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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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Celebrating an American Worker, Joan Rivers

 

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers – Photo Credit: Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Michigan Avenue

Labor Day is the day to honor the American working man, but I must take a moment to celebrate America’s hardest working woman, Joan Rivers. After a medical procedure, Joan Rivers remains in critical condition at Mount Sinai hospital, and today, I am thinking of Joan.

I have been a Joan Rivers admirer for a while; I followed her career, and have been inspired by her resiliency. When she lost everything, and started a new design career with QVC, I followed her (I own a signature Joan Rivers bumble bee pin). And as she worked her way back, I followed her, watching her on E’s “Fashion Police.” But it wasn’t until last year, when Joan Rivers turned 80, and I watched the touching documentary, A Piece of Work, that I had a real peek at the hard-working woman who is Joan Rivers (which I documented, here). I learned that Joan Rivers never stops. She is always working. She never gives up. And she loves her family and friends and takes care of them.

I am thinking of Joan Rivers on this Labor Day. Her family is prayerful, as am I.

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Get moving with the right clothes

P1050073P1050071I am not someone who exercises naturally. I love to walk and do as much as I can, but I find it hard to pick myself up and head to a class or to the gym. My routine is simple and sometimes, non existent. So for someone like me, it is important to commit by starting with exercise clothes that make me feel good and will help me take it seriously. Your clothes have that power. When I wear raggedy-old clothes, I am not inspired to exercise and I simply won’t do it. On the other hand, when I feel good in what I am wearing, I stand taller, and feel able to push myself out the door.

And the older I get, the more important it is to move and stretch and add to my routine. I want to stay healthy and this is one way to do that. I recently started a new class and try to be there as often as I can. But I noticed that it wasn’t until I bought this bold outfit from Lululemon, that I started to feel as if I could do it, as if I believed in my own strength. I urge you to do the same; take care of yourself and get the clothes to help. You so deserve it!

Photo credit: Michal, my friend and exercise guru, shot on location at Mondo, Summit NJ

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Francesca’s Chapter Two Collaboration with Marchesa

Francesca with found

Francesca (center) collaborated with Marchesa co-founders, Keren Craig (left) and Georgina Chapman (right) on a dress for actress Naomi Watts: Photo Credit: Kent Meiste

Naomi Watts at The Cannes Film Festival, in her gown designed by Marchesa and Francesca

Naomi Watts at The Cannes Film Festival, in her gown designed by Marchesa and Francesca

Six months ago, in a small restaurant in New York City, Francesca Azzara and her husband were enjoying a quiet dinner. They started having a conversation with a woman who happens to cast people for reality television shows, and the rest, as they say, is history. Francesca was later cast in an online commercial for Prudential Financial Services, as part of its Chapter Two Campaign, celebrating retirement and retirees. As a result, Prudential gave Francesca, a real estate agent, her very own ‘Chapter Two:’ the chance for her to live out a dream of a lifetime and collaborate with luxury eveningwear brand, Marchesa. Together, Francesca with co-founders Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, created a gown for actress Naomi Watts. I discovered Francesca’s Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts, last night on Twitter, tracked down Francesca immediately, and talked about what this commercial, what this experience, what this moment has meant for her and where she will go from here. Francesca tells her story

“The commercial developed very quickly. In the course of one weekI had several conversations, created six sketches of evening gowns overnight for approval, and was eventually selected to be filmed to work with a fashion house to design an evening gown for an actress to wear at an awards show; all of it, part of a Chapter Two story of a new kind of retirement. At first, I didn’t know with whom I would be working. Eventually, I found out I would be collaborating with two, young, amazing, and incredibly talented designers who co-founded the brand, Marchesa: Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig, to create a gown for actress Naomi Watts …

This was a dream come true for me. I had gone to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) and majored in apparel design. Continue reading

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Am I buying Rodarte Star Wars Collection? For sure, and I will tell you why.

Rodarte Fall 2014 Star Wars Collection: Courtesy of Elle

Rodarte Fall 2014 Star Wars Collection: Courtesy of Elle

In a recent Harper’s Bazaar feature, Rodarte designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy, interview Princess Leia herself, actress Carrie Fisher. Talk about meeting Hollywood royalty! What struck me most in the conversation occurred when Carrie Fisher asked the sisters what inspired them to create Star Wars dresses. Laura Mulleavy’s response? “Telling stories with clothing is what we do best. The collection was about growing up, and we thought with this story we have to have Star Wars in it. I’ve been a fan my entire life.”

Why am I buying it? Because of the message: that clothes take us back to a time and place that mean something to us. I was a fan of Star Wars, too. I took my younger brother to see all of the original Star Wars movies. He may not remember them as much as I do, but I remember every minute. So, in a sense, these gowns are about my growing up, as well. No, I won’t actually be buying a Rodarte Star Wars gown, but I appreciate what the dress represents for the designers and for all of us who watched the amazing series of science fiction and storytelling that was Star Wars. We were all growing up to a new world. I’m buying it!

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Easing into fall with Isaac Mizrahi!

IMGP1523IMGP1525Yes, I know it is still summer, and I am savoring these final days and minutes of summer vacation. But, when you see something super-special for fall, and at such a good price, I think you must get it. That is what happened last week when I saw Isaac Mizrahi Live! on QVC, talking about these fabulous, suede wedges. Says Isaac: “It is great to have a wedge if you don’t have one people have started to discover that they need them in their wardrobe, how it just changes everything.” And the shoe in black? “The black is a must-do. It starts with black.

The wedge is a heel with the lift, and the stability under-foot. And the suede is color-rich and super-chic. Thank you, Isaac Mizrahi, for helping me ease into the fall. Join me?

Photos by Alexandra (round-toe wedges, Isaac Mizrahi Live!; hosiery, Wolford)IMGP1492

 

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Joan, on the meaning of true beauty

Joan (center) with her dad and her sister, Ellen

Joan (center) in a recent picture with her dad and her sister, Ellen

I met Joan in Southern California, in the early 70s, when my family moved there for a few glorious years. We became fast-friends and found wonderful things to do in the California surf and sun. In fact, Joan and I were part of a club, which I will remember forever as one of the highlights of my youth. I think of Joan as a typical California beauty, with long, brown hair, sun-kissed cheeks and a wide-smile that says, “I am ready for adventure!” I moved back East way-too-soon, and Joan and I kept in touch for a while, but we eventually lost touch. I had heard that Joan moved to Alaska, had married and had a son, but that was all I knew. So, when I discovered her on Facebook a few years ago, I was delighted to re-connect with my childhood friend.

Just as we reconnected, I discovered that Joan was diagnosed with cancer and was about to begin her treatment. I was too far away to be of much help, except to share words of love on Facebook, and follow her news and progress. Today, Joan has completed her chemo treatment, and I hope, is feeling better and more of herself again. Joan talked to me about the experience, how it has affected her, and ultimately, what true beauty means to her, now. I am forever grateful to Joan for sharing her story. Here is Joan, on the meaning of true beauty …

MKG: Joan, it is so kind of you to spend time talking about this very personal journey. Thank you. Let’s go back for a moment: would you describe how you saw yourself as a child and a young woman? What did being a Southern California girl mean to you, in terms of health and beauty?

JOANI feel that I was very lucky growing up to have had the foundation of a loving, fun, and humorous family. Our upbringing was a balance of respectful politeness, while, at the same time, being empathetic and ‘down to earth’. We were reminded (especially during our teen years) of how lucky we were to have what we did. Continue reading

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New York Fashion Week Will “Salute the Runway”

Photo courtesy of Salute the Runway

Photo courtesy of Salute the Runway

About the power of clothes: New York Fashion Week is getting patriotic. On September 3rd, to kick off New York Fashion Week, fifteen military service women, both veterans and active-duty members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, will participate in a fashion show, during an event titled Salute the Runway. They will be wearing variations of the little black dress, ranging in sizes from 2-12, and designed by DKNY, Calvin Klein, Carmen Marc Valvo, Norisol Ferrari, and Mara Hoffman.

Similar fashion shows, sponsored by Little Black Dress Wines and Fatigues to Fabulous, have been taking place at military bases throughout the U.S., aiming to raise awareness of the difficulties military servicewomen face as they transition back to civilian life. Retired Army captain, Leslie Nicole Smith, who will also be walking in the show, says:  “We are able to raise awareness of the issues surrounding women veteran reintegration, acknowledge their heroic service, and highlight the versatility of the little black dress and how this wardrobe staple can help women veterans’ transition from military service.”

Ah, the power of clothes!

 

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Moving days, Milestones, and Motherhood

P1050020I am moving my son to college tomorrow. The day has finally come; after the college tours, the high school graduation, and the too-short summer, we are packing up and getting ready to go. To move, I will be wearing these jeans and t-shirt, which is always my go-to outfit, not just for the comfort but for the style. And I will remember this day and this outfit. The day Eric was born, I wore a bright yellow dress. He was a big baby and I must have looked like a huge bumble bee walking through the hospital corridor! Too funny. That day feels like yesterday.

Although I have the questions running through my head: did I teach him enough, did I prepare him enough, did I do enough? And although I had a fleeting moment when I wondered: How would it be if I moved down there with him? – today is not about loss. Today is about love; the love that a mother feels when she nurtures her baby for eighteen years, and then sends him off to fly on his own. I am moving my son to college tomorrow. And I will remember this day and the outfit I chose to wear. With love.

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When it comes to our hair, no more should messages!

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P1040986Hair colorist, Isak, opened my eyes earlier this week, when he talked about society’s should messages about hair and age. I realize that for the last 20 years, I have slowly but surely cut my hair, as I reached certain ages and stages in my life. And you know what? I no longer like wearing my hair shorter! So, I have changed that. In today’s podcast, I talk about these harmful should messages and remind us to stay clear of them!

Photo by Kim Naci

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How do I feel today? Splendid, thank you!

P1040961P1040974I found this dress while on vacation. Which is funny, because when I wear this simple, chic dress by Splendid, it feels summery, yes, but also “un-beachy,” and as sophisticated as any other little black dress I own. How do I feel today? Splendid, thank you!

My pops-of-color accessories? Prabal Gurung-for-Target sandals, and Cole Haan blue handbag (not to mention a NY yellow taxi!).

Photos by Kim Naci

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