Victoria Moore in the 1980's
If I compared retail and shopping to the mid-1980's, when I worked as a salesperson at The Broadway Department Store at the Broadway Plaza in Downtown Los Angeles, to today's scene, I'd have to admit the industry has suffered immensely due to a rewriting of the rules that have resulted in numerous store closures, job losses, and a dirge of sartorial creativity.
Despite this economic set-back, I still enjoy shopping and feel hopeful about retail's future.
Hitting the Mall!
My tap shoes
The Sunday before Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday I decided to treat myself to a movie. Not just any movie, mind you, but one of my favorites, Singin' In The Rain! Dedicated to Debbie Reynolds, who'd recently died, I was sad the character Kathy Seldin would be part of her memorial. Still, "the show must go on", and at 65, I knew everything would proceed as scheduled. When I first started tap dancing, over 10 years ago at Santa Monica College, my first tap teacher Mark Mendonca told the class "Gene Kelly was his idol". As I watched the film all of his signature phrasing came back to me.
The Big Screen
Before Moses Supposes came on, I reached across the empty seat to the woman sitting there and whispered, "I love this routine. It's my favorite." I almost told her learning it is at the top of my bucket list but she shocked me into silence by saying, "I don't know it. This is the first time I've ever seen Singin' In The Rain." "Really? I've seen it about 100 times. I look at it every time it comes on TV," I told her. "I tap and it's a good way to learn new steps." After the final scene ended, I asked her what she thought of it. "It was really cute!," she said.
Homage to a French Girl in Navy-blue and White
Beige trench coat over white button-down shirt and navy-blue wide-leg pants
For the occasion I coordinated a classic, but laid-back outfit, my new wide-leg navy-blue pants, a white turtleneck, and my beige mini trench coat. I'd just ordered the pants, online from H&Mhttp://www.hm.com for Christmas, and as soon as I tried them on I wanted to show them off. At the last minute I changed my mind and replaced the turtleneck with a white button-down shirt, accessorized with a blue and gold French themed scarf and vintage navy-blue beret.
I wish I could say I was the creator of this ensemble, but I copied it from an ultra-chic French girl who was in a fashion illustration class (FASHN 9A) I took last summer at SMC. Overjoyed by this reintroduction to the world of fashion , most of my fellow students dripped with so much elan I was continuously inspired. Among the plethora of artistic offerings the signature floor-dragging men's pants and over-sized button-down's of this fashionista attracted me the most. At around 5'6", model thin and wonderfully disheveled I immediately noticed how elegant she appeared in contrast to the hyper sexualized jeans, leggings and tight tops I see on a daily basis.
Beige and white outfit with sketches and sticks that were used as inspiration
To top off my excursion I stopped at Forever 21 before catching the bus home. Lured in by a large yellow 30% off Sale sign I ran to the Sale rack and found the black, beige and burgundy bomber jacket I'd been eyeing online priced at $15.99. With the further mark down the total, before tax, was $12.59. While meandering through the accessories I also found a jeweled owl ring, rainbow pin and retro looking emerald, purple and gold butterfly pin, for under $20!
Slowly making my way home, after another satisfying day at the mall, I was happy I could contribute to the further success of retail with my purchases and support.
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:
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
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
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:
Navy-blue and white print sock set
Tips for Wearing Socks with Open-Toed Sandals:
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
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.