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?
I 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
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 week, I 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 …
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!
Yes, 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?
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?
JOAN: I 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
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!
I 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.
Hair 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
I 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!
Photos by Kim Naci
Isak knows hair. And he knows me. I am a bit finicky about my hair. Most of my life I have worn it the same way (center part, on the longer side – at least shoulder length); yet, I realize that the older I get, the longer I prefer my hair. I just feel better about myself with longer hair. So it was today, when I went to add glaze to my hair (a great alternative to chemical coloring, by the way), that Isak shared with me his thoughts on hair length, color application, and hair do’s and don’ts. I was surprised to see a connection between hair trends and fashion trends. You may, too. (And I was glad to finally learn what ‘ombre’ means!) Here is Isak…
“Age shouldn’t define your hairstyle or hair length. At some time, it became accepted that as women age, they should cut their hair. But not every woman should being cutting her hair and in fact, you may look better with longer hair. Similarly, younger women can wear shorter hair, too. Not every young woman should wear her hair longer. The key is to understand what works best for you, and to make a change based on this, and not simply because you are following a trend … Continue reading