Who is Zara
I’m a 26-year-old Pennsylvania transplant living in Chicago. I’m a Pisces and I think my personality is really very much in line with the description of my sign – I have always been very creative. I recently accepted a job heading up content and social media at a startup called Savor and I’m really excited about that new role. I also work as the Fashion and Beauty Editor at Coed Media and blog at STATEMENT/scene. I’m always happiest when I’m juggling a few different projects!
My interests and ambitions
I’m interested in writing and digital media (obviously!) I hope writing is always a big part of my life and career – I’d love to publish a book at some point. I also really love theatre, reading, travelling and trying new restaurants – I love food. I’m also a TV addict and like most girls, I could shop all day. I’ve been very lucky: I get to make a living by writing about the things that interest me (like food, pop culture, the arts, fashion, travel.) My favorite way to spend my free time is with my family and friends, though. I think you really start to appreciate the people in your life more and more as you get older.
I moved to Chicago for grad school nearly three years ago – I went to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. I barely knew anyone in Chicago before I moved here but I had never heard a bad thing about the city. My favorite thing about Chicago is just the overall vibe. It’s definitely a big city but the quality of life is really great. There’s a great buzz but at the same time, things don’t move so fast that you have no time to enjoy yourself.
Chicago & Fashion
The fashion scene in Chicago is interesting. Overall I think it’s quite conventional and commercial and you don’t always come across people on the street who seem like they really enjoy the process of getting dressed. With that being said, there are a ton of emerging designers in the city – and the fact that so many luxury brands recently opened here really says something.
Overall I think fashion is moving away from the very glamorous, put-together look to something a lot more effortless and casual, maybe even a little bit androgynous. If you look at a lot of the things that have been really popular recently – like boyfriend jeans, slip-on sneakers, printed jogger pants, hoodless sweatshirts – you’ll notice a distinct tomboy vibe. It’s all about being comfortable and not looking like you tried so hard. I actually don’t see much of that aesthetic around Chicago but I do hope it catches on because I really love it.
Places to go when in Chicago
I love places like Nellcote, Pump Room and RPM for dinner. If it’s nice outside, you can’t beat a good rooftop lounge like Drumbar. I just had a really wonderful brunch at Lula Café and would definitely recommend that as well. RM Champagne Salon is gorgeous, Big Star is a ton of fun and there are too many wonderful little restaurants that fly under the radar to name. One of my favorite things to do it just go to a new neighborhood and wander around with no real plans. There’s a lot to see in Chicago! Obviously if you’re visiting, you can’t leave without trying deep dish pizza. #TeamLouMalnatis
How Chicago helped my growth
Moving to Chicago definitely forced me to get out of my comfort zone and grow up a little bit. I barely knew anyone here when I moved and I had no idea it would be so hard to meet like-minded people. I think I’ve gotten better at relating to people even if we don’t have a lot in common. The East Coast is really different than the Midwest so moving here was a bit of adjustment. I have no regrets.
If you’re moving here, you should know this..
You should know that you’ll definitely need an extremely thick winter coat and great snow boots. You will probably consider moving to Florida circa your first January in Chicago. You should also know that staying in one neighborhood all the time is a complete waste when you live in a big city. Don’t be one of those people who moves here and goes to the same three restaurants/bars/streets all the time!
“Don’t settle: Don’t finish crappy books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it.”
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated”
Wisdom I’ve acquired and want to share with you
Don’t be afraid to do something unconventional. If everyone else around you is getting a 9-5 and that just doesn’t interest you, know you have other options. Start a company. Freelance. Do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel fulfilled. I freelanced full time for a while and even though it was often frustrating and unpredictable, it was an amazing creative challenge. It’s definitely something I want to do again at some point. It’s just senseless to compare yourself to anyone else. There will always be someone who is rising faster or making more money or getting more recognition – and with social media the way it is right now, there will DEFINITELY be people who inflate their accomplishments to maintain a certain image. Just tune it out and pursue whatever interests and inspires you.
Eastern Street Style
While everyone is always talking about the street style in Russia and France, one of my favorite international street style blogs is actually from Iran! The Tehran Times showcases really fashionable looks and is shot beautifully. On a deeper level, I like that it shows a side to Iran that most people don’t even know exists. I really think street style is much more than pictures of what people are wearing – style is a major part of the cultural equation and I think international street style is fascinating because you get a little glimpse of what people value in other places. I also love Pakistani street style. I follow a few accounts on Instagram and I’m consistently impressed by how fashion-forward they are.
Nancy Abdul Rahman