack from when I was taking several AP classes in high school–in other words, my backpack could have fit two medium-sized dogs and probably your baby brother. With my classes spaced out over the week, I didn’t have to carry as many textbooks, and I saw a lot of students toting around cute bags. It took a lot of experimentation to figure out what I liked, especially since I didn’t know where to start.

What to Keep in Mind While Choosing a Bag

  • Volume 
    How much can it hold? Do you plan on carrying a lot? If so, watch out for chain straps or straps that hang on a ring for support. Try not to overstuff your bag. I’ve had straps snap on me in between classes. Fortunately the bag was supported by two straps instead of just one. 
  • Color
    Is it compatible with your wardrobe? For the maximum amount of compatibility, you can go with a neutral color like tan, black, brown, or gray. But if you want to live a little and embrace color (colored bags are so fun!), then try a bag that goes with a lot of the clothes you have in your closet.
  • Structure, Shape
    Do you want a bag that can stand on its own like a briefcase or satchel or a more flowy, bohemian bag? Structured bags look slightly more formal and classic than un-structured bags, but either style can go well with many outfits depending on your personal style. 
  • Material
    Do you need a waterproof bag? If so, you’re going to have to pass up on that bare canvas. Are you looking for an environmentally sustainable tote? Look into natural fibers like cotton, canvas, and hemp. You probably see a lot of canvas tote bags around campus. Different materials evoke different levels of formality. On a range of casual to formal, I would put them as: paper/reused materials, canvas, cotton, polyester, PVC/vinyl, fake leather, leather, sequins all over. This is just a generalization though, since it also depends on the style that the bag is made into.
  • Compartments
    Do you prefer to just toss all your stuff into one pocket and go, or do you need to organize your stuff with zippers and pockets?
  • Straps, Zippers, Magnetic/Snap Buttons 
    How do you want your flaps to close? Once I bought a bag with adorable straps, but it ended up being a pain to close every time. At some point I just yanked the flap open and stuffed things in. I should have made sure that it was closed with zippers not straps. Go for zippers and snap buttons, unless you’re imbued with infinite patience…during the rush between classes.

Here’s an overview of the basic styles of book bags and how they’re great (and not so great

Tote Bag, Shoulder Bag

A very common type to see on campus and everywhere else. The tote is great for showing off your pop culture love with graphic prints and stuff, or you can go classy with a (faux) leather bag in an eye-popping color. Totes are great for when you have so much stuff that YOU WANT TO STUFF IT ALL IN. However, it’s not so great for carrying extremely heavy loads because all the weight is placed on one shoulder. Carrying heavy loads unevenly for extended periods of time can lead to back problems.

Messenger Bag, Satchel, Crossbody

Slung over one shoulder, the strap hangs across your chest and the bag itself lies at your hip. This is good for distributing a large amount of weight, but ultimately you are still relying on one strap. If you ride your bike across campus, messenger bags are a good option because the bag stays put while you pedal, as opposed to struggling to balance a slipping tote bag on your shoulders as you bike. Downside: if you have breasts, the straps can look awkward cutting in between your sisters. 

Backpack

Backpacks have been getting cuter over the past decade. Sometimes you really can’t help those days when you have a full schedule of classes. That’s when a trusty backpack comes in handy. Jansport has a lot of bucket-sized backpacks if you’re carrying around two chem books and an overstuffed binder along with a jacket. The cute backpacks tend to hold fewer things, so if you’re ordering backpacks online, it’s important to look at the dimensions of the bag to make sure it can hold a notebook and your other stuff. The downsides: having to take it off to get your stuff out, and a sweaty back (if you’re prone to back acne).

Wristlet

Are you reading this and going like, Screw all this; I’m skipping the bag altogether? If you only have one class that’s 5 minutes away from your dorm, then you can zip some pens up, scoop up your books, and dash. I think that everyone should have a wristlet if they live on campus, especially since some jean pockets tend to be either nonexistent or way too small to hold a smartphone. Sometimes you just want to go downstairs and eat without lugging around a giant bag with you.

Zipping Away

A lot of us have bought bags, but if you’re in the mood to shell out cash for one good bag that you can depend on for the year, keep these things in mind as you pick the right shape and style to use. 

An Introduction to Cult Classic Movies

What better way to develop one’s (pop) cultural literacy than to watch some movies that are widely referenced? It makes for a fun and easy summer project. If you’re already a movie guru or just someone who’s seen a lot of flicks, you’ll probably recognize all five of these. But if you’re relatively new to the movie scene and feel like checking out some of the most famous films that show up in memes and quotes, here are some suggestions to get you started. 

Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

You don’t even have to like musicals to enjoy this one. Tim Curry belting out “Sweet Transvestite” in his sultry voice while rocking his bare hips has mesmerized many females and males over the past few decades. Slightly raunchy, totally campy, with catchy songs…this is the horror movie parody of the ‘70s that broke tons of taboos. 

Clerks (1994)

One of the oldest Kevin Smith flicks about these two pals who work in a convenience store. The script is witty and hilarious, and really makes me miss the ‘90s even though I barely caught a glimpse of it before being ushered into the Britney-clad 2000s. The adventures are funny but there’s also a sort of poignant, existential exploration as Randal and Dante figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. I think anyone who has worked in a seemingly dead-end job can relate to this search for direction and meaning.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Seems like 1994 was a good year for movies. I think Quentin Tarantino has reached the point in which most of his works have become their own cult classics if you just give them enough time to ripen. Pulp Fiction…John Travolta and Uma Therman. Pop culture references. Weird but intriguing dialogue. Ridiculous action scenes. REALLY funky but amazing actors. It’s a mish-mash of all things awesome. I recommend it.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

A group of kids showing up for Saturday detention. All of them from different cliques, with clashing personalities and outlooks on life. I came into this one with low expectations but was pleasantly surprised by how intriguing it was in terms of humanizing each character. Some of the classic tropes of the 80s teen flicks show up, but the script was good and the actors were even better. There were tons of teen movies from the 80s, but this would be the flick that outshines its siblings in being THE high school movie that defined the decade.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Killer Klown aliens land in small-town America and proceed to hunt and feed on the local folk by encasing them in cotton candy sacks to suck their blood later. Okay, so maybe this one isn’t exactly a cult classic. But I’m pretty sure that there’s some sort of creepy clown cult hiding around the Internet somewhere, and they surface around Halloween every year. To the clown cult…this cheesy horror flick, with its hideous clowns, would be a gem. I had the misfortune of seeing this one when I was seven, and nightmares of being trapped in an underground hell of killer clowns plagued me for years afterward. Of course, I was a kid and didn’t get the “comedy” aspect of the whole thing. Cheesy special effects that look like they came from the ‘50s. Cheesy script with mediocre acting.  Punk soundtrack. The only outstanding thing here are the super-ugly, cringe-inducing clown makeup/costumes. And to my deep dismay…a sequel is now in the works.

Thanks for checking this out! I kept it down to five this time but there are so many other cult classics. Any recommendations for other classic flicks to introduce to a friend?

The Guide to Getting Along with Your Roommate

Tips for Surviving Freshman Year

Some of you will be moving into dorms for later this fall. Unless you scored a single, you will have at least one roommate. By now you’ve probably heard of some nightmarish horror stories about awful roommates and are entertaining possibilities in your mind about the sort of person your roommate can be. Whether your roommate ends up being your soul mate, good pal, or just another person you live with, here are some tips to keep them from becoming your arch nemesis:

• Set Boundaries Early. It’s a lot easier to set boundaries early than later on. Because once you’ve been letting someone go into your closet to borrow stuff for six months, it’s going to be a lot more awkward to yank your favorite shirt out of their hopeful hands. And hurt feelings may occur because some level of expectation has developed.

Respect Their Stuff. An extension of setting boundaries. No snooping around or touching their stuff. You wouldn’t want them to do the same to you!

• Take your roommate contract seriously. Trust me. When I was a freshman, I had circled “anytime!” on the questions about how often it’s okay for my roommate to use my fridge, toothpaste, etc, not thinking that I’d really have to uphold my side of the promise if she took advantage of it. Think in a worst-case-scenario: if your roommate turns out to be a repulsive, nasty ogre, are you really willing let them use your toothpaste every day? If they turn out to be nice folk who run out of toothpaste one day, then you can always be generous. But it’s a lot harder to create a boundary where there wasn’t one before.
Whenever there’s a problem between roommates, the first thing that the RA (Resident Advisor) does is go over your contract agreement. So if you’re mad about your roommate using all your shampoo and you had marked that it was okay to use it, well…it’s going to be a lot harder to switch rooms.

• Go to events together. Even though I had zero interest in sororities, I went to rush events with my suitemates and roommate. By doing so, I was able to taste the excitement and see how the sorority/frat scene is like. I also had a lot of fun partying it up with my suitemates!

Keep an eye out for their needs. Don’t bring in your friends while your roommate is trying to study. If they come home tired, let them have some quiet time. Figure out a compromise if you’re a night tiger and they’re a morning bird. Some people have trouble falling asleep with the light on, and that can be a problem if you’re studying late into the night while your roommate sleeps.

• Keep things clean. An excessively gross roommate is one of the most common roommate dilemmas out there. There are many stories of nasty, atrocious roommates who leave food (and worse things, like tampons) to rot, ferment, mold, and decompose into all of their wondrous mutated forms. Please don’t be one of them.

• Be direct but calm and polite. If your roommate happens to be one of those mold-loving balls of joy, talk to them about it and be direct about how it’s affecting you. After all, it’s hard to concentrate (or even sleep) when your room smells like a landfill.

• Give them space…but also introduce them to your friends. Everyone can use a bit of downtime every once in a while—some people need more alone time than others. It also opens you both up to finding your own paths in the campus. On the other hand, some people are just very shy. If you have a roommate who’s shy but wants to socialize more, then give them a boost by introducing them to people! They might not click with everyone but you never know who they might become chummy with. And they’ll have you to thank.

Offer an ear if they are feeling down. Campus living (and college in general) takes quite a bit of adjustment. A lot of students find themselves far from home and friends they have known for nearly all their lives. Launched into this new environment with unfamiliar faces and fast-paced lifestyles, it can all feel overwhelming and lonely. If your roommate opens up to you, you can help shape their perspective of the college experience in a positive way by being a good listener and compassionate friend. If your roommate is having a super hard time coping with the stress or loneliness, then suggest that he or she try talking to a counselor—your school should have a mental health services department ready to help students who are feeling the stress—it’s a common experience!

Many of these tips have a lot to do with being both assertive and considerate to your roommate. Keep these tips in mind as you prepare for a great year living on campus!

Goodbye to Juicy Couture in the USA

Luxury Loungewear Chain Closing Up Stores in the States

Never thought that the chain responsible for the overpriced JUICY logo stamped on many a well-shaped derriere would ever shut its doors. 

According to Huffington Post, Juicy Couture is closing its US brick-and-mortar shops in June. Apparently the lifestyle brand had been struggling over the past few years, even to the point of signing a deal to sell its clothes at Kohl’s. 

Don’t get me wrong–I love shopping at Kohl’s, but a mid-range department store is a long shot from an exclusive brand boutique. During my misadventurous year at UCSB, I used to walk into their store in Santa Barbara. The inner decor was super cute and girly, although the merch was unsurprisingly overpriced.

Juicy sweatpants were popular in the early to mid-2000s. During my misadventurous year at UCSB, I saw a lot of girls sporting the Uggs + Juicy sweatpants combo. I was never a fan of the sweatpants or the tracksuits–I couldn’t justify unloading that much cash for some expensive letters stamped on my butt (or down my leg).  I did like the cute Juicy satchel with the hanging charms though. 

Goodbye, Juicy. You had a good run as an iconic brand in the States. Thanks to you, many sweatpants were elevated from their humble status of frumpwear to an image of lazy poshness. Supposedly you are making a comeback next spring. Maybe you can inject some freshness into the brand. Maybe it’s not the end for you just yet.

What to Wear to Summer Classes

Outfit Ideas

Summer is rolling, and classes are starting. So what can you wear to stay cool in the heat without falling into the plain ol’ tank + shorts or tee + shorts formula? Here are some tips:

  • Choose lightweight fabrics
  • Mix a basic piece with something dressier, such as a fancier top or a skirt
  • Choose a theme for your outfit (girly, nautical, etc)  and roll with it
  • Add accessories! Especially ones that go with your theme
  • Try sandals with a special detail in them that makes them stand out (a braided strap, studs, cut-out patterns, etc)

Below are some examples of what you can wear to class:

Outfit 1

Summer Classes: feminine

Sheer, white blouses are a versatile choice for summer, especially when paired with patterned pieces such as this skirt. The solid-colored simplicity balances out the busier florals. The bright bag and pastel nail polish bring out colors in the skirt, while the simple brown gladiator sandals keep everything down-to-earth for classes.

Add cute sunnies and a sun necklace (as an ode to summer) and go!

Outfit 2

Summer Classes: Studs

From far away, this outfit looks simple, but once you get closer you start noticing that there is actually a theme going on: studs! An oversized top, shorts, and a hat make up the summery outline of this look.

The bow-studded necklace, bracelet, sandals, and lightly-studded bag pull the outfit together in both color and theme. The light, neutral colors evoke a sense of casual earthiness. But it’s all in the details.

Outfit 3

Summer Classes: Mermaid, Nautical

Hitting the beach or pool after classes? Try this sea-themed collection that mixes polka dots and stripes. The Ariel image breaks up the stripes of the tank top, keeping it from becoming too matchy with the beach tote.

Following with the nautical theme, the colors of the skirt, sandals, and sunglasses are made up of red, white, and blue. I must admit that I love heart sunnies. I’ve seen them everywhere and still love them!

Alluding to the adventures in the waters, both of the bracelets contain an element of the sea, such as the anchor and the rope. Apply lip gloss and jet-ski.

To the reader:

How do you get out of style ruts? Let us know!