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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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“I don’t have anything against jeans!”

My Dad in jeans

My Dad in jeans

In the half-century that I have known my Dad, I have never seen him wear jeans. Never. Until today. There he was, in a pair of jeans he bought at Marshall’s – and I couldn’t believe my eyes! When I asked him why he decided to try them now, he said, “I don’t have anything against jeans!” And yet, it was a first. He told me that they fit a bit too big in the waist … my fashion advice? I told him to put them in the dryer from time to time and let them shrink a bit. I went on to advise him that I have been doing that with my jeans for years. Too funny, really, to be giving my Dad advice about jeans. A fashion moment for sure. Dad, I’m buying it!

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“Why Do Women Wear High Heels, Mom?”

So, the conversation started this way: my son Cameron, who is 17, looked at me in ernest and asked, “Why do women wear high heels, even when they know it’s bad for their feet?”  We were leaving for school/work, and I had just explained to Cam that the reason I was a few minutes late was because I needed to add bandaids to my feet – as a result of hard wear-and-tear caused by shoes. His question was simple and to the point. My answer, however, gave me pause. And it was not simple, that is for sure.

For the rest of the drive to school we talked about why women continue to wear high heels even through the pain. I explained that it’s never been fair for women who feel the societal pressure to do what it takes to be considered feminine and beautiful. I told him about the ancient Chinese tradition of young girls bonding their feet so that they would remain smaller as they grew, which was considered to be a sign of beauty and status. Bonding was eventually banned in China in 1912 but women had endured this painful tradition for 10 centuries. He was shocked. Cam then mentioned the tradition of wearing corsets. By the mid-16th century wearing corsets was common for European and British women. These uncomfortable undergarments restricted breathing and caused great distress, all for the purpose of raising the shape of the breasts and tightening the waist and midriff.

And then there are high heels. Continue reading

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The Verdict Is In: School Uniforms Raise Self Esteem

Dr. Karen Rezach

Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School

Having just celebrated the last day of summer marking the beginning of fall, my thoughts turn to the start of the school year and everything that means to parents and their children. Back-to-school shopping for clothes can be especially trying for teens and their parents.Three years ago I interviewed Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School and we talked about the value of wearing school uniforms. I realize that our conversation is as relevant today as it was then. Much has changed in three years – the sons I reference are now 20 and 17! – but what hasn’t changed is the pressure that teens feel and how wearing uniforms can be a release from that pressure. I went into the TFIO archives to bring back this important conversation with Dr. Rezach … for you …

My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person:

MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?

Dr. Rezach: It’s a question of Kent Place School’s mission. Traditional uniforms were not in line with the mission of Kent Place to develop independent leaders. We chose to offer choice for our students; in the color of the tops and in the different styles of skirts and pants – offering the students a degree of self-expression as well as maintaining a sensitivity to all body types.

MKG: Why do you think wearing uniforms is so important, especially for girls and younger teens?

Dr. Rezach: There is so much pressure on young people today, everything is “Like Me” on Facebook. What kids are wearing becomes a big issue; they are often judged and made fun of. In addition, there is a broad-range of economic backgrounds among our student community which may affect clothing choices. And wearing uniforms creates a mindset for students and a seriousness of purpose to their academic study: They know they are in school and they are here to learn. For all of these reasons, wearing uniforms is a valuable aspect to their life at school. Continue reading

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Let Your Clothes Lift You

P1050073P1050071My friend Michal took these pictures of me not long after I started taking her class. It was my first formal exercise routine in a very long time; I was nervous and intimidated. At first, everything seemed too hard and scary – I felt unsure and unsteady. To match my insides I wore gray sweatpants and tees. I thought that would make me feel better, more comfortable. What I didn’t realize was that the clothes actually made me feel worse; they were not helping me to feel stronger or better in any way. Eventually, I decided to invest in proper exercise clothes and see if that made a difference. It worked: my Lululemon clothes helped me to feel stronger and gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. Even when I felt unsure, wearing the proper gear helped me to feel that I belonged in the class. I let the clothes work for me.

Now, I find myself feeling unsure all over again. I have a new full-time job and I can’t get to Michal’s class during the week. After much research I decided to join a gym. I was never a member of a gym – it is new for me – and the feelings of insecurity are returning. Just walking though the weight room to get to my class feels like an act of bravery. So once again I have decided to invest in new exercise gear that will give me the boost I need. Let your clothes do the work and lift you when you need it; they have that power.

Workout gear, Lulemon; photographed by Michal at MONDO Summit

 

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My Sports Event: The Red Carpet

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

The Emmy Awards (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

While much of America was getting football cozy, a Sunday tradition, I was grabbing the remote and prepping myself for my sport: the Red Carpet. Last night was the 68th Annual Emmy Awards and I love the show, of course, but what I really love is the pre-game. It’s fashion fun – nothing too heavy – just a light look at the outfits that the actors choose to wear. It is a choice, after all. And the Red Carpet makes it all the more glamorous: the interviews, the twirling … you know. As a twirler myself, I imagine walking the Red Carpet in my favorite party dress!

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Beautycounter for Target

thumbnail_14344097_10210366548742030_4765591392275668186_nMaggie is on a mission to educate people on what it means to practice safer skincare; for the last two years Maggie has been a Director with holistic brand, Beautycounter. I first featured Maggie and her poignant story on TFIO. Now Maggie is back to talk about the release of a limited-edition Beautycounter collection, available now at most Target stores. It’s exciting to see these quality beauty products come to Target, and unlike the many fashion designer collaborations which I have featured on TFIO, this one truly has something for everyone! Here is Maggie …

MKG: Why should we all know about Beautycounter?

Maggie: Beautycounter is a B corporation dedicated to making safer, high-performing products. We believe in educating and increasing awareness around the important issue of exposure to toxic chemicals through skincare and cosmetic products. Unlike most other brands, Beautycounter products perform to professional standards without the harmful or questionable ingredients typically found in the industry. Having banned over 1,500 questionable ingredients from their product line, Beautycounter believes that they have the strictest ingredient selection process in the country.

MKG: What does it mean for more people to have access to these products, through Target?

Maggie: Beautycounter’s mission is to get safe products into the hands of everyone. With Beautycounter’s partnership with Target comes a huge awareness and more than 65 million shopper eyes on us. The exposure Target gives to Beautycounter is huge. We hope every Target customer walks away recognizing our mission toward cleaner beauty and feeling empowered with information about the need for safer ingredients. Continue reading

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SJP To Vogue: “Wouldn’t you Agree?”

810-1I give them far more advice about manners. I have a strong suspicion that if they’re good people out in the world they’ll be considered beautiful. But if they’re monsters, no matter how physically appealing they might be they’ll be considered quite unattractive – wouldn’t you agree?” ~ Sarah Jessica Parker, Vogue UK Interview

Sarah Jessica Parker was in London recently to launch her new, unisex scent, Stash. Vogue UK interviewed SJP to talk about creating her new fragrance, her attitude toward beauty – and, teaching her children about beauty.  Her response: “I don’t really pass on beauty advice to my kids …” She prefers to give them advice about good manners. I love it, don’t you?  I’m buying it!!

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NYFW Pays Tribute to Bill Cunningham

Image Source: Getty / Slaven Vlasic

Image Source: Getty / Slaven Vlasic

This is New York Fashion Week and one of its staples is noticeably missing from the scene: New York Times fashion and street style photographer, Bill Cunningham. He was a Fashion Week presence for nearly 40 years, and he and his signature blue jacket are absent – Cunningham died in June at the age of 87. To kick off the event, Day One of Fashion Week held a charming tribute to Bill Cunningham, as working fashion photographers donned blue jackets and arranged their chairs in the shape of his camera. Now that’s a fashion moment!

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“We Commit Ageism Against Ourselves”

Cindy Joseph

Cindy Joseph

“We allow these messages, these subtle archaic messages, that we lose value as we age to seep into our psyches and what happens is … we commit ageism against ourselves.” ~ Cindy Joseph

I love to hear the positive words from my friend Cindy Joseph, creator and CEO of BOOM! by CindyJoseph and several-times contributor on TFIO. Here, Cindy talks about what it means to be attractive as we age; it’s not about doing everything we can to stop the aging process in a race against time, and it’s not about completely letting ourselves go. There is something in between – an understanding that we have the power to choose what works for us. It’s about honoring this power and making our own choices. And about not judging ourselves anymore.

Watch Cindy and be inspired by her message of self-acceptance and possibilities!

 

 

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New Shoes for Back to School – and they’re Tory Burch!

Optimized-P1060503Buying new shoes for back-to-school is a tradition in my family, passed down from the time I was a little girl preparing for my first day of school. I still buy my boys a pair of shoes this time of year, even though they are now in college and high school. But I get charged when I find shoes myself; I think it’s because I never lose that excited feeling of starting a school year. You know – new shoes and clothes mean new beginnings and fresh starts – just in time for chillier weather and shorter days.

My new pair of shoes are “Gigi” by Tory Burch. I love them because they are versatile and go with everything. Somewhere between a flat and a heel (and what a perfect heel it is!), they are designed for true comfort – I can wear them to work and beyond. Described as ‘Sixties-inspired,’ I chose the patent leather, but this shoe comes in both patent and suede as well as a wide range of colors. I plan to pair them with either a slim-leg pant (seen above) or mid-knee skirt or dress.

I like Tory Burch shoes for their style and quality. I try to find them on sale whenever possible because they are pricey, yet there are certain fashion staples I think are worth the money. Shoes fall in this category. If you invest in a pair of shoes and take good care of them, they will last you a long time and provide you with a return on your investment. Classic shoes are timeless; mixing elegant pieces with fun and flirty styles will give you a well-rounded wardrobe. And there is always the dream of where the shoes can take you!  Happy Back-to-School, for the student in all of us.

Shoes, Tory Burch; pants, vintage; blouse Anne Fontaine; bag, H&M

Photo by Abrina Hyatt

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