What's Mercury Retrograde? Here's The 411 | Clozette


Astrology has been around for a long time. But it wasn't until this year that people really got into it, with monthly Zodiac predictions popping up everywhere and people really taking their sign compatibilities seriously. However, one concept that really caught our attention is the 'Mercury retrograde' phenomenon.


Almost everyone — whether in real life or on social media — suddenly began using this phrase in relation to a mishap or a minor inconvenience, much to the confusion of non-astrology fanatics. So with November being the last month of the year that will be hit by this phenomenon, we say it's time to get the 411 on Mercury Retrograde season. 


Mercury = misfortune? 


Before we actually talk about whether or not Mercury is actually an 'unlucky' planet, let's talk about astrological beliefs in general. Its age-old practice relates to the personality and lifestyle of individuals being led by heavenly bodies and the four main elements. Therefore, a change in the movements of these planets or stars, as well as the relationship of the elements with each other (water extinguishes fire and more), is said to affect how a person can relate to someone with a similar or a different sign. 




But where does Mercury fall into all this? Being the planet mostly attributed to all types of communication, including non-verbal practices like buying or selling, Mercury going retrograde (a.k.a. moving backwards in the orbit) is seen as a sign of delay, confusion or miscommunication. It is also said to govern all forms of contracts and agreements, so this season is also said to be a bad time to strike a deal with someone. However, it's not all that negative. This phenomenon is also related to a lot of reflection and introspection, given that intuition is said to be sharper during this time. Interesting, right? But let's dive even deeper into its origins and actual scientific basis. 

On science and mythology


If you're familiar with mythology (or the Percy Jackson books), Hermes, also known as Mercury, is the messenger of the gods. Aside from this, he is also known as the patron of travellers, merchants, poets, writers, and even thieves. He's also depicted as a prankster and the only god who can travel everywhere in the cosmos. So he may not be a major god like Zeus, Poseidon or Hades, but his influence towards mortals is widely believed during ancient times. This further translates to today's idea of Mercury retrograde. 




Moving on to science: Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun and, therefore, orbits a lot shorter than the Earth. It doesn't really move backwards, but only gives the illusion of doing so at certain times of the year. Then, once the Earth reaches a certain point in its orbit, Mercury is seen to suddenly move forward. Now, imagine being an astronomer or astrologer 2,500 years ago (when astrology was created) and seeing this phenomenon and wondering about the inconsistencies of the heavenly body's movement. If eclipses were viewed as bad omens, just think of the panic this might have caused. 




These days, people who still practice and believe in astrology attributes this astronomical illusion as Mercury's way of sending our plans and relationships in a whiplash. This sudden 'turbulence' in the movement of the guiding heavenly body is said to be what causes our daily experiences to go disarray. 



How long does it last?


Mercury retrograde, much like the solstice or the seasonal patterns, does not have a distinct calendar schedule. It all depends on astronomical patterns and, therefore, varies every year. However, the usual span of this phenomenon is 20 days, often at the earlier days of a certain month leading to its peak. Many also try to track it in line with their Zodiacs, because it is believed that certain signs get affected even more when the retrograde strikes coinciding with their guiding stars. 




What to do next


Whether this entire discussion convinced you to give importance to Mercury retrograde or not, it's all up to you. There's no harm in following a bit of superstition or astrology, similar to how we find joy in looking at predictions related to our star sign. However, at the end of the day, owning up to our decisions and taking care of our relationships are things that we should take responsibility for. 


Need to satisfy your astrology fix? Check out the rest of our zodiac stories here!

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Style is not always about the price tag. From thrifting to clothing rentals, this month, we’ll be exploring popular money-saving tips and practices that will help us look good for less.


Imagine yourself having a weekend stroll at the mall. You chance upon this wonderful piece on a mannequin in a store’s display. Your heart starts to beat just a tad bit faster and you smile widely in delight — you’ve totally fallen in love with it and you must definitely have it. Familiar? Of course, everyone has probably experienced this thrill of shopping at least once in their life. The automatic course of action for most of us is to go ahead and purchase. Still, what we covet don’t always match our initial expectations. And later on, when we finally get to use it, that’s only when buyer’s remorse hits and we realise that the fashionable piece we wanted might not be for us at all. 


Living in style shouldn’t be costly, but it hurts us and our pockets when these unfortunate shopping experiences occur. Ahead, six women spill the deets on the piece they regret buying and give us tips on how we can avoid buyer’s remorse and save money once and for all.


Bella Angeles


Bella Angeles on tips to avoid buyer's remorse

Bella wearing her white elephant-sleeved top


“This elephant-sleeved top would have to be my most regrettable purchase to date. I bought this at a local bazaar and it looked so good on the mannequin. I was in a rush then and I needed a top to complete my look for a photoshoot, so I didn't bother trying it on first. But when I wore it, despite getting compliments because of it, I was secretly sulking ‘cause the top did not make me feel confident. It wasn't a perfect fit and I badly needed double sided-tapes just to make it work on me. I'm grateful for this experience because it taught me to never avoid the fitting room. What looks great on a mannequin might not look good on me. Since then, I always try on any item I think about buying.”



Nicole Chang Min


Nicole Chang Min and her denim dress

Left: Nicole (Photo from: @nicolechangmin); Right: Nicole wearing the denim bodycon dress


“I wanted to do a YouTube review on Aliexpress clothes to see whether we’ll be getting good quality items for the affordable price we are paying. I got this bodycon denim dress as it looked very flattering on the model and in the store’s pictures, but when I received it, the material felt cheap and the dress felt like it could get torn at any moment. I ended up giving the denim dress away to someone who thought it looked nice. 

Because of that, I learned not to purchase items based on site images. They're usually inaccurate because the items can look fabulous on the model because of photo editing or maybe they really just have a stunning body. When buying online, consider a lot of factors before purchasing. Ask yourself, for example, do I really need this piece in my closet? Do I already have something similar? How timeless is this piece? Always look out for the measurements and have a measuring tape on standby when shopping online. Lastly, check out if there are reviews from real buying customers to make your shopping experience even better.”




Zoey Phoon



“I got this dress from an online shop because I liked the look of it and I needed a dress for my birthday. However, when it came, it didn't fit. The quality was slightly off and it also wasn't as luxurious a piece as it was in the picture. So it wouldn’t go to waste, I tried to wear it out but I wasn't comfortable with it. Eventually, I just donated it. So, when buying from online shops, I’ve learnt to not always believe the pictures. It’s best to do a little more research into the brand and pieces before spending.”



Jho Del Pilar


Jho Del Pilar and her neon dress

Left: Jho (Photo from: @jhodesaga); Right: Jho's neon dress


“I got this high-low dress a few years ago. At that time, I was deeply obsessed with blinding neon colours. So if an item that has those colours sparks my interest, I'd nudge my mum to buy it. To be honest, it took me years to figure out what to do with it. I was constantly saving it, believing I could wear it for an event. Hopefully, a neon-themed party would happen, but none of my friends never had that motif. So I ended up trying to sell it on Carousell, but no one ever bought it.


I was young and back then, I felt like whatever I set my eyes on will make meaning once I have it on my hands. It was just that later on when I got a bit older that I realised that it’s important to have better buying decisions in life — especially because I have no more extra space in my room."




Katie Yong



“The one piece that I regret buying was this pink bag. I wanted to use it as a school bag back then but what was I thinking? It just ended up sitting in my wardrobe! I regret getting it in the large size because I am petite and it just doesn't look right on me on most days. It is still sitting in my wardrobe after all these years and I am still thinking of how to use it. Lesson learnt for me: I will never buy a huge bag with tiny handles ever.”



Lumi 


Lumi wearing her white knit top


“I was attracted to the knit pattern of the top and it was the perfect off-white cream colour that I love. Apart from my liking knitwear clothing, the other funny reason why I actually bought it was because I was cold in the mall, so basically, I was drawn to its warmth. On top of that, it was on sale, so there was no need to consider if I must have it because it's cheap, pretty and feels comfortable. I regretted it later on though when I realised that I couldn't wear it anywhere in Malaysia without feeling too warm for the weather since the material was rather thick. It was only worn once when I brought it to Japan during spring.


Since then, it has just been hanging in my closet. It didn't even catch anyone's attention when I sold it with my other pre-loved clothes due to its unflattering boxy silhouette. I’ve given up trying to sell it, and I’ve now re-purposed it into a furniture décor since it can pass off looking like a knitted rug. Learned my lesson to never impulsively purchase even if it's on sale.”



Can relate? Buyer’s remorse is a perennial problem for most fashion mavens. Fashion should be fun, but a little mindfulness when purchasing counts.



Next, find out what it’s really like to rent clothes.

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Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.


When it comes to fashion, most people tend to focus on the creative side of things that allow the artistic expression of both the designer and the wearer. True, the eye-catching creations and the trends they start are part of what breathes life into the industry, but it’s really much more than that. Behind the glitz and glam is a world of business and analytics that is equally filled with inspiring passion as much as its creative counterpart. To know more about the other side of the coin, we had a chat with XIXILI’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tara Tan, whose work gives us a glimpse of the side of fashion that’s barely given the spotlight.


Tara Tan, XIXILI's Chief Marketing Officer


A homegrown Malaysian brand, XIXILI is known to uplift women by providing innerwear that’s comfortable, functional, and fashionable for all shapes and sizes. Having a retail and e-commerce background in the cosmetics and fashion industry, Tara helps with the brand’s expansion by conveying a message of empowerment to all women. Read on and see how it really all is from the point of view of a woman working behind the scenes to create fashion that’s comfortable and inspiring.


Fill in the blank: I am a marketer and _____.


"A risk-taker and a nature lover."


What do you love most about working in fashion marketing and retail? 


"What interests me is that it’s quite an innovative industry. There are lots of disruptions and changes — the culture today is different, the way businesses are run is different, and, therefore, the way we communicate is very different. With that, you get to look into different ways of doing things, analyse systems and processes, and innovate them into new processes." 



On the business side of fashion, what's something most aren't aware of?


"It’s not as fun or trendy as it might come across as — a lot of it does come down to analytics and data. But more importantly, the marketing side is also a place where you can send an empowering message. At XIXILI, for one, we’re able to convey a message to the community, to help make the women around us claim their right to feel confident in their own skin no matter how they may choose to present or define themselves." 



What are the biggest challenges you've faced in your career?


"Having an idea is great but executing an idea is incredibly difficult. One of the biggest challenges I sometimes face is being able to properly translate my thoughts and ideas to someone else so we can execute it. In that level, communication is key, but communication is also very difficult. Working in XIXILI, communicating the brand’s message to others is also a task, given that Malaysia is a very conservative country. Aside from that, we have to consider that our local and international market is made up of people that have different languages and cultures. And speaking to women of different cultures is very difficult — different people will perceive things differently. There’s a lot of limitations on what we can do. But that actually turned out to be a great thing, because it pushed us to be creative with what we do."



In what other ways does XIXILI help encourage women empowerment? 


"Aside from our extensive size range, we also offer other products like nursing undergarments and other accessories to help women be more comfortable with their body, health, and sexuality. This year, we’ve done fashion shows and it was the first time we included plus-size and pregnant models. We also organise drives to bring awareness to breast cancer." 


Let's talk about XIXILI's fashion show featuring women of all shapes and sizes. How does it feel to work behind the scenes of such an event?


"We had that idea for a couple of years now, we thought that maybe there’d be some kind of backlash, but we thought that conveying our message was more important. Still, it was hard for us to find people who’d be keen to walk the show. In Malaysia, we don’t have a lot of plus-size models who’d be willing to walk in lingerie — actually, for some models, it was the first time they’ve ever walked the catwalk so that terrified me before the show. But it actually went great. One of the models almost tripped and the crowd cheered for her. After the show, we heard positive comments. It was incredible to be part of it. It makes me so proud of the models, of the team who executed this, and of the audience as well who received it so well and showed so much support."




Work always comes with some challenges. How do you de-stress yourself from all that? 


"I actually turn off my phone for a few days and disconnect from technology for a bit. I’m a nature person so I love scuba diving, free-diving, sailing, hiking — I always go outdoors and return to nature." 


Can you share with us a tip on how ladies can boost their confidence?


"Know your strength and also know your weaknesses. If you have this level of self-awareness, you can go through life with confidence. You will be able to execute things. Knowing what you can do and can’t do, you’d know when to ask for help. And, of course, what you wear boosts your confidence. Wear the right clothes, wear the right lingerie, and wear the right fit."



Tara Tan


What are your Clozette essentials? 


"I actually always have a pair of t-shirts and shorts in my car. Some days in the office, we have to go to the warehouse to help out, and it’s hot so I have my t-shirt and shorts. Also, at night, when we go out because we live in a tropical country, t-shirt and shorts always help."


How would you describe your style?


"A little bit comfort, a little bit casual. I always wear blocks of colours and my outfits are very practical for what I do. I’m usually in a shift dress, but if I need to move from store to store for work, I’m in jeans, so I can move around and get things done." 


This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.



Read more empowering stories of women here.

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