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Saturday, January 7th 2017

1:28 PM

A Fashion Memory: Lilly Pulitzer for Target

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Illustration of Victoria Moore in sleeveless pink and orange Giraffeeey print shift dress. Illustration drawn by Victoria Moore

   From the moment I saw the ad for Lilly Pulitzer for Target in Vogue magazine I knew I had to go down to my local Target and score some Lilly.Bright, vibrant and as fun as I remembered from my childhood in the 1960's and 1970's, when I originally fell in love with her, the thing I most enjoyed was being able to purchase her merchandise at an affordable price.

   Previously, when Prabal Gurung designed dresses for Target, I went to their Sale department and bought three of them. Recently I also added a Marimekko for Target Kukkatori floral tunic and a set of decorative blocks and Adam Lippes' wonderful red and beige plaid poncho, blue and white checked short-sleeved blouse and knit men's cap to my collection, when he was their collaborative designer.

   Despite Gurung, Marimekko and Lippes, my Lilly experience became a part of modern retail lore that I never thought I'd live to see. The fact that it included practically all the seven deadly sins and good old-fashioned generosity and sympathy made it profoundly memorable.

   

Lilly Pulitzer for Target halter top in Sea Urchin for You print

My Shopping Wish List

   Advertised as an event that you had to RSVP to online, I prepared my shopping wish list a couple of days before and wrote down everything I wanted to buy before xeroxing out the pictures and adding short notes and prices, that would help me purchase my selections once I got to Target. The pieces I wanted most were: 

  1. Satin Flounce Dress in Sea Urchin for You ($38)
  2. A Floral button-down shirt in Nosey Posey ($24)
  3. A Pair of pink and orange print palazzos in Giraffeeey ($28)

After preparing my list I carefully chose a comfortable, but stylish outfit to wear to the event, a gray DKNY tie-front cardie over a gray short-sleeved top and black and white checked leggings.

     

Victoria Moore in the halter top and a blue A-line denim skirt. Illustration drawn by Victoria Moore

The Store:

   Even though I live close to my local Target, and it only takes one short bus ride to get there, I'd rarely visited before my Lilly journey. Departing around 10:00 a.m., when I assumed the store opened for business, I arrived around 10:30 a.m. anticipating a swanky fashion shin dig knee deep in Lilly clad guests and racks of freshly unpacked merchandise. When I went to the Women's Department to inquire about it I was told the only thing left, after the store opened at 8:00 a.m., was a pink and white bikini hanging in the dressing room area.

   Saddened and frustrated I complained to the clerk and a couple of customers, waiting by the dressing rooms, about how fast everything went. Whether they were saints in disguise or just compassionate fellow shoppers, a mother and daughter I befriended during my tirade, graciously let me have a white top accented with colorful embroidery, an orange boho top, two print makeup bags and a travel case in the blue, pink and white My Fans print. 

   "You look just like one of the Lilly Pulitzer models she used in Florida," the mother told me. "They were all tall and thin like you."

    After the pair gave me my new swag they advised me to search the store for discarded Lilly's because that's where they'd found most of their stuff. I then looked throughout the entire store twice, without success, so I headed to the check-out counter with my items, and another chapter for my retail story of woe. When it was my turn to pay, I repeated my misadventure to the cashier, who said, "I almost forgot, I have this stuff back here," and showed me a sleeveless pink and orange Giraffeeey print shift dress, a blue and white Sea Urchin for You print halter top, a gold seahorse necklace, a set of dishes and a lamp. Another clerk then brought over a print wristlet purse she thought I might like. Feeling blessed and immensely lucky with my effortless hunt I decided to buy the dress, halter top, and seahorse necklace, and leave the rest for another Lilly fan.

 

Lilly Pulitzer for Target makeup and travel bags

    

Lilly Pulitzer for Target Seahorse Necklace

The Real World of Lilly

   Unfortunately all of the consumers looking for Lilly's weren't as magnanimous as these wonderful ladies because some used this choice retail opportunity to profit further by re-selling their items for exorbitant prices on ebay. While talking to the mother and daughter in the dressing room area, a customer who later joined us said, "I overheard another customer saying I'm going to re-sell my dress on ebay for $100.00."

   I didn't want to believe it of my fellow budget fashionistas, but when I got home and logged onto ebay, I was confronted with the ugly truth of Lilly Pulitzer for Target merchandise listed for twice of what they cost at Target initially. My dream of seeing the same type of  beautiful, accessible and stylish separates I remembered from the 1960's to the 1980's offered to every woman at an affordable price could've been dashed if I hadn't met so many fabulous people who made my dream come true that day. I hope this is a pattern that will be repeated often on my future shopping trips.

    

Together the colors, shapes and silhouettes make a lovely view

 

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Wednesday, December 28th 2016

2:55 PM

Socks Add Pop and Pep With Style

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Victoria Moore in black and white striped mini dress and black short pants accessorized with pink and blue Hello Kitty socks and beige sandals

Illustration by Victoria Moore

Knox in box. Fox in socks.

-Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss

   Ever since I was in junior high, and wore a pair of multicolored toe socks with open-toed sandals and cuffed jeans, I've been in love with the "sock and sandal" look. Now that it's so mainstream it's no longer unique the trick is to make it one's own without looking like you're trying to hard. During Read Across America Week, where the school I subbed for requested we all "wear our craziest socks" to celebrate Fox In Socks by Dr. Seuss I got the chance to do just that.

Fancy Sock Set

   My first choice, a swanky three-piece sock set I bought at Ross looked passable and would've worked okay, if I hadn't been more convinced to wear a pair of vibrant turquoise, pink and white Hello Kitty socks I'd bought at "Forever 21," by a young student I'd bonded with over the icon. One day, after showing her a I book I'd made, called Hello Kitty's Day for ECE 4 (Language and Literature for the Young Child) class I took at Santa Monica College, she proposed that we both wear our Hello Kitty socks on Fox On Socks day.

 

Hello Kitty Socks

 

   Now that I had a brand new plan I had to coordinate an outfit to offset my socks and make then the star. I started with a very preppy, and slightly retro, black and white v-necked mini dress that I belted with a decorative cinch belt then I paired it with a pair of short knee-length black pants. To bring out the pink and blue of the socks I accessorized my look with a turquoise beret, large flower pin attached to my fitted denim jacket, two heavy gold chain necklaces and a pair of beige suede sandals.

   Sober, with a hint of whimsy, I enjoyed sharing my love for Dr. Seuss and funky socks on such a productive and wonderful day.

Five Facts About Fox In Socks:

  1. The book was published in 1965.
  2. Mr. Fox is one character and Mr. Knox is the other character.
  3. Mr. Fox and Mr. Know aren't the only ones to wear socks in the book, "chicks" also wear socks, as does "Sue."
  4. The whole book is a tongue twister that gets increasingly more difficult as you read it.
  5. The thematic style is similar to Green Eggs and Ham-one character is very reserved and easily annoyed (Mr. Knox) and the other just the opposite (Mr. Fox).

  

Navy-blue and white print sock set

Tips for Wearing Socks with Open-Toed Sandals:

  • Pair thick and tweedy styles with suede sandals and jeans or shorts for a comfy casualness.
  • Add color to monochromatic outfits with brightly colored ankle socks for a little pizzazz. 
  • Knee-length or slouchy socks give a denim A-line skirt or full white skirt a lovely boho appeal.

  

Neon and black sock set

Good Places for Buying Socks: 

*Victorian Trading Co. (www.victoriantrading.com)http://victoriantrading.com

They have the best socks for romantics including lavish lace socks in black, burgundy and pink, swiss dot socks, cozy rag socks in oatmeal and heathers, lazy slouch socks in black, white and ecru and rosy posy socks are for under $50.

*Ross Department Store 

*Forever 21 

*H&M

 

     

 

 

 

 

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Saturday, December 24th 2016

2:02 PM

P.J.'s Aren't Just for Sleeping Anymore

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   I'm not sure when my fascination with pajamas started but I do know it's an obsession that's evolved along with my signature style. The first pair I remember, that went beyond the traditional boundaries of sleepwear, was a one-piece leopard print Halloween costume I insisted on sleeping in as a child. In 1979, my grandmother gave me a light pink two-piece long john set for Christmas, that became my p.j.'s my first year at Holy Names College. Limited by a tiny, but stylish selection of chic separates from Bullock's Wilshire I often stretched my wardrobe by wearing the long john top with a pair of designer jeans, a blazer and silk scarf.

San Francisco State University:

   To save money, and experience a larger city, I transferred to San Francisco State University, changed my major from Special Education to Psychology and took my love for adventure with me. This time, along with my trusty long johns, I also brought two bed jackets my mother gave me, to wear when I studied in bed at night. My wardrobe had increased slightly to include thrift store finds, collected for under $10 a piece on Melrose Avenue, birthday and Christmas gifts, and family hand-me-downs. Despite that I still needed to use my long john top and bed jackets for daily use. Jeans were my pants of choice, for this look, and I loved adding a feminine touch by pairing them with a short-sleeved white t-shirt, bed jacket or long john top, vintage scarf, jacket, pointy-toed 1960's flats, rhinestone pin and gold or silver evening clutch bag.

   Sadly someone else thought my p.j. look was cool too because both of my bed jackets, the rhinestone pin, and the evening clutches were stolen and I wasn't able to indulge my passion for p.j. as street wear again until I bought a pair of burgundy men's p.j.'s, on Sale, at a major department store in San Francisco. Perfect for late night study sessions, and lazy mornings in the cafeteria, I wore them, as a set, with a men's vintage blazer or over-sized cardigan sweater, floral scarf and vintage jewelry. When I wanted something particularly louche to wear with my jeans I wore the top under an easy-going jacket and the parts, cuffed at the ankles, with a white button-down shirt, Converse high-top sneakers, Ked's or pointy-toed flats.

The History of Pajamas:

    In my search for stylish ways to wear p.j.'s, I've studied their origins and discovered "they were always designed for comfort" and the word pajamas is Persian and means "pay jama" (leg clothing). They weren't worn by Westerners until 1870 when the British colonialists wore them instead of "the nightshirt," then brought them back to England. One of my favorite eras, the 1920's, were a popular time for pajamas because of their ability to be worn by both men and women. Paul Poiret helped promote them as 24/7 wear in 1911, and Coco Chanel caused a sensation in the luxurious "beach p.j.'s" she wore in the 1920's. Italian designer, Irene Galitzine, premiered wide "evening pajamas" and (palazzos)" in the 1960's.

California State University, Los Angeles

   Although I loved San Francisco, the foggy, cold weather didn't love me, so I was forced to transfer to the school I'd earn my B.A. from, CSULA. Slowly, as I realized my personality was too light-hearted for Psychology, I decided to change my major yet again to Home Economics, with an emphasis in Fashion Merchandising, and totally immerse myself in a subject I knew truly personified me.

   The increased sense of elan I'd gained in the Bay Area helped me navigate through a major with very few African-Americans and high sartorial standards. To help maintain my stylish edge, despite my impoverished state, I regularly shopped at Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary, The Discovery Shop, Judy's, Contempo Casuals, Casual Corner, Clothestime, and at monthly department store sales.Since most of my clothes were vintage and second-hand, and I needed assistance in coordinating them, I spent a lot of time studying vintage fashion publications in the school library archival section and perusing my Barbie collectibles books. 

   My enthusiasm for p.j. wear evolved again when I purchased one of my favorite pieces, a white lace bed jacket I wore with absolutely everything, khaki's, jeans, miniskirts, shorts, you name it. Lavish and wispy, it was the perfect backdrop for the faux pearl and gold jewelry I bought by the pound and head-to-toe black.

74th Street Elementary School:

   Earlier this year, the last day I worked as a Special Ed Assistant for LAUSD, at 74th Street Elementary School I got the opportunity to relive my old SFSU dorm days for their Curl Up with a Good Book: Wear Pajamas to School day for Read Across America Week. Initially I was very confused about what to wear, since the "p,j.as street wear" trend had become so prevalent it's bordered on the tacky. The school, possibly anticipating questionable choices, requested everyone to "Please make sure pajamas are appropriate and in accordance with the school dress code."

   Previously when I needed a pair of suitable p.j.'s for work I visited Ticktocker Timeless Treasures and found a jazzy green and blue plaid men's style. I was working as a Circulation Page at Santa Monica Public Library and I wanted to wear something fun for Halloween that I could work in, so I chose night wear. To give it the full effect I wore my white Christian Dior robe, a black and white polka-dotted doo rag, and carried a teddy bear, I'd also bought at the thrift store, whom I'd later name Honey Bunny.

   Thinking along the same lines, for 74th Street I went to Ross and found a gray and white polka-dotted two-piece sleepwear set by Jessica Simpson. For my look, I added a burgundy trench coat, vintage peach bed jacket and velvet fringed peach scarf. As another chapter of my p.j. wear saga closed I felt a mixture of nostalgia and hope because this time I was able to share my affection for Dr. Seuss in garments that suited the occasion.

Fun Facts About P.J.'s:

*Pajamas are also spelled "paejamas," "paijamas," and "pyjamas."

*Early 17th century: P.J.'s were a "sign of status and worldly knowledge."

*1902: Men's p.j.'s were featured in the "Sears Roebuck catalog" as "just the thing for traveling."

*1920's: Men's p.j.'s "were made of cotton, silk, or flannel" and women's p.j.'s "were made of brightly printed silk or rayon and trimmed with ribbons and lace."

Places to Buy P.J.'s:

   During my research I discovered the best place to find nice, relatively priced p.j.'s are Ross, Target, Macy's and amazon.com.

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Saturday, December 24th 2016

2:02 PM

Keeping It Classy in P.J. Wear

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        For those of us who've suffered through final's week at any four year university we were lucky enough to also reside in, there are sure to be memories of slapped together ensembles that were part comfy p.j. part casual. I know I remember also eschewing makeup, hair grooming tools and my usual accessories on these occasions. But when I wanted to appear quietly laissez-faire I wore my p.j.'s in a more calculated way. I chose cotton instead of cuddly flannel and paired the components with the correct sportswear.

   While putting together this blog I experimented with some new ways to wear p.j.'s. For my red and pink Hello Kitty p.j. bottoms I paired my light blue Poketo Hello Kitty tee and black hoodie, and for another "school p.j. day" I added a red print Asian style Western shirt over my vintage burgundy silk shirt and a pair of black palazzo pants. Other ways I'd love to try coordinating p.j.'s and sportswear is to wear a black print shirt with beige shorts and a soft cardie and a pair of pink, black and white print bottoms with a white t-shirt and black fitted blazer.

    In the future I see the fashion lines blurring even more and the cozy long-sleeved Henley shirt and print p.j. bottoms I saw in the latest L.L. Bean catalog and at Target will become the norm. My only hope is that those of us into the trend will remember to keep it classy.

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Sunday, June 26th 2016

9:57 AM

Showing My Love for "The Cat In The Hat" in Stripes

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Victoria Moore in Striped Outfit She Wore

"I know some good games we could play," said the cat.

--"The Cat In The Hat" by Dr. Seuss

 

   The week before I had to "wear stripes to celebrate Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat" at the school where I was subbing I didn't realize how much the book would teach me about working with the students new to Dr. Seuss or how much I'd enjoy putting together, and wearing my version, of a striped ensemble, until I started my literary and sartorial adventure.

   Drawn as an anthropomorphic (attributing human shape and characteristics to an animal, god, or inanimate thing) character in a snazzy red and white striped top hat, bright scarlet "bow tie" and sparkly white jazz hand gloves, the "Cat" introduces a more complicated story line that challenges the beginning reader beyond the simplistic "Dick and Jane primers" with rhyming text, multiple characters and a longer length at 61 pages.

   This difference became apparent to me when I was working with a first grade Hispanic student who had difficulty completing the book and complained that it was "too much" and "too long". Disappointed that, despite my efforts to split up the reading time into more than one session I realized this student wouldn't experience the joy I had when I first read it in Preschool. I subsequently discussed this problem with the Resource teacher and we decided to demonstrate the magical text of Dr. Seuss by reading it aloud to the students. Fortunately, all over the campus and in various classrooms, volunteers were reading "The Cat In The Hat" in the hopes of converting new readers.

   To coordinate my outfit, for the day, I studied a few fashion layouts, examined the striped pieces I had in my closets, then headed to "Forever 21" in the "Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza" to put together an inexpensive, but fun get up. After looking through their Sale rack I found a light blue and white color blocked sleeveless mini dress, then in the print leggings section, I found a pair of red, black, white and blue leggings that picked up the colors in the dress perfectly.

   Once I got them home I coordinated them further with my light blue and black striped Ann Taylor cardigan, my black and white pinstriped Norma Kamali blazer and for the finishing touch I added a beige, black and white silk scarf to wear around my neck and a pair of striped Nautica sneakers I'd gotten from "Ross". 

   This Spring one of the hottest trends is stripes-whether worn in a bold pattern with a solid color, an accent as an accessory, or part of a patriotic red, white and blue theme-giving the season a bold, nostalgic flavor. Throughout my journey with this "required look" and my revelation about breaking through to a frustrated student I also learned how to embrace something new by putting forth a little effort. 

 


 

Norma Kamali blazer over light blue and white color-blocked dress and multicolored striped leggings.

 

How to Wear Stripes Now:

1) DO:

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  • Wear bright striped patterns in bold colors, such as yellow and red or orange and blue.
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  • Wear a solid colored belt over a striped dress or top to add an accent.
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  • Wear solid black socks and shoes to add further contrast.
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  • Mix and match stripes, like small with bold, etc.,
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  • Wear bold accessories to counterbalance the look.
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2) DON'T:

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  • Wear tight fitting dresses, skirts, tops or pants, with stripes, if you have a curvaceous or plus-size figure, instead wear longer mid-length and floor-length full dresses, tops, palazzos and other wide-legged pants with a suble vertical striped design.
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  • Don't ruin the effect of stripes by adding the wrong bag. Look for boxy, graphic bags in bold colors to add sophistication.
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  • Don't be afraid to mix strips with other prints to get an interesting effect.
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  • Don't let your lifestyle prevent you from wearing stripes. Anyone from a student to a business woman can find a way to incorporate stripes into their wardrobe, whether it's with a pair of black and white pants, a blue and white striped shirt or a striped scarf or purse.
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  • Don't let your budget stop you from wearing stripes because you can find striped items at every price range regardless of where you live or where you shop.
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Sunday, May 1st 2016

12:48 PM

Feeling and Dressing Patriotic, in Red, White and Blue, for Dr. Seuss' One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Day

        

Victoria Moore in red, white and blue flag sweater

 

   The day before I had to put together another "required" outfit to celebrate Read Across America Week and Dr. Seuss was a little more stressful than when I coordinated a green ensemble for Green Eggs and Ham day because the students I subbed with weren't just blase about reading, Dr. Seuss, and dressing in red and blue to "celebrate his book One Fish, Two Fish, Red fish, Blue Fish they were downright hostile. The slightest reminder to read 20 minutes a day and fill out their monthly reading logs were also fraught with stubborn silences, eye rolling and attitude. Since I'm a die-hard bookworm, professional writer and fashion lover I wanted to come to school in something that wasn't just red and blue, but patriotic as well.

   From my clip files I selected a J. Crew ad featuring a model wearing a red blazer over a red and white striped shirt and faded denim jeans and a super funky DKNY ad with various models in red and blue outfits accessorized with sneakers, to get ideas from. Finally, to round out my search, I studied a Vogue layout from the January 2016 issue in the What to Wear Where section called Anthems. It's focus was "all-American dressing with an eccentric and cool twist."

   Still reeling emotionally from the way the students dissed Dr. Seuss on Green Eggs and Ham I went to Forever 21 in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza for a little retail therapy and some inspiration. On one of my favorite Sale racks I found a red, white and blue flag sweater, and snatched it up immediately. I knew I remembered I had a red, white and blue knit cap I'd bought at The Surplus Store years ago and a red, beige, white and blue web belt I'd bought at a thrift store too, that would look perfect with the sweater. Once I got home,I pulled out my hat,and my belt, then decided to layer the sweater over a denim button-down shirt and navy-blue skinny pants.

   With history being taught sporadically in elementary schools today, at least compared to when I attended, I hoped this outfit would make our students want to learn more about U.S. history and Dr. Seuss. Published in 1960 by Random House, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is a wonderful starter book for new readers because it has a "simple rhyming text" and two fun main characters, Jay and Kay. It was also selected as "one of the Top 100 Books for Children by teachers through the National Education Association," and it's been translated into various languages including Spanish ("Un pez, dos peces, pez rojo, pez azul").

   On March 1, when I wore the outfit to school, I was very pleased that it received a lot of compliments and our students seemed a little more enthusiastic about Dr. Seuss. Now my next challenge was to get them excited about reading The Cat In The Hat, in an attractive and challenging striped outfit, on Wednesday, March 2, where we were "required" to wear stripes to celebrate this famous book.

Fashion Coordination Tips for Red and Blue:

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  • You can either pair two solid colors, like a red dress with a blue denim jacket or prints that compliment and reflect a patriotic flair, such as a red, white or blue blazer, jacket or sweater over a red and white striped long-sleeved shirt or blue and white striped shirt and jeans, then accessorize with red framed shades, a red or blue bag and red, white and blue sneakers.
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  • Creative combinations, such as a blue and white striped button-down or white button-down shirt, blue shirt and red cardigan either worn over the shirt or tied around the waist of the skirt or a white tank top and red, white and blue track pants also look good without being kitschy.
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  • If you want to be daring and mix patterns, you can try a red, white and blue print jacket over a red and blue plaid or polka-dotted dress and blue and white striped knee socks or a red and white striped short-sleeved jacket over a red and blue striped dress.
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Wednesday, March 30th 2016

5:34 PM

Celebrating Literacy and Dr. Seuss in Basic Green

    

 

Victoria Moore wearing a green, brown and white clock print scarf and denim shirt.

   No matter how well known certain poems may be to the rest of us, a new generation is not going to become acquainted with them unless somebody plays host and makes introductions.--Iona and Peter Opie in "The Oxford Book of Verse"

   In a lot of ways I'm a lot like the "Grouchy Guy" in the children's book by Dr. Seuss "Green Eggs and Ham" because I hate doing something just because it's required or the "in" thing. I'd rather be unique, live by my own rules and set my own trends. But since I've started working as a Special Education Assistant for a major school district I've had to conform and wear clothes to fit a dress code for a particular event whenever it's required. At the first school I worked at, from August to December 2015, I had to wear purple for "Spirit Day" and for Halloween I painstakingly put together a bohemian chic costume that earned a lot of praise and some confusion among the students and staff, who didn't know what a bohemian was.

   During my last week, at the second school I worked at, from January to March 2016, we were celebrating "Read Across America Week" (February 29-March 4, 2016) by wearing various colors and prints representing four Dr. Seuss books. Reminiscing happily, I remember reading his books as a little girl, and getting lost in their upbeat colors, rhymes and plots. For the first day, "Green Eggs and Ham Day" we were asked to wear green. Luckily I love the bright, sunny, vibrant freshness of it and how it's appealing whether it's as soft as a lacy fern leaf or bold as a mouth-puckering lime.

   Still, deciding what to wear wasn't so easy, despite the amount of green in my wardrobe. A few steps proved necessary before I felt comfortable leaving for work and entering the wonderful world of learning and Dr. Seuss.

Step 1:

    I studied my collection of fashion clips and current magazines for trends and coordination tips. The two ideas that really sparked my imagination was a Kate Spade ad featuring fashionista Iris Apfel wearing a beige jacket, over a white bow-front blouse and a pair of Kelly green pants, and a "Shop Talk" section from an old "Harper's Bazaar" with a photo featuring a model on the runway in a "Marni" while jacket belted over an olive green ruffle-front skirt.

Step 2:

      My next move was to physically brainstorm and come up with an actual outfit I'd wear by examining what I owned and what I felt like wearing. After seeing so many shades and textures of green I knew I wanted to create a look that reflected the variations I often saw in the nature around me. Over the past week I'd been taking photos of a tree that was growing near the class I was assigned to. As it sprang to life, from bud to leaf, I noticed how the tree changed with their evolution and my moods. If I were happy and upbeat the tree looked succulent and lush but if I felt sluggish and tired it looked sparse and macabre.

Step 3:

   Finally I made my decision and chose a Kelly green corduroy pea coat, chartreuse green knit poncho I'd bought at the "Sacks SFO" Going-Out-Of-Business sale, vintage green and yellow polka-dotted 1960's mini dress and a pair of cuffed Sonia Rykiel jeans. To tie all of the colors together I accessorized my outfit with a green and blue fabric necklace, a green hand-painted floral pin attached to the lapel of the pea coat, a multicolored rhinestone, gold and pearl bracelet, a gold rose ring set with a green stone, a pair of white, pink and green Converse and a multicolored floral purse. 

   Confident in my choice, especially when I saw so many students, teachers and support staff wearing green, the day was made even more enjoyable when I got to read "The Lorax" aloud to a group of students during their "reading time" and share a part of my childhood.

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Wednesday, March 9th 2016

3:34 PM

Real Street and Cool

   When it comes to dressing for work or school most of us don't have a problem. A suit, a dress, upscale separates, all of these can carry us through the week regardless of our lifestyle, budget or wardrobe needs. But when the week-end rolls around, not only do we want to relax, we also want to dress more comfortably. Sadly our options may be limited if we rely solely on modern casual wear and forget to coordinate them with as much creativity as we do our good clothes. 

   One of the easiest garments to add un elan to, but still wear effortlessly, are sweatpants. By replacing the gym-ready t-shirt and hoodie traditionally worn with it, with a blazer, button-down shirt and soft cardigan, you bring your casual look up a notch and widen the places you can travel to without embarrassment over your off-hours appearance.

   When I wore this look I finished it off by accenting the lapel of my beige vintage men's jacket with a pink rose pin, and echoing the sportswear vibe of my navy-blue Hanes sweatpants with a light-blue terry cloth Hello Kitty wrist sweatband and white Converse. The item that really took it to the street, in style, was a light-blue denim button-down shirt. Despite its elegance it was very inexpensive to put together, and I stayed within my budget, by choosing clothes I bought at various thrift and off-price stores.

Where I Got the Look:

  • Beige vintage men's blazer (Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary, Inglewood, CA.)
  • Navy-blue Hanes sweatpants (Goodwill Industries Thrift Store, Culver City, CA.)
  • Light-blue denim button-down shirt (Ticktocker Timeless Treasures, Culver City, CA.)
  • Pink rose pin (Ticktocker Timeless Treasures, Culver City, CA.)
  • White Converse (Ross Department Store)
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Saturday, January 23rd 2016

8:49 AM

A Sad Day in the Neighborhood: The Closing of Walmart

   A day rarely passes when someone doesn't compliment me on how well I'm dressed. In a city that has the potential for great style, but at times can miss the mark due to conformity and trendiness, I find that miraculous because of my status in life. The facts are: (1) I'm an African-American female, of a certain age, who rarely sees someone like myself in the media; (2) I live on a budget and show accordingly; and (3) I earned a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising from CSULA because I couldn't afford FIDM and wanted a liberal arts education. Still I've learned how to work with the retail and fashion opportunities I've been given whether it's "Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary" in Inglewood, California or "Baldwin Hills Mall". 

   Despite the wish of most retailers I'm not so brand loyal that I exclusively shop at one store, so if I'm in Mar Vista I could shop at "Council Thrift Store" or "Mitsuwa Marketplace" and if I'm in Culver City I could shop at "Ross" or "Goodwill Industries Thrift Store". Lately I've been curious about where the people in the "Baldwin Hills Mall" community shop, so when I've taken shopping field trips up there, I've stopped in at "Walmart", "Sear's", "Forever 21", "Claire's", "Macy's" and "Pink Memories". 

   While I personally prefer "Forever 21", "Macy's", "T.J. Maxx" and "Pink Memories", the day I went into "Walmart" I needed to buy a small sketch pad to practice my fashion illustrations with and I was amazed at the selection of arts and crafts items they had among other things. I was also impressed that thee store was full of eager consumers patiently waiting in long lines to be wrung up.

   So when my mother told me that the "Walmart" at "Baldwin Hills Mall" was closing, and I saw the yellow and black "Store Closed" sign out of a bus window I was suddenly consumed with sadness and dread over the loss of a major retailer in a minority community. While a number of issues arise over the closure of the store the suspicion of a demand for higher wages by store employees during a struggling economy sticks in my mind as the reason.

   I can understand employees wanting higher wages, but when I compare how hard I worked in retail at "The Broadway", "Robinson's", "Clothestime" and other stores, for less than $10 an hour, while studying Fashion Merchandising I'm shocked that its an issue. Not only did I learn everything about the business from salesmanship to inventory and displays I also was required to dress appropriately while doing it. When I shop today I'm met with sales clerks in unattractive uniforms with no fashion sense or imagination in an industry that's become less diverse, more impersonal, less creative and more conformist despite the plethora of talented designers and skilled laborers trying to work within the retail industry.

   The closing of "Walmart" also proves the industry's become more resistant to embracing a community where some of its citizens are supporting stores with their dollars and their presence. Sadly the ones who put personal issues and a paycheck ahead of the excellent workmanship and professionalism to keep it thriving make the closure a crucial turning point I hope we all learn from and transform into a better future. After all, a low-paying job and convenience in a tough world is better than nothing at all. 

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Sunday, December 6th 2015

12:49 PM

Location, Location...Does Location Really matter? Shopping and Looking Good in Your Own Neighborhood

   A few days ago I had a doctor's appointment, so I knew I  wanted to wear something comfortable, easy to remove for an examination, attractive and warm enough to withstand the cold weather outside. I hadn't worn one of my favorite blazers for awhile so, after selecting that, I chose one of my favorite vintage polyester blouses, a white cardigan sweater to wear over it, a yellow and brown print silk scarf  to accentuate the colors in the blazer and the blouse, and a pair of jeans. If you'd have looked at the black and white hounds tooth blazer, with a slightly 1940's cut, over the vintage white cardigan, pink print blouse and Paige jeans I'd put together you might assume I spent a lot of money on my outfit because I'd coordinated it so carefully. I know the receptionist at the hospital was fooled because when I walked up to her desk to check in for my appointment she said, "You always dress so stylish whenever you come here. If I had money I'd dress that way too." When I told her that I got my blazer off of the $1.o0 rack at a thrift store, she said, "Then you have an eye and know how to put things together."

Baldwin Hills Plaza:

   These days I prefer to look for clothes and accessories in my own neighborhood before venturing out to pricier shopping enclaves because getting around Los Angeles has become so hectic, stressful and exhausting it turns an enjoyable pastime into an arduous chore. A couple of Saturday's ago, following two more doctor's appointments, I decided to go to Baldwin Hills Plaza to visit my favorite stores Pink Memory (Hello Kitty and Sanrio)Forever 21, T.J. Maxx, and Macy's. Besides looking for myself I also wanted to see what the average consumer was buying and where they were shopping. My research resulted in Claire's (accessory shop), Forever 21, Macy's, and Walmart.

Macy's:

   While in Macy's I met a talented jewelry designer, Kim Cherrelle, who was wearing a beautiful set of gold and colored stone bracelets that offset her corporate all-black outfit wonderfully. She graciously rang up the lovely yellow leather wallet, brown purse belt and gray wool hat with black floral trim, that I'd selected, while we talked. I told her I liked shopping in the neighborhood, and would rather do that, than take my money across town for the same merchandise. She said, "That's good because a lot of our customers shop elsewhere instead of here. It's too bad since this is our neighborhood and our mall." Personally this experience, and the time I came to the mall and found a pair of black Michael Kors rain boots and a fanny pack, has made me a fan of Macy's when I previously didn't shop there. I mistakenly assumed they were beyond my budget, but after finding good quality merchandise on sale, I've changed my mind. I can even tolerate the all-black uniform of the staff, even though I think it should be replaced with professional and stylish dress that would increase sales and customer service.

Forever 21:

   Leaving a traditional retail establishment, like Macy's, for a "fast fashion retail chain" like Forever 21 could've resulted in style culture shock if I weren't a regular customer who knows how to navigate the obvious trends there and find unique items that work. On this trip I bought a long off-white lacy dress, a burgundy cotton dress I plan to wear with print leggings, a white paisley print dress I plan to wear over a pair of black  Simply Vera Wang scuba pants, a gray Keith Haring art tee, a gold chain, a large gold and stone doorknocker ring and a gold and rhinestone ring set. Adhering to my current "bohemian eclectic" aesthetic I knew this selection would help give my wardrobe more flavor and longevity.

Goodwill Industries Thrift Store: (Black Friday)

   Rounding out my neighborhood shopping expeditions, at the Goodwill Industries Thrift National Store 32 on Venice Blvd., I decided to eschew the crowds on "Black Friday" and go to my favorite Goodwill to do some early Christmas shopping. All of the clothes were 50% off, so I bought a red and blue print top and light green jacket for my mother, a vintage floral print Carole Little blouse for my grandmother, and a red print 1940's style tie for my brother. For myself, I bought a white Chanel purse for $34.99, a floral Vera Bradley bag, a black, white and pink Betsey Johnson purse, a beige short-sleeved ribbed Pierre Cardin pullover sweater, a beige Arden B. shrug, and a gorgeous light blue and beige sequinned scarf. My total savings were $15.00! A good deal if I ever saw one.

   On any given day, in my neighborhood, while it's true that I'll see my share of sheer leggings with tight t-shirts, pajama bottoms and sweatshirts and other overly casual wear, which causes me to cringe and wish for more formal times, on the days I see someone wearing a black floppy hat, gray print cardigan, long white top and black leggings or someone in a neat button-down shirt, tie and tailored pants, I know there's value in finding style where I live.

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