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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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Cindy Joseph’s Big Reveal

Cindy_Joseph_Short_Hair-5Cindy_Joseph_Short_Hair-4Cindy Joseph has become my hero, since I first interviewed her on TFIO in 2013. A pioneer, with a mission to help women feel like their best selves and embrace who they are with positivity, acceptance, and joy. Cindy is the CEO and Creator of BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, the first cosmetic line for every generation, that emphasizes a pro-age, rather than an anti-age philosophy. It’s a perfect fit, because Cindy was a makeup artist for 25 years. And to add to Cindy’s story, she became a working model at 49 years old, when she was discovered on the streets of the East Village in New York City. That was the the very day that Cindy cut off the last bit of dye from her silver hair. It was a freeing and monumental moment for her.

What I didn’t know, and perhaps others didn’t realize either, was that there was still another freeing moment to come in Cindy’s life, a moment of profound release. That day came last month, at the end of the summer: Cindy removed all of her hair extensions, and embraced her new, short haircut once and for all. I didn’t know that Cindy wore hair extensions or that she struggled her entire life with the fact that she had fine hair. What came from the hair cut, was a ‘coming out party’ that is taking Cindy to a new celebration of who she is …

“I had been wearing my hair extensions for 14 years. When I first became a model with Ford Models, long hair was the style. A hair stylist with whom I worked, suggested that I might consider getting hair extensions. I am a low-maintenance person, but she told me that wearing hair extensions had become easier and more doable. I began to think that “I can actually have thick, long, hair.” I was excited, and having long hair gave the stylists more variety with which to work …
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Time to bring out the chunky sweater!

FullSizeRender-11The chunky sweater. The chunky sweater. The chunky sweater. Look anywhere, and you will hear about this fashion must for fall. I am mad about sweaters, and I have been since I was a teenager. In fact, I have been adding to my sweater collection for as long as I can remember. Sweaters are warm, cuddly, soft, and they add texture to an outfit. The problem is that buying a unique and substantial chunky sweater has become outrageously expensive. But, not always.

Have you shopped at Marshalls lately? I bought this Kenar oatmeal-colored chunky sweater because it was soft to the touch and versatile, with an unexpected surprise – buttons on the back. I think it compares to any high quality chunky sweater, though I purchased this treasure at Marshalls for only $30!

Give Marshalls a try. Like other stores of its kind, it’s best to go without expectation. But I have been lucky with Marshalls from time to time, and you may, too.

Thanks, Josh, for the photo!

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Daniel Silverstein Creates ‘The Piece Project’

Daniel Silverstein launches 'The Piece Project' on October 1st

Daniel Silverstein launches ‘The Piece Project’ on October 1st

On the heels of the People’s Climate March in New York, independent and globally-conscious fashion designer and my friend, Daniel Silverstein, is about to launch his new collection, ‘The Piece Project.’ What does this mean and what should we, as consumers, know about Daniel and his mission? You will be touched …

MKG: Daniel, you have always been an innovator when it comes to fashion design. Walk me through your thought-process in creating ‘The Piece Project.’

DS: The ‘Piece Project’ was born out of the idea to take zero waste to the next level. I wanted to challenge myself to create beautiful, wearable, meaningful designs out of pieces of fabric from my studio that, typically, a manufacturer would consider not large enough with which to do anything. Continue reading

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PODCAST RETURNS! This week in fashion …

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My podcast returns! Photo credit, Patricia Saxton

My podcast returns! Photo credit, Patricia Saxton

My podcast returns this week, and I am thrilled. I have been nervous to produce my own podcasts, since my engineer and my podcast-parter-in-crime, my son Eric, left for college. But I am a big girl, and I know that I can do it. Here are this week’s fashion stories that are on my mind. So glad to be back!

I love and welcome your comments!

 

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Betty Halbreich’s Memoir? I’m buying it!

Betty Halbreich, Photo Credit: Ruven Afandor

Betty Halbreich, Photo Credit: Ruven Afandor

The clothes I work with as a personal shopper (a title I have never particularly favored) are an extravagance unto themselves — the price tags on many are often too rich for my midwestern sensibilities. Yet the true luxury of what I do is the knowledge my client has as I slip a sweater over her shoulders or zip a dress up the back that I was thinking only of her when I selected the garment.” ~ Betty Halbreich, from her memoir I’ll Drink to That

This is how Betty Halbreich’s book, I’ll Drink to That, begins. I first learned about Ms. Halbreich last year, as I watched the glamorous documentary, “Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s.” Thirty-seven years ago, Ms. Halbreich became the very first personal shopper for Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman, considered by many in the fashion industry to be the premiere luxury store. And Ms. Halbreich breaks all the molds by being the best at what she does; using her vast knowledge and experience, sense of humor, and an honesty and truthfulness unmatched. Most of all, Ms. Halbreich listens and cares. Women, the celebrities and the well-heeled among them, represent Ms. Halbreich’s clients. They have been clients for years, even generations, and trust her implicitly.

But, as I begin reading the book, I discover the story of this remarkable 86 year-old woman. As a young girl growing up in the 1930s on Chicago’s South Side, she found magic in her mother’s closet, where the “clothes were my playmates.” I see that Ms. Halbreich’s story goes far beyond the doors of Bergdorf Goodman. Hers is a human story, with joy and grief and heartache. But mostly, a story about resilience and heart. Ms. Halbreich has that in spades. And I can’t wait to read on. I’m buying it. Well, I already did!

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The ever-vibrant Francesca Azzara

Francesca Azzara, in front of her artwork

Francesca Azzara, in front of her artwork

One of Francesca's pieces: "I work with wax, fabric and thread. This piece has chiffon."

One of Francesca’s pieces: “I work with wax, fabric and thread. This piece has chiffon underneath the wax.” (Francesca is never too far away from her fashion roots!)

I caught up with Francesca Azzara on Friday night, at an art exhibit, where her paintings were being showcased. Several weeks ago, TFIO featured Francesca’s Chapter Two Collaboration with Fashion Designer, Marchesa, a story of second chances and dreams come true. I connected with Francesca’s spirit immediately! So vital, she was embracing this second act of her life. And Friday, I saw it first-hand. We spoke for a few minutes, and Francesca reiterated her empowering message: “Always take chances, because you never know what is around the corner.” Don’t you love that?

Note: Francesca will be running a two-day workshop, late October – early November (Berkeley Heights NJ). For information and details go to Francesca’s website.

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Mixing and Matching on a Monday: Tory Burch and Altuzarra

P1050237P1050236The pencil skirt is a solid addition to your wardrobe and a chic choice for fall. It’s traditional, with added style. Paired and belted with a cardigan, gives it polish. This outfit is a combination of two favorite designers: Tory Burch and Altuzarra. The wonderful thing about this look is the high style without the high price. The Tory Burch cardigan is vintage, that I purchased at a consignment shop. And the Altuzarra pencil skirt, belt, and blouse are pieces from the Altuzarra for Target collaboration.

Rounding out the look, are the accessories: Michael Kors clutch, and shoes, Taryn Rose, another consignment store find.

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Doing a DoubleTake of Kelly Killoren Bensimon!

Kelly Killoren Bensimon with Marci Kessler, Owner of DoubleTake Consignment Boutiques

Kelly Killoren Bensimon with Marci Kessler, CEO, DoubleTake Consignment Boutique

Kelly's new book, perfume and candle

Kelly brought her new book and candles, “Baiser Rose,” for purchase

Celebrity stylist, Kelly Killoren Bensimon, came to DoubleTake Consignment Boutique in Short Hills, NJ, last night, to style fall fashions and share tips with customers. It was an evening of smiles, fashion fun, flare, and information. I, of course, remember Kelly from earlier seasons of The Real Housewives of New York, but meeting her in person at DoubleTake Consignment Boutique, a favorite fashion spot of mine, was a treasure treat and a match made in heaven. Ms. Bensimon stunned in a floral outfit and high heels (something she says she is never without!), but what became clear from the start was her warmth and her sincere interest in styling. As a stylist, she was confident and fearless, telling me it’s important to “have fun with fashion” and that “life is too short” to make fashion more than it is. Kelly gave me more fall fashion insights:

On fashion trends for fall, Kelly says: “florals, winter white, argyle, and A-line skirts are big. I like layering because it makes wearing clothes more fun. Henley’s are cool for kids, worn with chunky sweaters, plaid shirts, jeans and boots.” Continue reading

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The joys of a blowout

Me, and the after-glow of my blowout

Me, and the after-glow of my blowout

Tara and me

Tara and me

Okay, full disclosure: I do not blow dry my hair. I do not own a blow dryer. When I get my hair cut at the salon, I don’t wait to dry my hair, choosing instead to leave with wet hair (which is great in the warm-weather months, but is challenging in the winter!). Why I am like this I can’t say for sure, but I guess I prefer a natural look, and I guess, too, that I don’t like to take time out to fuss with my hair. But that was before I learned about the magic of the blowout. And now I am keeping an open mind. I recently noticed a blowout salon in my town, Blow In Blow Out, and I decided to see for myself what is behind this growing trend. That is just what I did. The good news? When I finished, I was pleased to recognize myself in the mirror; just a more styled version of me.

Tara Galatt is the owner and proprietor of Blow In Blow Out. We talked a bit about her story, and what it means for women to experience an opportunity to, according to Ms. Galatt “reflect, relax, and have 30-45 minutes in a hectic day to be pampered.” Further, at $35 per blowout, Tara calls the procedure “affordable luxury.” Here is Tara …

I have always loved fashion and beauty, and for years worked in the world of advertising. When I had my children, I became a stay-at-home mom, but as they grew older and entered school, I began to ask myself, ‘What’s next for me; what is my Part Two?’ … Continue reading

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Co-founder of Modcloth speaks her #FashionTruth

Susan Koger, courtesy of Modcloth

Susan Gregg Koger, courtesy of Modcloth

Earlier this month, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Modcloth, Susan Gregg Koger, wrote an op-ed piece challenging the fashion industry to change for the better, and create empowering images for all women to aspire.

Says Ms. Koger: “For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved fashion. I love the whole process: the excitement of shopping, the thrill of finding something unique, and that powerful, transformative experience that happens when you put on a garment you love and it makes you feel like the best version of yourself. As the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of ModCloth, I’m proud to call myself a fashion insider; but I’m also deeply disappointed in the way my industry depicts fashion to consumers. I look out, and it seems less about helping people find fashion they love to wear, and more about convincing them that they need to conform to one eerily consistent standard of beauty. A standard built on highly altered and often unrealistic images.”

Ms. Koger went on to say, “I think we can do better.” And she has. In an effort to reduce extreme Photoshopping and change the growing disconnect between consumers and the fashion industry, Modcloth became the first to sign The Brave Girls Alliance ‘Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge’, an anti-airbrushing petition which aims to “do our best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features, of the people in our ads in post-production.”

Ms. Susan Gregg Koger is true to her word, that fashion “makes you feel like the best version of yourself.” Brava! I’m buying it!

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