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My name is Melissa Kaplan Guarino. Welcome to Turning Fashion Inside Out! I believe there is a connection between fashion and self-esteem and I am interested in understanding that relationship. Tell me … What is your story?

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A Colombian Connection

Credit Corentin Fohlen for The New York Times

I have Colombian blood. I don’t think about it all the time but it is surely with me. When I see someone who is from Colombia I look carefully for something I recognize in myself. Something – I don’t know what. I guess I am looking for a connection. And when I hear about someone who is from Colombia, I take notice. It happened recently when I read that Nina Garcia, fashion journalist and critic (and long-time judge on Project Runway) is Colombian. And it happened today when I read the sad news that Colombian fashion designer and president of luxury handbag and accessories brand Nancy Gonzalez, Santiago Barberi Gonzalez, passed away. And so sad too, that he was only 40 years old. I didn’t know anything about the brand, but reading that it was deeply admired and that it’s design aesthetic was rooted in the natural beauty and rich culture of Colombia, touched me. And hearing about the kind of person Gonzalez was did connect me in some way – to his humanity. He sounded very special. As it happens, he and Nina Garcia were friends – she wrote on Instagram, “He was a star.”

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In Search of Chenille

My new light purple Dries Van Noten chenille pants

I get fashion ideas from many places: watching people, passing a window, leafing through magazines, catching a movie. For the ideas that take hold of my imagination and won’t let go, I become a determined woman on a mission! That is what happened when I saw a recent feature on Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “What I Wear To Work.” The person was wearing purple velvet pants designed by Dries Van Noten and I fell in love – with the purple, and with the velvet. I began my search in earnest. I never did find the purple velvet but what I did find was a pair of light purple chenille trousers by the designer, on sale at a terrific price! My heart sang when the pants arrived and were the softest fabric I had ever known! Owning new clothes is much more satisfying when I have to track them down first!

Pants, Dries Van Noten, shoes, Talbots

Photo by Kendra Olson; on location at Reeves-Reed Aboretum, Summit NJ

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Time and Tide to Go!

Get the white out with Tide To Go!

When I bought this white polo shirt, I was not aware there was a stain on it. Since I got it from my favorite consignment shop (no returns!) I had to find a way to keep the shirt – but keep it white. If you have not already discovered Tide-to-Go instant stain remover, go out and buy it now! It is amazing. You dab it on and watch the stain disappear. For my polo shirt, it worked instantly.

Spring is here and whites are jumping at the bit to take their place of prominence in your wardrobe. But if you are going to wear white, then keep your whites crisp and clean. No stain, even a small one, is worthy of you. The season is just starting – check your closets for any worn whites – remove any stains if you can but if not then let them go! Time and Tide to Go!

Polo shirt – Tory Burch

Photo by Kendra Olson

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Betsey Johnson Feels Very Lucky

Designer Betsey Johnson with CBS correspondent Serena Altschul. Courtesy CBS News

Betsey Johnson in her new home, California; Courtesy CBS News

And to me, it’s just a lot of good luck, and the talent and the work. But the luck for me has been the most important.” ~ Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson feels very lucky. CBS Correspondent Serena Altschul interviewed the 74 year old fashion designer about her life and her loves. Although she has hinted that she may be done with her runway shows, she is certainly not ‘done’ with other things! In fact, there is too much left for Betsey Johnson to create. For more than 50 years, since the 1960s, Betsey Johnson has given girls and women the chance to feel unique and fun. Growing up, Johnson never studied fashion or design but she always felt that she knew how to “do it,” as she says. Just doing it seems to come naturally to Betsey Johnson; she raised her daughter Lulu on her own, she survived breast cancer and bankruptcy. And though she says that it takes hard work, talent, and luck to be a success, I would say that Betsey Johnson’s story is as much about inspiration and resilience as anything else. Just ask the hoards of young girls and women who would follow her anywhere – put me in that category!

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Alice’s Shoes of Honor

Alice’s shoes from Shoe Biz – photos supplied by Alice

I met Alice when I was in 8th grade; I thought it was 7th grade, when I had just moved to Connecticut from California, but Alice reminded me recently that we actually met in 8th. She was my best friend and my lifeline, at a time when I was woefully sad to leave a California life that I loved, and move at the peak of my awkward middle school years. We were inseparable and Alice became a part of my family until she moved away to the Midwest – which, of course, devastated me. We kept in touch as best we could but it wasn’t until years later, when we had both graduated from college and Alice returned to the East Coast to try her hand at life in New York City – that we met again. Alice found her first job with Shoe Biz, a wholesale shoe company on 5th Avenue and 58th street, across from the legendary Bergdorf Goodman and not far from the entrance to Central Park. Their shoes were Italian, French, and Spanish, and Shoe Biz sold directly to department stores, including high-end boutique, Henri Bendel. Now living in Northern California with her family, Alice and I met last week in NYC and talked about life, our friendship, those years long ago in New York, and why Alice will never part from the shoes she still owns from her days working at Shoe Biz. Here is Alice …

I had just graduated college and decided to move to New York.The year was 1983. I found the job at Shoe Biz through an employment agency, where the agent pulled cards from the catalogue as she tried to match me to an opportunity. She was about to pass over a job for a shoe model/receptionist (with a size 6 shoe) when I stopped her and told her that I wore a size 6! That was it – I got the job as a fit model and receptionist, trying on shoes for buyers – literally because my feet were the right size! … Continue reading

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Victoria Beckham Celebrates Daughter Harper in Target Campaign

Courtesy: Victoria Beckham for Target

The inspiration behind this campaign is – a world of possibilities – make believe – imagination – and the unexpected.” `~ Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham for Target collection launches on April 9 but the full lookbook is here – and it’s a celebration of the life and relationship Beckham shares with her daughter, Harper. It’s personal to Beckham and everything is lovingly designed. Much like Beckham’s VVB line (which Beckham started in 2011 when she was pregnant with Harper) and describes as the “younger sister to my ready-to-wear collection,” the campaign is whimsical and full of unique touches that feature 200 pieces and carry across women’s, girls’, toddler, and baby categories. The pieces range in price from $6 to $70, but the best part is that most items cost under $40. Says Beckham: “I see this collection being worn by everyone, everywhere. It’s fun. It’s functional. And it’s really cool as well.” I plan to be one of that ‘everyone!’ and pick out a treat for myself – I am thinking of a dress!

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Why We All Love Annie Hall

InStyle, featuring Alexa Chung; photographer, Matthew Sprout

When InStyle Magazine photographed Alexa Chung channelling Annie Hall’s iconic style, I smiled a huge smile. One of my all-time favorite movies, Annie Hall is a love affair waiting to happen; love of New York, love of romance, love of comedy, love of Diane Keaton as Annie Hall – and especially her style. She was so effortless in her attitude. “Feminine masculinity,” is how Alexa Chung describes Annie Hall’s style and I would have to agree: hats, high-wasted trousers with men’s style shirts and ties, vests, and blazers – costume designer Ruth Morley worked closely with Keaton to create the look and it was pure Annie Hall. It was also my mother’s style of the 1970’s – and this film brought my mom to the screen!

The best part about watching Annie Hall, though, is that I have shared it with my son, Eric. When we watched it together for the first time about a year ago (I hadn’t realized he had seen it before) it was so much fun to see it through his eyes! He of course did not realize that as I was laughing my head off (how about that car scene with a young Christopher Walken!?), I was also swooning over every outfit and every look of Annie Hall! La ti da! 

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Fashion Versatility

Photo by Linda Colarusso

Today, my outfit was a soft pair of light pink chenille pants paired with a black blazer, blouse with a tie, and kitten heels. I felt like being dressy. Yesterday, I wore bell-bottom camel-colored pants with a peach-colored sweater, comfortable and easy. And the day before it was a long black skirt with super-high wedge black boots for an added edge. There was a moment this morning as I was getting dressed, when I asked myself if it was okay that my outfit today was so different from the one I wore yesterday. I actually started to question myself – isn’t it weird to dress so differently, one day from another? But then … I came to my senses! Fashion isn’t about sticking with a theme or dressing of one attitude one day to the next. Fashion is about self expression and allowing your clothes on the outside to reflect your mood on the inside. Who feels the same way every day?

It’s okay to present one version of yourself one day, and another version the next. It’s no big commitment, either – easy to change, easy to update – just a chance to express yourself for the day. This is simply, fashion versatility!

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The Original Athleisure: Juicy Couture Tracksuit

As more people embrace the athleisure fashion trend it is good to remember that there was an original – the Juicy Couture tracksuit. There can be no denying that this velour staple was the first to take the concept of casual-as-day-wear to the next level and it took off like wildfire – with celebrities leading the trend. Even though it reached its peak of popularity in the 2000s, there is news that it is making a comeback; in fact, the Juicy Couture tracksuit is alive and well. Last July, Bloomingdales introduced the Juicy Couture Black Label for an exclusive capsule collection of the classic tracksuits – famous J-zippers and all. And just as it was in the early 2000s, celebrities have embraced the comeback with a vengeance. Celebrities, and me …

I purchased a Juicy tracksuit in classic pitch black. There is something so cozy about wearing velour and I love the simple high style of this casual go-to which I will wear for exercise and beyond. Says Brooke Jaffe, Operating Vice President, Fashion Director, Women’s Ready-To-Wear at Bloomingdales, “Current fashion trends are about elevating casual sportswear…and velour is velvet’s casual antidote.” Go Juicy!

Photos by Abrina Hyatt

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Vogue Arabia Launches in print this Spring

Model Gigi Hadid on the Inaugural Cover of Vogue Arabia – Credit: INEZ AND VINOODH

My technical difficulties behind me, I am so happy to be with you again, sharing stories and Turning Fashion Inside Out!

Fashion news of the day: Vogue is launching Vogue Arabia’s print edition this spring. On the inaugural cover is model Gigi Hadid, who appears in a beaded headscarf styled by designer Brandon Maxwell and shot by Inez and Vinoodh. The launch takes place in the middle of a politically charged moment but perhaps the fashion community will lead the way to world-wide acceptance and representation. Says Hadid about her cover (on her Instagram account): “I think the beautiful thing about there being international Vogue’s is that, as a fashion community, we are able to celebrate, and share with the world, different cultures. Being half-Palestinian, it means the world to me to be on the first-ever cover(s) of @voguearabia, and I hope that this magazine will show another layer of the fashion industry’s desire to continue to accept, celebrate, and incorporate all people & customs and make everyone feel like they have fashion images and moments they can relate to… & learn and grow in doing so.”

And the first ever editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia, Saudi Princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz, joins Hadid in her desire to represent the Arab world: “I want the magazine to be a love letter to Arabia.” Her passion for fashion has defined her life and now as editor-in-chief, she has a chance to lend her expertise, influence, and point of view (something she has pioneered for a long time) to this important role. “I didn’t grow up with a Vogue of my own,” Abdulaziz says, “one that reflected my identity, that reflected my background, my area, my authenticity. So for me to actually be present for that? It makes it very, very beautiful.

Please keep the conversation going and subscribe now! Love, Melissa

 

 

 

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