WhyDid Wisdom: Overshare and Tell

By |October 15th, 2016|WhyDid Wisdom|


“Ugh, Kirsten, shut the f*ck up!” I mutter to myself for the four hundred billionth time in my life.  Yet again, I have surprised myself with something that has passed between my lips- an internal musing that was never meant for public consumption has now taken its place right at center stage of conversation.   There are times I wish I could capture my own surprise, which no doubt, mirrors that of my listeners.  It’s really a wonder I didn’t go into PR as I have spent countless hours cleaning up my own messes.  Even BP would be impressed with my ability to casually diffuse an incredibly awkward situation.  Extra details from bad dates, physical ailments none would ever admit to, feelings most prefer to keep at bay.  When it comes to personal plight, my ability to keep quiet is reminiscent of the beating heart in Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.   If backpedaling was a sport, I’d qualify for the Olympics.  But alas, I live by the mantra, “Mean what you say.  Say what you mean,” and for better or worse, one must own his words.

Like most people’s best qualities, my openness, and frankness, is also one of my worst.  I have no problem putting it out there– from my outfits to my emotions– and while some find that refreshing, others find it revolting.  To know me well is to know that nothing I say (for the most part) is out of malice.  I love hard and feel deeply.   Unfortunately, I keep a fairly close circle, so my average audience is likely to be experiencing this word vomit for the first time.  Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I snore when I sleep.

In many cultures, people share meals in order to relate to one another.  Other cultures wash and braid each other’s hair.  For me, telling stories, and sharing my own woes is the way in which I bond with others.  I see it as a way to say, “See, I have those scars too.” “I’m afraid of the same things.”  “Look how bad I messed up.”  “We’re all human, welcome to the sh*t show that we call life.”  And indirectly, it is probably a way for me to look to others and ask if what I’ve been through is “okay” too.

Throughout history from the Bible to Greek mythology all the way back to ancient hieroglyphics (the original emojis), storytelling has been an important way for history to be remembered, lessons to be taught, and used as a portal for people to connect to their roots.  And while it is a truly beautiful thing to be able to share pieces of yourself with others when they may need it, Hemingway said it best, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” there is such a thing as oversharing.  You can also be too rich and too thin.

In school, we are taught from an early age that sharing is the right thing to do.  Tommy can have all of our blocks if he’d like them.  Don’t be so selfish.  But when does sharing your stories out of genuine generosity and encouragement of enlightenment become uncomfortable oversharing and an introduction to indecision?

The problem with oversharing is two fold- beyond the obvious potential of offending the general population.  First, people begin to feel comfortable weighing in on your problems, solicited or not.  I’ve found myself frustrated, foiled, and sometimes even angry when I’m telling a story and others begin to pipe in with what I should do or where I made my biggest blunder.  I’m very self aware and already know the catastrophic state of my mistakes, but when you’ve made a habit of inviting everyone in to watch things unfold on the main stage, and unless your name is Kanye you can’t kick them out mid performance.  Take a bow, my, friend,  this is a little something people like to call “boundaries” and while we don’t want to build a wall in Mexico, we do need personal boundaries.

Next, you forget how to make your own decisions and/or you get lazy.  When you stop sharing out of acquired wisdom and instead share in order to gain acceptance, you begin to lose track of yourself and rely too heavily on others’ opinions.  This, again, opens you up to a public forum for your problems and while most are weighing in with hopes to help, more likely than not, despite the best of intentions, they’re bringing their own experiences into the mix and this can be a catalyst for confusion.  I’ve said it before, no one knows what the f*ck he is doing and one would hope we’re all doing the best we can.  No one is an actual expert on anything– except math.  You might be an expert in arithmetic. Much like a muscle can atrophy, when your intuition isn’t used, it becomes weak and all of a sudden you can’t distinguish your gut feelings from your inclination to react from past experiences, yours or otherwise.  It’s like a ship lost at sea with no land in sight.  You can no longer make your own judgement calls without weighing in first.

But stories are important and they will always be a noble way for humans to relate to one another.  There are times when I’ve been caught by a passage in a book I’m reading and finally feel understood.  Articles written by people who have conquered some of my same quandries have given me hope.  And let’s not forget that music is one of the greatest ways to tell a story.  There’s a reason there are so many songs about heartbreak and we all know I love a good cry in the shower (or at least now you do).  It is important to be open to others and to find ways wherein we can relate to everyone from the Queen of England to the man who hosed down the sidewalk this morning.  The key comes in finding the balance and distinguishing what you are sharing and your reasons for sharing it.  It is a matter of telling your story without asking for approval.  Jesus certainly wasn’t asking his disciples whether or not he should confront the Pharisees.  Sure, every day is a new chapter and you have the option to rewrite your ending in any way you choose, but masterpieces are printed in ink, not etched in pencil.  Your story is your own and you can share it whenever and with whomever you choose. Just remember, there will always be critics, ask the New York Times, and know that not everything is always a best seller.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something– a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things– which you had thought special and particular to you.  Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead.  And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”

Alan Bennett



It’s Been a Long Time… We Shouldn’t Have Left You

By |August 2nd, 2016|WhyDid Wisdom|

how old do i have to beSeven years ago, I was working in a cubicle in a buying office on Fifth Avenue. I had what most starry eyed college graduates would consider the “dream job.” In most minds I spent my days surrounded by beautiful clothing, fabulous designers, and relished in an all around glamorous lifestyle.

In reality, I was in a tiny grey cube with a PC from 1997 perched atop a chair that was most certainly acquired from a sidewalk fire sale, squinting at Excel sheets and entering purchase orders into an archaic system, which I attribute to my need for glasses today. Yes, I did get to go to beautiful showrooms like DVF, Dior, and Moschino, but that was a very small percentage of my day to day work life. I was also in my early twenties and hadn’t the slightest concept of just how fortunate I was.  Needless to say, I was never in the running for “employee of the month.” I’d actually gotten called into HR on more than one occasion for not “socializing” enough with the other employees. It wasn’t all boring busy work though, I could fix just about any copy or fax machine and this life skill has saved me a time or two at FedEx Kinkos faxing lease renewals and other obnoxious New York City rites of passage. My bosses used me as bait to chat up the suits who worked in the same area at local after work spots: The MoMa, what was once the Penn Top, and Monkey Bar.

I showed up because I knew I needed a job and this one, at the time, this was the job to have.  Finance was booming and there was good reason why people started hosting parties called “Fashion and Finance.”  The receptionist at the front desk of our floor at 666 Fifth Avenue (does the devil really wear Prada?) often received calls asking for the blonde lingerie buyer.  That was me.

It was all bankers and bucket bags until the day our entire buying office was called in like cashmere swaddled cattle for a meeting in the conference room where we were informed that post meeting, we’d be asked to turn in our security cards and gather our belongings because our positions no longer existed.  Not since a sorority slumber party had I seen so many fashion majors drunk in heels that sad afternoon.

Many of my colleagues managed to snag other positions within our competitor retailers and fashion houses, but that was just about the time I realized that I really didn’t enjoy the work I’d been doing.  Sure, I could predict without fail which colors would sell out and what styles to swap in order to increase sell through and avoid markdowns, but I hated the office politics and mundane day to day number crunching. I had already started writing for WhyDid and was living with my boyfriend in TriBeCa at the time.  I supplemented in the interim with my other New York love, real estate. I’d wanted to apply for a job at the ASPCA, but my boyfriend (a banker, but, of course) discouraged me, telling me that it would only depress me. I should have dumped him then.

Nearly seven years passed before I realized again that I had been sucked into work that was no longer fulfilling to me.  I also hadn’t really grasped the concept of how to fully monetize the hours and hours of work I’d spent slaving away on posts, photoshoots, and product placement.  Sure there had been two cross country moves, an extended stay in Florida, a few jobs at failed start ups, and finally a move back to my old West Village neighborhood to an apartment directly across from the one I’d started in, but it wasn’t until after a trip to Paris that I realized it all felt false.

When I began WhyDid, it was all about calling out bad fashion, celebrity faux pas, and snarky commentary on the overall state of style. In time, I started to include more personal pieces, trend forecasting, how to videos, and even photos of myself (which, to this day, still make me nervous). Traffic was up, I could churn out content without much effort- one eye on the TV, another hand texting back friends. Major publications had even approached me to helm their ships, but I had no interest. It all came quite easily to me, but it no longer felt natural. I didn’t really care what Kerry Washington wore, who Taylor Swift was dating, or why I should buy into the Birkenstock trend.

You see, my whole life I had been lauded as “Best Dressed” and “Most Likely To Be Famous.” You should have seen how disappointed my mother looked during parents’ weekend in college when I received the superlative of “Most Likely to Marry a Rockstar” over “Future Nobel Prize Winner.” It was as if I had been painted into a picture of myself and I’d just decided to live in it. I’d become my very own still life—of myself. I lived in a perfect West Village apartment with a cute white dog and a Soho House membership. My Instagram feed read like a perfectly curated (I despise that word) collection of moments with friends at beaches, birthday parties, and brunches.

And then one day I woke up. I could not write. I could not pretend anymore. There were words in my head, but I couldn’t get them out. I’d start sentences. I’d jot things down. Short thoughts. Brief phrases, but nothing ever fully formed. I had to stop. I had to take a step back. I had to start over.

I shortened WhyDidYouWearThat to WhyDid, several years ago to include more topics including everything from food to the LGBT lifestyle, but it became clear to me that the real reason was because we have become a society that reads headlines instead of stories. We consume “listicles” rather than research. We’ve become lazy and would rather be told what to think than form our own opinions. I have always been someone who wants to know, “Why?” There’s a reason Elmo was my favorite Sesame Street character. I’ve never felt comfortable using words I can’t spell or talking about topics I’m not informed about. We let people tell us what to wear whether it looks absurd or not. We are a country based on freedom, yet we’ve given up all of our rights—on our own. Why don’t we ask more questions?

I asked my mentor, my father, my best friend why would people listen to me when I’ve done so many things wrong? I have no idea what I’m doing. My passport expired before I could fill it. I can’t even order the right wine at a restaurant. People will criticize me and point out that I’m not perfect and, as he always does, he so eloquently stated, “The best teachers are those who have made their own mistakes.”

One of the scariest things I have ever had to do was to give up the image that was given to me. To scratch the paint from the canvas and begin anew. It’s easy to play into what people perceive. That’s the easy way. The simple route. And I suppose I could have kept on that path. But I knew if I never admitted I was wrong, I could never make it right.

I guess that’s just it. True intelligence, real wisdom comes from the ability to accept that one has no idea what she is talking about or what she is doing. The humility to concede that there is a lot more to learn. There will still be more outfit posts and style forecasts. To deny that would be to deny a part of me. I threw my first temper tantrum at the tender age of two over a pair of patent leather Mary-Janes, for Heaven’s sake. However, WhyDid.com will be a place to ask questions, to be open, to be honest. I certainly don’t have it all figured out, but I’m happy to take you along with me while I try.

WhyDid Wisdom: A Beginner’s Guide to Paris

By |March 5th, 2015|WhyDid Wisdom|

sunset eiffel tower parisA little over a month ago, I boarded a plane headed to a city I had always dreamt about going.  I romanticized it in my mind.  I built a pedestal and placed it there.  I was in love with somewhere I’d never seen with my own eyes.  This type of fantasizing can be treacherous territory and upon takeoff, my stomach and mind were aflutter with mixed feelings and emotions.  Could it live up to my ideals?  Would I be disappointed?  Was my mental image better than the reality?  Was it going to be like your favorite book being slaughtered when made into a movie?  Would it be meeting your favorite movie star only to find out he/she is a grade A asshole?  Nothing a few mini bottles of wine couldn’t mask for the next six and some change hours.  Watching movies on an airplane provide iPad, a little light reading, a full meal, and a few naps later, we touched down in my dream destination.  If you kept up with my adventures in parts un, deux, et trois, you know where I was and how deeply in love I fell.  I’ve even threatened my beloved Manhattan of abandonment.  While, I touched on a few things I learned on my journey in my last installment, there were plenty of other helpful traveling tips that I meant to write down in the moment, but will have to do now. Full disclosure: this is by no means a list that Conde Nast is going to stumble upon and syndicate. This is simply an American amateur’s take away from her first (of many future) visit to Paris, the city of light.

paris sunset paris perfect

  • A tip I actually did pick up from Conde Nast Traveler, was to skip the ritzy (and very pricey) hotels and rent an authentic Parisian apartment.  You could go the Airbnb route or there are plenty of specifically dedicated vacation apartment rental companies in Paris.  I used Paris Perfect and they were a dream to work with (not to mention the view of the Eiffel Tower from our claw foot bathtub).
  • Learn this phrase, “Anglais, s’il vous plait.” (English, please).  Everyone speaks English in Paris for the most part, however, many will start speaking to you in French (probably praying that you do, in fact, speak French).  A lot of people will greet you in both French and English to see in which you respond.  Also learn “bonsoir” (good evening), “allo” (hello), “merci” (thank you), “oui” (yes), “non” (no), “excusez-moi” (excuse me).  Learning “poussez” (push) and “tirez” (pull) will also help you not look like an idiot when it comes to doors.
  • If you have a little bit of French in your language arsenal, use it the best you can. We asked a native Parisian friend if it was more rude to slaughter the language or to act like an entitled American and not even attempt it.  Her take was that it was charming when tourists tried to speak in foreign tongue.
  • Have the address handy.  You may think that you’ve pronounced the name correctly, but with an accent, Montague and Montaigne can quickly be confused by your driver and you’ll end up at the wrong destination.
  • Drink champagne.  The only decision you’ll need to make is rosé or brut.
  • Eat bread.  For whatever reason (though there are theories) many of my normally gluten sensitive friends have reported little to no issues carb loading abroad.
  • Don’t order a cheeseburger.  While the club sandwich seems to be on every menu at every brasserie in the city, slip out of your comfort zone and try something you can’t get in the U.S. or your own hometown.
  • On that note, don’t be an American cliche.  Try and dress the part.  Upside: the less makeup, the better.  Mascara, lipstick, messy hair, and good shoes.
  • Tips are included in the bill. There’s no need to tip unless your service was truly extraordinary.
  • BYOD (bring your own dog). My own dog is still throwing a temper tantrum about being left behind.
  • Take advantage of the January sales.  I didn’t shop the entire time I was there (don’t get me started), but you should.
  • Do the more touristy things on the weekdays.  Don’t forget that Europe is fairly small and many people from countries nearby, come in for the weekend to explore as well.
  • I didn’t learn this until after I returned home, but flirting is a form of pleasantry.  Be prepared to exchange banter with just any member or the opposite sex.  My energy tends to be a bit more closed off to this type of behavior, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll have to be a little more open to flattery.
  • Unlike New York, things close quite a bit earlier.  Take advantage of your evening and the extra couple of hours of sleep you’ll get in order to wake up early and do it all over again.

WhyDid Wisdom: Love Me

By |February 14th, 2015|Why Did You Date Him?, WhyDid Wisdom|

lovesomuchMy lobby’s front desk has been covered in flower deliveries all day long.  These aren’t the carnations and baby’s breath variety either.  There are a lot of people being spoiled florally today.  And florists are making their first quarter sales marks in a stride.

After getting up this morning and heading to yoga at Strala, I walked home from Soho and spent a solid ten minutes at my favorite flower stand off of 6th Avenue deciding which shade of roses I wanted to give myself for Valentine’s Day.  I proudly carried the bouquet in the crook of my arm the rest of the way home while bopping along to my latest iTunes playlist. Years ago, I would have felt embarrassed about being my own Valentine, but after years of anti climatic and at times even traumatic Valentine’s Days, I’m happy to be a party of one.

I think the largest flaw with Valentine’s Day lies in the fact that so many people set themselves up for disappointment.  Movies, and TV shows, love stories, and even tabloids have given us these grandiose ideas of what love is all about.  When we are met with hand written notes instead of shiny new Maybachs in the driveway, we end up thinking that we are missing the mark.  We’ve been fed an ideal of what love is that can only lead to unmet expectations and resentment.  However, love comes in so many other forms than romance.  Also, romance doesn’t always necessarily guarantee love.  There are very few people you can always count on.  If you have more than a few, consider yourself lucky.  And without getting into spiritual beliefs (which I have), there’s really only one person you can count on and that’s yourself.  The only person’s behavior you are in complete control over is your own, so if you want to be spoiled, or loved, maybe it’s time you start doing it yourself.  This is a practice called “self love” and while it does include the stigma you are thinking of, that’s not all that it equates to.

There are plenty of ways to pamper yourself- whether material or mental and below are some thoughts on how to show yourself some love this Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year for that matter:

  1. Yoga and meditation
  2. A long shower complete with your favorite sugar or coffee scrub.
  3. A bubble bath that rivals Pretty Woman.
  4. Indulge in spa day or just splurge on a footrub at your favorite spot for pedicures.
  5. Enjoying a bottle of your favorite bubbly all by yourself.
  6. Watching every single episode of your favorite guilty pleasure.
  7. Getting lost in a library and then lost in a book.
  8. Decking yourself out just because.
  9. Getting your hair blown out with no plans in sight.
  10. Cooking your favorite meal.
  11. Buying yourself something instead of waiting for someone else to (and because you’ve worked hard for it, dang it!).

valentines gift guide

1. Chinti and Parker Love Intarsia Wool and Cashmere Sweater, 2. Bella Freud Parfum Loving Tuberose and Sandalwood Candle, 3. Deborah Lippman Nail Polish in Shape of My Heart, 4. Rosamosario Amori Lineari Lace Trimmed Silk Crepe de Chine Robe, 5. Stuart Weitzman Lovefringe Suede Sandals, 6. Jennifer Meyer Je T’Aime 18k Gold Necklace, 7. L’Agent by Agent Provocateur Alyce Stretch Mesh Plunge Bra and Stretch Mesh Briefs, 8. Equipment Signature Printed Washed Silk Pajama Set, 9. KENZO Kalifornia Clutch, 10. NARS Audacious Lipstick in Marlene



Why Did You Wear That: On the Six

By |December 3rd, 2014|Why Did You Wear That?, WhyDid Wisdom|

why did blog sixth birthday cake

When I actually published my first post is debatable (as I made a switch from Tumblr to WordPress very early on), but it was six years ago, give or take a few days.  That first post wasn’t prolific or groundbreaking and at the time I had not one clue as to what I was doing or where it would lead me.  WhyDid has evolved as have I over the past six years.  It even underwent a name change (from Why Did You Wear That) to encompass the expansion of topics from celebrity cameltoe (most popularly Katy Perry‘s) to all things fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.  I came pretty close to a name change myself, but fortunately dodged that bullet.  There have been times when I wanted to just scrap the whole operation and revert back to normal.  One of those times came from a nasty commenter who told me my blog was just like “some dumb diary” where I recorded my life and outfits.

denim-shirt-scotch-and-soda-nyc-whydidI guess she (he?!) was right.  This is kind of like my diary, except I share my stories and my troubles and my outfits publicly not for any narcissistic reason, but so anyone who stumbles upon my site finds a place where she/he can spend a few minutes a day laughing, or feeling understood, or getting inspired to try something new.  The fashion world and the world wide web can be very scary places, but I wanted to create somewhere safe.  Somewhere kindred spirits could meet and know that they are not alone in the world and that any silly life trauma we might be going through isn’t that serious.  Sharing my life is not only scary, but also therapeutic.  By sharing so much, I open myself up to people who are negative and feed off of knocking people down, but by sharing I also open myself up to people who may need to hear exactly what I have to share.  So, I let the good outweigh the bad.

why did blog kirsten smithAs someone who hates having her picture taken (though all evidence would suggest otherwise), it was pretty uncomfortable to start posting photos of myself and one guy I dated told me fairly early on that I looked incredibly uncomfortable in my photos (I was).  I’ve been told my eyebrows were too light (enter Anastasia of Beverly Hills), my boobs appeared saggy, and that I looked like just another Southern California girl (even though I’ve lived 97% of my life on the East Coast).  If I said that I didn’t initially feel incredibly hurt by these comments, I’d be lying.  I nursed my wounds for several days each time and confirmed with friends that my breasts were, in fact, as perky as those of a 19 year old over topless chats on FaceTime.  Being dissected by people I’d never met was painful, but it opened my eyes to the scrutiny that we put celebrities and each other under all the time and it changed my perspective.

kirsten-whydid-nyc-dog-walkingRealizing that was helpful, but sometimes stopped me from expressing what I really wanted.  Over the years, I found myself censoring… myself.  I played it safe at times so as not to offend or alienate people.  Sometimes I had to dilute stories or descriptions because I knew my parents were reading or because I was worried someone I cared about might get offended.  What I learned was that people appreciated it more when I crossed the line.  When I said something outlandish or because I was being myself, I allowed my readers to feel comforted or validated in their own lives, to feel a part of something bigger.  There are plenty of people out there playing it safe and repeating what the media and society has programmed us to think, feel, wear, watch, and say.  I didn’t start WhyDid to be just another brick in the wall.  That’s the wall I wanted to knock down.

top-knot-crop-top-whydid-blog copyI didn’t write this post to pat myself on the back (though I certainly hugged myself earlier), but to thank you and to promise to continue sharing my life and my authentic self and to encourage you to do the same.  Know that as scary as it can be to just be yourself, it’s the safest thing you can do.  So, don’t be afraid to shine.  You can be weird.  You can be emotional.  You can have different opinions.  You can march to the beat of your own damn drum, but don’t you dare ever hide the beauty that is you.

And in case you were wondring, Katy Perry’s cameltoe is still the most searched term that leads to WhyDid.