Zaful Review: Tan Chiffon Shorts + Maroon Scalloped Bikini

summer flatlay
In exchange for an honest review, I received these tan chiffon shorts and this maroon scalloped bikini from Zaful, an online retailer. All opinions are my own.

Before shooting these photos, I pranced over to the kitchen to grab the pineapple my family had bought during our last grocery shopping trip--I wanted to be cheeky and match the real thing to the print on my shirt. Unfortunately, my dad had just sliced and refrigerated the fruit the night before, so that meant no pineapple for these review photos. Moral of the story: sometimes things don't turn out as you hope or expect, and this lesson applies just as well to my experience with Zaful.

When I first received Zaful's collaboration inquiry, I immediately began scouring their site for versatile pieces--I always try to select clothing that I would buy myself and could see myself wearing often. The website was navigable and crisp, so there was no trouble there. I especially liked how some listings had model stats, like this dress, so you could measure potential fit beyond numbers.

But about that dress--this is where my pineapple lesson applies first. I originally selected the shorts, the bikini, and the dress, but I instead received the shorts and two sets of the bikini. Though I didn't place my order through the site--I did it by email with the outreach coordinator--I was nonetheless disappointed to receive the wrong items when I had clearly listed three separate pieces. Since this was a collaboration and not a normal purchase, I assume (and hope) that the site would be more deliberate in making amends. Their wrong product policy promises to provide a solution as long as there is proper documentation. As for me, I received an apology and the promise of receiving the dress in a future collaboration (though to be completely honest, most companies don't want to continue collaborating after my candid reviews, and that's totally okay). 

On a brighter note, the shipping was speedy for an Asian retailer, clocking in at just five days through DHL. If an order totals over $30, shipping is free.
zaful review tan shorts
zaful review tan shorts
If I had to pick a favorite between the two items, I'd say that these shorts win. Here's the breakdown:

Appearance: 4/5
I liked versatile tan/beige tone of the shorts, as well as the fun bow sash. The frilly waistband, however, mystified me--it looked so much better in the website photos (pineapple lesson part two). So, I instead opted to tuck the extra material in, making for a much more streamlined look.

Sizing: 5/5
After taking a gander at the size chart, I ordered a size small, and the fit was just right. While many Asian retailers run small, fit wasn't a problem here. Pay close attention to the charts, reviews, and model stats (if available), and you should be good.

Quality: 5/5
I also had few comments here--the shorts were double-layered so I felt comfortable wearing them as is (I usually wear spandex under flowy shorts), and still light enough to suit summer. Stitching was also careful and strong, which is important for chiffon material.

Value: 3.5/5
When I first stumbled upon these shorts, they were listed around $15. Now, they're $20.49. Had these stayed on sale, these would've been a solid 4.5/5. Because I happen to be one of the most frugal people you'll meet and because of the funky waistband, I'd say value is this piece's greatest deficiency.

zaful swimsuit review
When shooting photos for a blog review in a bathing suit, start doing yoga?
zaful swimsuit review
I was most excited about this scalloped bikini, so it was a bit of a letdown when it wasn't the perfect bathing suit I envisioned. Here's the breakdown:

Appearance: 4/5
I'm a huge fan of the flattering color and trendy scalloped trim--it's what originally drew me to the suit. I was disappointed, however, with the design of the bottoms. The scalloped trim for the leg holes (there has to be a more elegant phrasing of this haha) ended up bunching awkwardly on me, so I again tucked in the funky trim (pineapple lesson part three). As you can see, the trim also sometimes ends up curling in on its own in the waistband, so there's another aspect of the appearance I don't love.

Sizing: 4/5
I ordered a size medium after reading reviews, and the suit fit me well. The chart for this piece, however, was incredibly confusing. Bust measurements were in the twenties, which is totally unreasonable. After measuring the set itself, I think I know why--instead of listing the human measurements for which each size would fit, the site listed the actual piece's measurements. This was inconsistent with Zaful's other clothing and swimwear listings, so the chart really threw me off. I attempted to contact support using their online chat feature, but after waiting for over five minutes, I called it quits and instead contacted the outreach coordinator. Since the suit had no clasps, sizing was especially important. So, if you're also perplexed by questionable measurements, try your best to reach out to customer service and consider whether the chart may list the actual piece's stats. 

Quality: 3.5/5
This is the suit's biggest area for improvement--as you can see in the last photo, the scalloped trim isn't always smoothly-cut. While this hiccup was in the crotch area and therefore not very visible, it's possible for these imperfections to show up anywhere. In the first suit I received, there were no problems, but in the second, there was that jagged trim. I also expected the suit to be made of more durable material--instead, it's made of a slightly-shiny cloth that's vaguely reminiscent of costume material and is a bit itchy after longer periods of wear. 

Another important note: the cups in the top aren't removeable, and they easily shift about. Be careful if you're being active while wearing this suit, and be sure to check cup placement after throwing this in the wash, because the bikini top may come out with a strange hump in the center.

Value: 4/5
As an $11.35 trendy bikini set, this is still a pretty good deal, flaws and all. It's not the most comfortable suit to wear, but it's one of my favorite cuts. As long as I'm careful about the drooping trim and very mobile cups, I'd be happy to wear this on my beach outings, and I even plan to take the bathing suit with me abroad.

The final verdict for Zaful? I'm a fan of the site's trendy, quirky pieces, the helpful model stats, the affordable prices, and the quick shipping. I caution you, however, of the sometimes-perplexing product details, the potentional order gaffes, and unexpected aesthetic realities. 

If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to shoot me an email--I'll do my best to be helpful. Happy shopping, or happy saving!

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Street Style Roundup + Reflections on Seemingly-Frivolous Pursuits

All photos from my street style blog, Posh Pedestrian (Facebook and Tumblr)

Earlier last week, my parents and I had a passionate debate about the merits of seemingly-frivolous pursuits. 

I dreamt of longer endurance races, solo roadtrips, and extended time abroad. They just wanted me to prepare for next summer's internship search, seriously contemplate life after graduation, and figure my life out. They were afraid that I'd invest all my energy into training and traveling, forgetting the reality of becoming an independent adult. 

I understood and sympathized, but I firmly believe that I can continue to balance my quest for self-growth in more spheres than just the practical. Perhaps I'm blinded by my upbringing in a financially-stable household, but I believe that there's a whole lot more to life than making a living. 

Futhermore, my seemingly-frivolous endeavors have shaped me immensely. As a sports-skeptic turned avid endurance athlete, I've learned that we are capable of much more than we imagine. From injuries, I've learned that unfortunate occurences don't have to stay that way--they can be blessings in disguise. They can push you to address your weaknesses and become even stronger. Running has empowered me in all spheres of my life, and that is so much more valuable to me than a stale resume-boosting experience.

As for my street-style blog? Well, if I didn't have my street style blog, I may not be studying abroad at Oxford next spring. Because of my penchant for capturing stylish passersby, I met an upperclassman from whom I was able to garner study abroad insight. Celine, the lovely human in the crisp white button-down and navy peacoat, had studied abroad for a year in Paris and Oxford. I was absolutely lost on what to do last winter, so we emailed back and forth over break. 

She told me to ask myself, "What is the most singular experience I can have only at this stage of my life?" I'd originally planned to apply to schools in Australia and New Zealand in the spring, but I realized that I could always enjoy the cultural highlights of those destinations later. I wouldn't, however, always be able to study at the University of Oxford (my freshman year dream).

And the rest is history. My passions, however unrelated to paving a career, have nonetheless influenced my life in just as valuable ways. So, as I seek balance, I will keep on chasing them.

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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: Dear Future Me...

dave staley triathlon
At the Dave Staley Triathlon--cheesin it up with my old high school running buddy
purple flowers
Gonna make myself poor from buying flowers...good thing these were only $2
midwestern wind turbines
Let's hit the road
"I've been given this one world--I won't worry it away" --Sara Bareilles, Many the Miles
fox in the snow cafe
Before you even think of eating your food at a cafe, take a million photos of everything, including the plants.
fox int he snow cafe
Food food food
rain and bokeh
Rain liberates--cheers to the most exhilarating of biking workouts in this torrential downpour
whole foods lunch
Nothing like a Whole Foods lunch--quinoa, vegan chicken, and sprouts
chicago pier
"Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes" --The Count of Monte Cristo film
You know you may have a slight problem when you stop the car, hop out just to take photos of ivy, and then keep driving where you were supposed to go...
smoothie in mason jar
When you make a non poop-colored smoothie, the world must see

Written originally in late June as an exercise from Shannon Kaiser's Adventures for Your Soul

Dear future me,

I see you laughing--not politely chuckling or tentatively giggling, but laughing freely. It's the kind of laugh that leaves you breathless, the kind that simultaneously empties and fills your soul.

It's the kind you know well from nights with your dorm family--from roaring over Cards Against Humanity, from being carried across campus piggyback-style, from dashing around the ping-pong table during seven-person matches.

It's the kind you captured briefly during a triathlon training session, where the your bike pedal flew off after a grueling trek through wheel-deep water on the flooded path. You were covered in mud, your clothes were drenched, your bike had just fallen apart, and you were the happiest you'd been in a long, long time. You were happy because nothing else mattered at that moment--nothing else but the thrill of unexpected adventure, nothing else but the good company of an old friend, nothing else but your embrace of whatever wackiness the world wielded.

I know you can feel that pervasive joy again. The joy that makes life more vibrant, the joy that fills those precious moments with inexplicable peace. That lingers in the air like the morning mist. That draws you to the present.

I see you laughing like that again, and I see you living--actively, unconventionally, exuberantly. I see you springing out of bed each morning to work that makes your heart soar. I see you pushing your notions of possible with endurance training. I see you taking good care of yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I see you surrounded with love and cleansed of insecurities. I see you maximizing your potential. I see you always remaining hungry--in more ways than one, of course, but my greatest hope is that your most ravenous desire is hunger to grow.

I see you, and I can't wait to meet you. Now may be tumultuous and disorienting, but these challenges will build you.

I will follow my heart, and I will find you.

Lots of love,
Your always imperfect idealist

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Clovers and Contemplation: Dust Blue Top and White Lace Dress

summer outfit, college fashion
summer outfit, college fashion
summer outfit, college fashion
summer outfit, college fashion
summer outfit, college fashion, jump shot
Top, thrifted | Dress, Kohl's | Moccasins, thrifted
Photos by my brother

She smiles and leaps through fields of clovers, but inside, she is broken. 

Inside, she is desperately seeking answers. She tears apart every decision, scrutinizing each shred--wondering what could've been. Did I choose the right major? Should I be leaving my campus family indefinitely to study abroad for a year? Do I really want to pursue graduate school?

At her cubicle internship, as she clicks away through the monotony of spreadsheets and webpages and government codes, she dreams of elsewhere. She dreams of a future unconstrained by the norms of adulthood. She dreams of an active, resonant lifestyle. She dreams of running 100-mile trail races, skinny dipping for body image solidarity in Australia, releasing golden lanterns into Taiwan's midnight blue evening sky, exploring dreamy cliffside European cities.

She dreams of her 10 months abroad in France and England, but she is afraid. 

As she plugs away through the days at home, she is unsettled, suspended. She is homeless at home--she and her old friends have grown accustomed to living in separate spheres. When she is physically near to them, she oddly feels more distant. Gone are the concerted efforts to catch up via skype and messages. Instead, here are the infrequent meetups filled with mutual angst of growing older.

As time passes, so does the distance between her and her school family. The heartfelt messages fall away to terse replies. Others have simply retreated to their home lives, offering nothing but opened messages and radio silence.

She wonders where she will find home again. Not her childhood city, where she is unstimulated and constrained. Not her campus, which will be filled with two grades of strangers upon her return--and where, perhaps, old connections may have become strangers. Not her destinations abroad, where she may struggle to communicate effectively and be baffled by the education system. Where she may spend nights alone yearning for stability and familiarity. Where she may struggle to find the same resonance she left behind.

She is afraid, and she is determined--afraid of the murky, uncharted waters, but determined to pierce the seas with dignity. She is hurt, and she is grateful--hurt by those she loves, but grateful for the warm memories. 

She knows all too well that humans change as swifty as the seasons transform a field of clovers. So she dusts herself off and embraces the wind, ready to dance again.

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