From silhouettes to palettes to accessories the styles of my youth have blossomed anew along with the same body issues I had at 13. Sort of.
In 1973 I was 14 (go ahead and do the math) with a face full of zits, a bosom maturing faster than I was psychically and wavy hair that I, of course, wished was straight.
At the beginning of my teen years I was not in a hurry to grow up. I liked being a kid and went into denial as my breasts began to develop and my waist curve in. I resisted wearing a bra (which became necessary in 6th grade) telling my mother I didn’t want to grow up. But grow — up and out — I did.
Because I had boobs at youngish age and looked older, less childlike, than some of my friends I got teased by boys in my class (and leered at by grown men, including teachers), I hated school. (Also I was bored most of the time).
At the same time my face broke out so much that my working-class parents spent money on a dermatologist and therapist to help me cope … they even helped me switch schools.
The new school wasn’t much different, although it was safer having as it did about 100 percent fewer teacher stabbings than the previous school. But I still got teased. I was once surrounded by a group of girls who pointed at me and called me zit-based names (I don’t remember the exact words they used but they weren’t making fun of me because I had the smooth complexion of a Disney princess) in front of everyone eating lunch on the quad.
I grew my thick wavy hair long because I thought it would at least cover some of my zits and if I could get the perfect Jacqueline Smith or Farah Fawcett wave maybe it would distract from my face? (In case you were wondering I achieved neither goal).
Every day was a struggle not to feel self-conscious because of my complexion or body but every day a new zit grew and someone tried to look down my shirt.
(And just so you know, I am not telling you this so you’ll feel sorry for me or because it left me with permanent emotional scars. It didn’t. I was a goofy, hormonal, overdeveloped teenaged girl. I wasn’t the only one. Lots of kids got teased and bullied in school; for some it left a mark and those people feel the pain to this day. Others managed to move on without lasting effects. I’m one of the last category.)
The one thing that made going to school palatable was getting dressed. Getting to put together outfits and feel admired by girls less into fashion than me. (To be clear, to this day I have no idea if anyone in junior high school admired me, my clothing or my style but I was hoping they did). I latched on to every trend, every look … wanting to look hip and well dressed in a full ensemble with ladylike accessories one day; sporting an army jacket, suggestive motocross tee shirt and torn jeans the next day. I always saw fashion as a form of expression and as a shield to hide behind. It let me adopt different personas and try out different versions of myself.
At the start every school year my mom would take me shopping and I would pick out the trendiest pieces my parents could afford. That year it was a pair of red plaid bell bottoms, platform shoes and red v-necked sweater with ribbed cuffs and hem. I loved that outfit. I thought I looked so Vogue and so stylish and cool (and I maybe I did). It made feel in control and less like an alien in my own body.
But the pimples still kept coming and my body kept developing till the pants no longer fit and my cleavage bloomed too openly in the sweater. I wasn’t fat or even overweight I don’t think, I just wasn’t the tall willowy surfer girl or tiny, petite gamine I had hoped I would be. (womp, womp).
But what I eventually learned from those years was how to dress my body so I felt the best I could, to pick pieces and styles that showed my body to its best advantage — whether that was to minimize my chest and play up my clavicle (a body part I am often complimented on) and arms or make my shortish legs appear longer — and therefore made me feel good about myself.
I learned who I was and what my style was and that knowledge served as a basis of my innate sense of self.
In the intervening years I learned how to use style and fashion to feel confident in any situation whether it was picking the right skirt and blouse for a job interview or how to wear a black leather jacket (my favorite piece of armor) like it was a second skin.
In my 30s and 40s my hair, never curly enough to produce pretty ringlets but too wavy to be silky, calmed down and with the help of a good stylist usually looked fine. The oily skin that caused so many breakouts and so much embarrassment — which means I have very few middle-age wrinkles — eventually cleared up.
Probably because of hormonal changes (the culprit in my awkward puberty and, apparently, my dowdy middle age) I am once again chasing one red, stinging zit after another from my face. At least now I am more expert at hiding them with makeup and concealer. I’m also spending more time trying to blow dry straight my increasingly wavy hair. (I’m thinking of just letting it go wild.)
And my boobs? Well, lets just say they seem to be back in 7th grade asserting themselves farther out. Only now they aren’t aiming quite as high and my stomach is trying to follow suit.
It seems that fashion isn’t the only thing that comes full circle … so do we.
Today I spent time researching the ’70s inspiration for fall knowing that not only the prohibitive barrier of cost (no, I cannot drop $1,295 for a pair of Valentino gauchos or $5,000 for a Lanvin midi-skirt) but my thickening torso means I’ll be sitting this round out.
Instead, I’ll focus my energies on figuring out how to care for and dress this newest iteration of my body to its best advantage. It’s served me well and the least I can do is keep it strong and clothe it the best I can.
But man, you should’ve seen me in those plaid bell-bottoms…
Now excuse me while I go apply some more Clearisil.
I love living and working here in Orange County. In the course of doing my job I get to visit the county’s best boutiques, meet all of local style mavens and I get a front row seat at the preview of the county’s newest lines. Of course, as a freelancer I don’t make enough money to purchase every amazingly cool thing I see on a daily basis but that doesn’t mean I can’t dream, right? What I’m dreaming about right now are two brand new break out lines by Orange County designers you should know.
First up, is Beek a line of mostly hand-made leather sandals out of Newport Beach. The line was co-founded by the former head shoe designer, Birgitt Klett, and Kenna Florie, former marketing veep, for Roxy. Beek features six sandal styles ($240-$320) named after birds — Finch, Starling, Lark, Sandpiper, Wren and Sparrow — rendered in burnished leather and sporting a molded arch in the footbed that makes the flats more comfortable to wear. They are stunning, simple and timeless, recalling long lazy days wherever a sunny shore can be found: Greece, Italy, Hawaii, St. Tropez, Ibiza, Laguna Beach. Their elegant and classic style could be worn with anything (short of a business suit that is, but, hey these are vacation shoes, weekend brunch on the terrace shoes not cubicle shoes!): the season’s wide-legged pants or culottes (that’s right! Culottes!), 70’s front button skirt, maxis or cut off shorts or …. They would look excellent with the next line on our wish list: Aïea small collection of dresses and tops by Laguna Beach dress designer Jessica Barkleyand partner Isaura Gardner. With a simple silhouette that is also universally flattering the line, in modal with mesh overlay, is sexy without being aggressive, easy without being sloppy. I particularly lust after the racer front top, $94 and the long-sleeved dress in black, $156. I’d wear the dress with Beek’s Wrenfor just about any occasion. Ciao for now!
From Rebecca Minkoff’s rocking fringed boots and booties to Monique Lhuillier’s sexy ankle straps, Suno’s chunky heels and Altuzarra’s witchy lace-up booties all the shoes were amazing. The toes were round, pointed and open; heels were chunky at Coach, Christian Siriano and Miu Miu, spindly on Prabal Gurung’s impossibly femme-fatale pumps, curved at Donna Karan and architectural at Jason Wu. At Saint Laurent, Giambattista Valli, Chloe and March Jacobs laces wound up the ankle and the leg.
Styles were, happily, all over the place — sporty thick platforms, ankle straps, loafers, even knee-high lace boots and up-to-the thigh moto boots. The choice is more eclectic than classic for fall with lots of call backs to the seventies, the Art Deco 20s (Ferragamo’s arty sandals), 80’s; even the 2000’s with pony manes at Christian Siriano and 3-D embellished heels at Rochas.
Will it mean you’ll have to spend a little to freshen your shoe wardrobe? Maybe, but isn’t it worth it?
I love meeting new designers and recently I got to meet the mother-daughter team at Jonas Studios in San Clemente.
Liz and Christine Jonas make jewelry with a story — collecting beads, artifacts and materials from all over the world and fashioning them into statement pieces unlike anything you’ll see elsewhere.
Their designs are in 20 stores all over the U.S. (including Blue Eyed Girl, Millieand 503 Foundhere in Orange County) and their jewelry was worn by cover girl Lupita Nyong’o in the July issue of Vogue.
Fashion fiends are like knights on a quest. We’re always searching for our version of the Holy Grail — that one artifact that holds all the mystery, secrets and wonder in our fashion universe.
For me that search for perfection is always summed up in The. Perfect. Black. Pump.
Never mind that I have scores (maybe hundreds; I don’t know, I haven’t counted lately) of pairs of shoes — some of which were dubbed to be “perfect” by me in the not too distant past. But, styles and tastes change and, lately, all I have been dreaming about is a modern-day perfect black pump; one that I can wear with anything, one with a dreamy silhouette but with enough edge that I still maintain my rock&roll style, but also one that looks a little more grown up to match my, ahem, age and one that I can fit (well, lets say “cram”) into my supposed-to-be tight budget.
See, I while I have always loved a pointed toe pump– and in an inky black said pump is the equivalent of a wardrobe’s core: it holds everything together and looks great — my cache of black pumps could use an update. Some, like my beloved Jimmy Choos, look too much like the year I got them in; others, like my suede d’Orsay Manolos are still wearable style-wise but they have seen better days and others, like my peep-toe Diors are not pointy-toed enough to be basic (in the best sense of the word).
So, for the last year I have been searching for THE ONE.
And I believe I have found it — the D’Orsay heel from Emerson Fry (cue heavenly choir).
It is everything I want in a wear-everywhere pump. Updated from stiletto to chunky heel; a lovely toe that’s not too pointy but not round and with a profile to die for.
Figures though, because I want virtually every item on the Emerson Fry websitefrom the awesome coats …
to their sweaters and tops …
to their studded belts ….
to their bags …
to their boots …
Since I discovered Emerson Fry I cannot stop thinking about it because it is the fashion equivalent of heaven — filled with Holy Grails; it is perfection.
… at least until I start the search for the perfect pair of sandals.
Keeping your personal style, being on trend, as you get older can sometimes be a challenge. It can also be a challenge no matter your age if you are not an heiress to a large fortune or a globe-trotting supermodel whose entire closet of designer duds is “gifted”. (Not bitter, I swear, I am not bitter!)
So the double challenge of being, ahem, under-employed and, let’s face it, a little bit of a trend whore, has forced me to become more strategic in my shopping. Every buck I spend must make a bang stylistically and, because I am well past my 20s, look more expensive than it was.
I have found that the easiest way to amp up your style is with accessories and lately my style-amping accessory of choice has been the clutch. For me it’s the day clutch. I mean, it doesn’t take a genius to rock a beaded clutch or shiny minaudier for evening but to work a big scrunchy, one-of-a-kind looking bag under your arm like a fashion boss? That takes some skill.
So for your edification, I present …
If you love rocker style:
First the age thing. I still like my rock and roll/punk edge but lets be real, I’m too old to be tricked out in leather skinny jeans, fringed scarves and studs everywhere … unless I want to look like an old woman trying too hard (or Steven Tyler, which is really the same thing, ammirite?) But I am not too old to wear this uber soft black be-fringed beauty from Deux Lux with everything from a black sheath and heels to (tasteful) black skinnies, a soft sweater and an oversized wrap coat …
I got mine at Nordstrom, Fashion Island but you can get yours here.
Who doesn’t love leopard or cheetah print? Once relegated to a certain class of overdressed lady, animal prints (for me it’s specifically, leopard print) have crossed into the realm of iconic neutral. But if you’re of a certain age, too much of such a good thing can tip from kicky and fun to tacky and frumpy in less time than it takes to say “I’ll have a chardonnay”. Ladies like us have to be careful not to go overboard, but instead add animal as an accent. Also, just carrying a leopard print bag — or just wearing a very classic leopard pump, but not both — (for the love all things holy, NOT BOTH) is the great way for the style-timid to try something wild.
A minimal silhouette in good materials such as the clutch below (which I got at Chico’s the first and only time I ever shopped there) should do the trick …
The boho look has much to recommend it: fun, floaty, forgiving silhouettes, a casual chicness perfect for the SoCal climate; it’s a look that says you don’t try too hard, you’re just chill. But … also, the jeans short and floaty kimono with leather booties is tad young for a grown woman (as well as kind of played out here in O.C.).
And, say, you’re boho but you can no longer in all good conscience go out in shorts, opting for a maxi with chunky organic jewelry has it’s own pitfalls. For one, you risk looking like grandmother Tippy Toes (as my mom would say) in voluminous long skirt and flats because no one does boho in heels. As we get older, or rather, wiser, shouldn’t we aim to also be more sophisticated and not so much Stevie Nicks?
One solution? Wear your fave, worn boyfriend jeans (no holes please, I hate that look. Holes in jeans are fine for struggling, just- getting-started-in-life 20-somethings but by 40 you can afford to buy new jeans before the knees go out) low-heeled booties, a soft-as-you-please v-neck tee, classic-cut blazer and a bag like this …
Being a gamine, pixie dream-girl is only for the young.
Sorry, ladies, but even Zoey Deschanel isn’t trying to pull that off anymore and the original “gamine”, Audrey Hepburn (pause to reflect on the meaning of Audrey’s style) aged out gracefully while maintaining that sparkling look. In fact, if you think about it, her most famous character, Holy Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s) wore fairly classic items: LBD, belted trench, kitten heels … It was only her accessories that were quirky: Tiara, eyelashed sleeping mask, cat eye sunglasses (for modern reference see Karen Walker’s line) and a top-knot bun. (Her home decor was quirkier: suitcases as end tables, a bathtub as a couch, zebra rug).
So if you still grave a bit of wit and whimsy, try a bag that makes a statement (it’s also a good replacement for the ironic graphic t-shirt which really should be reserved for youngsters) …
South Coast Plaza (aka “the happiest place on earth”) is in the middle of its three-day style celebration “Live the Look” this weekend.
First up was a fall fashions presentation featuring designer/celebrity stylist and reality TV personality Rachel Zoe. The petite blond (dressed in a black Fendi midi dress) presented a runway show fall fashions from some of South Coast Plaza’s luxury designer boutiques.
Zoe, an obvious fashion enthusiast, drooled over the looks from Gucci, Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ralph Lauren, Brunello Cuncinelli, Barbara Bui, Fendi, Chloe, Oscar de la Renta, Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Lanvin at South Coast Plaza Thursday night.
“Fall fashion means layering; it’s an excuse to wear more clothes,” said Zoe, pointing out what most true fashion fiends feel: Fall is the best season of the year.
Ever feel like you need a little help getting your style on? Well, you’re in luck! My friend Leslie Christen — lifestylist extraordinaire — is holding the fall edition of her ” Edit, Organize, Style, Wear” class in a few weeks.
According the lovely Leslie the class will teach you how to … :
1. How to define your personal style and based on that, eliminate the pieces you no longer wear.
2. Understand different materials, what pieces to invest in and how to mix and match pieces into outfits for all occasions.
3. Design your most ideal closet space and tips for organizing and storing your clothes.
Leslie is a sought after stylist and is a fashion contributor to Riviera Magazine, Greer’s OC, and VisitNewportBeach.com.
I’ve worked with Leslie many times and I can tell you no one is better at helping a lady define her style and pare down to the most classic of luxe essentials. Leslie is also an experienced organizer and she styled a piece for the me at the Orange County Register on packing for a get-away.
The class is Thursday, October 16, from 6-8 pm at Bardot, 2043 Westcliff Dr. in Newport Beach. Cost is $125 and the tickets go fast so RSVP at lesliechristen.comto secure your place. Guests will receive refreshments, light bites and a goody bag (nothing better than some swag, right?).
Had the pleasure to meet Carrie and Murphy Martines of The Celectat The Lab recently.
Not only are they a cool, friendly couple but they also have impeccable taste — as is obvious to anyone who steps foot inside their intelligently curated boutique. Filled with under-the-radar American and European designers, the vibe of The Celect is casual with an edge and an eye for craftsmanship.
This is no fast-fashion, trend-of-the moment, made-in-China haven — Carrie and Murphy pay particularly close attention to where the clothes are designed and made.
“We definitely ask designers where they are made,” says Carrie. “We want to make sure the price of the garments you’re getting what your paying for; that you’re not gonna get something you’re gonna wear once; it’s gonna be a piece that is more timeless and not just a trendy item; it’s going to be in your closet over a season at least.”
The Celect is the place you go when you want that uber-cool architectural minimalism akin to the likes of Rick Owensor Haider Ackermann or The Row‘s oversized knits except with a bit more whimsy. (Honestly, what else would you call these bright swimsuits by We are Handsomeand these booties by Bless?)
It’s the place for fashionphiles who understand exactly what is so cool about wearing drop-crotch pants and high-top kicks. It’s not the place to look for tops cut low enough for an Orange County Housewife, Herve Leger bandage dresses or festival-wear (not that there’s anything wrong with any of that).
Carrie and Murphy — both designers with long history in the fashion game and a love of unique boutiques — have created a modern style mecca in their airy store.
The boutique stocks both men and women’s clothes making it perfect for the boy or girl who likes to borrow from the others’ closet.
I fell madly in love with a pink flamingo jersey by British menswear designer Katie Eary. I know it’s technically a man’s shirt but I dream of wearing it with skinny jeans, flowy white trousers or a lean tube skirt and combat boots. Of the women’s lines I crave one of Risto’s painted tees or bright knit skirt; either would work well with — and be a welcome relief from — my largely black winter wardrobe.
The Celect also carries a hefty portion of unisex lines such as Paris-based Rad Houraini. Houraini’s gray wool felt capesfall right in line with two fall trends — gray and capes! — but have an architecture that will last past this fall.
The inventory at The Celect (think selection + curation) is still evolving, Carrie and Murphy say and soon they will be stocking Rick Owens Drk Shdws as well as Murphy’s menswear line COPY.
Next time you’re at The Lab (2930 Bristol St A101B, Costa Mesa) check out The Celect.