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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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Seeing Red in the Year of the Monkey!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

This Monday, February 8, marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year: The Year of Monkey. The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals; the Monkey ranks in 9th place of the 12 animals. A Monkey year happens every 12 years. And 2016 is a Fire Monkey year – which will not be seen again until 2076. People born under the sign of the Monkey are wise, intelligent, confident, charismatic, loyal, inventive, and leaders. You go, Monkeys!

I wish all great fortune this Monkey year!

Photo by Lisa Reznik

 

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Clothes for Finding My Balance

Photography by Michal Efron

Photography by Michal Efron

I am two weeks into a new job (working full-time at the all-girls’ school where I substitute taught for over 6 years). The job opportunity came quickly and was a wonderful surprise holiday present! It was also a huge adjustment – working full days, every day. My recent job at Talbots was part-time, and although it gave me a jump-start to the working world (and also some chic wardrobe pieces!), it was a shock to re-enter the work-scene, after being home raising my children. Today, for the first time, I returned to the exercise class that I love. I can’t tell you how excited I was to be there, reclaiming my body and my health. This was just the first step – I plan to continue to exercise whenever and however I can and keep up my life-balance. It is so important for our self esteem and I think, makes us better at every job we do. And proper clothing helps! My outfit of choice is T for Talbots – for comfort and style. Namaste!

 

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Spotlight on Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Until then, fashion was all craft to me, merely sewing and knitting. That night I started communing with the muses, ones that would appear when I was being creative to show me the way. That night I consciously made the decision to become a fashion designer; those pictures galvanized me into action in pursuit of the career I eventually realized.” ~ Isaac Mizrahi: a retrospective of his work – “Isaac Mizrahi, An Unruly History” opens at the Jewish Museum in New York City on March 18

I have always been charmed by fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he had aspirations to act but those dreams were coupled with tremendous stage fright. He grew up surrounded by fashion – his father owned a children’s manufacturing company, and his mother had a “major obsession with clothes.” He learned to sew at an early age for his mother’s friends and for himself. But his passion for fashion and design struck him hard in July 1977, with the issue of Vogue Magazine’s special portfolio by Richard Avedon, showing the year’s fall collections. It was those images that inspired Isaac Mizrahi to become a fashion designer – and the acting world’s loss was to become the fashion world’s gain.

 

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Keeping Winter White Clean

Optimized-IMGP0273-2Optimized-IMGP0300-2This white Searle coat (seen here with my shadow on Groundhog Day a few years ago) has a great story. Ten years ago, while driving through New York City, I saw this sparkling white coat in the window at Searle. I had just watched a movie where the lead character had a long white coat and when I saw this – I had to have it! I got home, called the store, and had it shipped to my house in New Jersey. And I have been enjoying it ever since. What I haven’t been doing, is cleaning it.

I don’t know why but for some reason I don’t think about cleaning my coats as I do other parts of my wardrobe. Perhaps it’s because I don’t wear them as often as I do other pieces of clothing. But this coat is a crisp white and I should have been cleaning it. I decided to take it to the cleaner and when I picked it up it was like owning a brand, new coat. I encourage you to do the same: take inventory of your coats and have them cleaned. They are the first thing we see in the winter months and are too important to ignore.

By the way, I think the Groundhog did not see his shadow yesterday – does that mean early spring?  If so, I had better enjoy my winter white coat while I can!

Photos by Alexandra

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Who What Wear? Target, That’s Where!

One of the looks from the Who What Wear Target Collaboration, courtesy

One of the looks from the Who What Wear Target Collaboration, courtesy

It’s here! Where? Street style trendsetter, Who What Wear and Target collaboration. I announced the collaboration first in October and now, after months of anticipation, the looks have launched, both online and in Target stores. Now you can shop the collection of affordable pieces (sizes 2 to 26, everything ringing in under $50). The collection is not only affordable but filled with classic staples and on-trend add-ons to enhance your wardrobe, including striped T-shirts, feminine blouses, and trousers. It’s a good idea to investigate this affordable street style. Where? Who What Wear at Target.

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My Son’s First Suit

Optimized-P1050774My 16 year-old is attending his first dance tonight and although I was banned from showing the suit with him in it, he never said anything about sharing what it means to me to shop for his first suit. At least I hope not. I guess a little of my love of fashion has rubbed off on him. When he told me that he needed a new outfit (why am I always tempted to call my boys’ clothes outfits?). I assumed that he meant a blazer and a pair of trousers. But he meant a suit. The two of us entered the Men’s Department at Nordstrom ready to look at suits. We joined the other men receiving personal attention from sales associates, and Mila showed us what was available in Cameron’s size. Fortunately, there were several styles on sale and I think it was the second suit that spoke to him. It was a modern-cut, slim-leg, Hugo Boss suit – grey with brown undertones. I saw the glimmer in his eyes and I knew this was the one. We proceeded to the dressing rooms where Cameron tried it on as I waited in the waiting area. When he came out I felt like crying but of course I didn’t want to embarrass him (so much I do embarrasses him these days!). He looked so grownup and I saw his adult life flash before my eyes. He looked at me for approval and I said it was perfect, it was his suit. The tailor came out and made minor adjustments (again, I felt like crying). We left Nordstrom happy and satisfied, son and mother. We were still the same people but we were different somehow, as if we had crossed an invisible line into the future.

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On Becoming a Conscious Consumer …

Natalie

Natalie

Natalie is the creator of the website Sustainably Chic. She has taken her passion for ethically made clothing and created a role for herself that rings purposeful and true. I understand what drives Natalie: rather than waiting for the phone to ring, she is making the calls herself and making things happen. And the world is better for it. Here is Natalie …

MKG: When did you become aware of sustainability and why it is important?

Natalie: While studying fashion in college, I had a strong interest in eco-friendly and ethically made clothing after reading how wasteful the fashion industry has become. In my last year of studies I took a course on sustainability. Everything started coming together in my mind about what I wanted and needed to do. It wasn’t just about working with a brand who paid fair wages and cared about zerowaste. Sustainability encompasses several things: environment, society, and economics. I needed to be a part of something which affected every element, and not just the environmental factors. Sustainably Chic promotes positive purchasing {economics}, culture and community {society}, and creating smaller carbon foot prints {environment}. It is about making sure that future generations are able to thrive. We can get so wrapped up in the environmental issues we forget that in order to be fully sustainable our society needs to foster a strong economy which is fueled by the consumer. I’m trying to make us more conscious consumers! Continue reading

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Body Shaming in a Dressing Room

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

Photo Courtesy of Refinery29

“Sincerely, Mother of a Beautiful Girl” is how a Kansas mother signed a powerful letter to the sales associate who body shamed her teenage daughter in a dressing room earlier this month while she tried on a dress to wear for an upcoming formal. This associate at  Dillard’s Department Store told the customer shopping with her mom that she would need Spanx in order to wear this particular dress. When the mom told the associate that she wouldn’t need Spanx the associate argued with her. Mother and daughter then left the store and soon after the mother, Megan Naramore Harris, fired back with an open letter to the associate on her own Facebook page. In the letter, Megan said: “I wish I had told you how many girls suffer from poor self image and telling them they need something to make them perfect can be very damaging. Girls of all ages, shapes and sizes are perfect because that is how God made them. If they feel good in a dress, that is all that should matter.”

In less than a week, the story has garnered over 330,000 likes and been shared over 56,000 times (including Dillard’s Facebook page, who thanked Ms. Harris for bringing it to their attention). I am glad that this conversation is gaining momentum. Our words are more powerful than we know and body shaming is extremely harmful, especially to a vulnerable teen. Especially in a dressing room – where we already feel exposed. Hopefully, everyone can feel just a bit more empowered by this strong and supportive mother.

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Shoes for the Party in my Future!

melissashoes-7At the start of the New Year, as I cleaned out my closet, I was left with a dilemma: what to do with my fancy, Dolce & Gabbana party shoes? The truth is that I don’t wear the shoes often. I have worn them but I don’t have much occasion to wear fancy silver shoes. But the reason I bought them is the same reason that I have kept them: for the party in my future. What is that saying: dress for the job you want? I am a dreamer for sure and I often find myself thinking of dressing for the life I want! And in my dreams is an elegant party where I will dress to the nines in my fancy art deco D&G shoes. That is why they are still in my closet and will remain there – even after my closet cleanse and after the purge. Because there is a voice inside me telling me to be ready … for the party in my future.

Photos by Lauren Hagerstrommelissashoes-5

melissashoes-1

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Brie’s Lucky No. 18

Brie

Brie and her mother Nancy, on Brie’s wedding day!

When I moved to New Jersey from Manhattan 16 years ago, I was struck by the reality that I would have to shop in a mall to get most of my clothes. I do have a beautiful mall near my house and I have gotten used to this kind of shopping. But I seriously miss the boutique shops and the intimate style of shopping that I found in the city – I have missed it all these years. That is why I smiled when I met Brie Tammaro, who with her mother, Nancy, own an elegant shop, No. 18 Boutique, in my town of Summit. I knew I wanted to hear Brie’s story and what it means to be a boutique owner in a town where the mall is just 10-minutes away. Says Brie  …

I was always interested in fashion. I think fashion picks you. From the time I was 8 years old, I wanted to be a business woman in fashion. I used to set up shop in my house and invite my parents. I lived and died by fashion magazines and I couldn’t read them fast enough. Initially I wanted to be a fashion designer but after working several summers at Calypso St. Barth in the Hamptons with founder Christiane Celle (when it was a small boutique) I witness her business savvy firsthand and knew that I needed to incorporate the business perspective in whatever I did. I first attended Skidmore and got an undergraduate degree in business and management, then worked 4 years, and followed that by deciding to go back to graduate school and get my master’s degree in design at Parsons, the New School of Design …

I honed my expertise in the fashion industry for years working on the wholesale side of the business in Manhattan with Moschino, Blumarine and Catherine Malandrino. I earned my way with long hours and hard work. But eventually, I burned out and started to lose my sense of joy – which I thought could never happen. So I took a break  …

When I was ready to start again, I returned to an idea that my mom and I had about owning our own shop. My mom is my best friend and I knew that the time was now to give it a try (I had the contacts and the experience). My mom and I both returned to Summit and started to look for the right space in town. Eventually, we found a perfect spot that needed a lot of work but was just the right size. We opened No. 18 Boutique in November 2014, and have been growing since … Continue reading

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