Finding your value underneath the clothes

Kathleen Baxley

Kathleen Baxley

The fashion world is focused on how you look. I’m focused on how you feel.” ~ Kathleen Baxley, Creator of Mere Basics

One thing that entrepreneurs seem to have in common (aside from their fearlessness) is their ability to find solutions to problems. That is exactly what Kathleen Baxley did a few years ago, when she developed her line of luxury underpinnings, called Mere Basics. After spending twenty-five years in corporate America, mostly working on Wall Street, Kathleen would find a new city (Seattle), and a new purpose; helping women feel good about themselves from underneath. You will be inspired by Kathleen’s story …

MKG: You were not always involved in fashion and design. What did you do in your former life?

KB: I started out in magazine publishing and although I loved that and the creative aspect of the job, it was financially limiting. As a next step, I went to Stanford Business School, and from there ended up working in Investment Banking on Wall Street. Continue reading

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Wearing a pop of color amid a sea of black!

IMGP0461I love black. The minute I feel the cool temperatures, I welcome wearing it. But about this time of year, especially during a harsh winter like the one we have had, I start to see black and only black in my wardrobe choices. And I know I am in a rut. When this happens, just adding a pop of color around my face brightens my mood every time. Today it’s purple, a fantastic color but one I rarely wear. Why, I’m not sure, but today I am stepping out of my comfort zone. My colorful blouse of choice? EILEEN FISHER, of course!

Photo by Alexandra

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“I’m not buying that!”

P1000049 3When Kate Moss shares styling tips I want to listen; she has been in the fashion world a long time and certainly knows style. But on this point, I must disagree. According to Kate Moss, there are times that call for heels, discomfort, and suffering for fashion. Says Kate: “I prefer to be comfortable, and sometimes fancy wearing flat shoes, but there are definitely occasions where you’ve just got to go with heels. There are some comfortable heels that you can run around in, but, sometimes, it’s more important to be well-presented than to be comfortable.” Kate Moss, Irish Independent

There have been too many times when I have had to take off my (really cute) shoes because I am in so much pain that it is excruciating. Nothing is worth that kind of pain. It takes a lot for me to say this, but “I’m not buying that!”

Girls, anyone with me?

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For your holiday party, tie it up with a bow and wear what feels comfortable!

My See by Chloe bow dress found at Loehmann's

My See by Chloe bow dress found at Loehmann’s

When it comes to dressing up (or dressing down) it’s crucial that you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing and most like yourself. What do I mean? You always want to feel good when you walk out the door. Even when holiday shopping tempts you, it’s not worth buying something new that doesn’t suit your style perfectly – no matter how shiny or glittery it may be. I would rather wear something I really love again and again, than wear new things that are just, so-so. Continue reading

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Is the pressure to conform hurting the way American men dress? This Brit thinks so ..

 

Steve Nicoll

Steve Nicoll

I am often in search of the male perspective and point of view. That changes today, with my interview with Steve Nicoll. This fashion-forward Brit has made his life with his family in The United States. In this eye-opening exchange we talk about his background, his relationship with fashion and why American men are aging themselves before their time. Here is Steve

MKG: Can you share a little about you, where you grew up and how long you have lived in The United States?

Steve: I was born in Chiswick, a borough of West London, England, but I am 3/4 English and 1/4 French. My paternal grandmother was originally from Paris. We stayed in and around the London area until I followed in my father’s footsteps and moved to Grasse, France, at age 19, to apprentice as a Perfumer. After my training I returned to England and spent five years working in Manchester where I met my wife Deborah, before returning to work in London. We spent two years on assignment in South Africa shortly after that. We then transferred permanently to the US in 1993 and started our family. Life is hectic but good; I stay fit by exercising and playing competitive soccer regularly. Once a year I take a few days of personal time in the outdoors to decompress with the guys.

Today I work as a Perfumer for functional products with International Flavors and Fragrances, which means that I create the fragrances that are sold to customers who Continue reading

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“I grew up in Paris, near The Galeries Lafayette”

Emilie-Rose

Emilie-Rose

In honor of National French Week, organized by the American Association of Teachers of French, meet Emilie-Rose, a 22-year old, who was born and has lived most of her life in Paris. Now living in Canterbury, England (an hour outside of London) while she attends her last year of University, Emilie-Rose and I talked about how the French view fashion and style and beauty and what is what like growing up in the fashion capital of the world …

Here is Emilie-Rose

Growing up in Paris, I was always aware not only of fashion, but of shops and shopping. We live in a part of Paris that is very near the huge department stores, like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. I have always been really girly, even from a young age. I went to an International bilingual school and looking back at it now, I wish I had been required to wear a uniform. There was a lot of pressure to dress a certain way and many of the students were from wealthy backgrounds and could afford to wear high-brand designer labels. It was tough … Continue reading

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The beauty of fashion’s authentic eccentric, Isabella Blow

Isabella Blow, photographed in 1996 - Photo credit Sean Ellis

Isabella Blow, photographed in 1996 – Photo credit Sean Ellis

Isabella Blow, was an English magazine editor, muse to British hat designer, Philip Treacy, and mentor to fashion designers like Alexander McQueen. She is now the subject of a new exhibit, “Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!” at Somerset House in London. In yesterday’s New York Times Style Magazine article, Extraordinary People, Andrew O’Hagan explores her life as a true eccentric. She is not the only one:

True eccentrics – the Isabella Blows, the Vivienne Westwoods, the Anna Piaggis and the Stephen Tennants, as if there could ever be more than one of each – are the kind of people whose entire existence is devoted to individuality and innovation. That’s what makes a real eccentric; they really mean it, and they’re willing to suffer for it. Their social function is to explode our preconceptions about what beauty is and what good taste means. Eccentrics raise the bar on the impossible.” ~ Andrew O’Hagan

I ask myself what it means to be so brave in your fashion choices that your style is not about standing out for standing out sake, but more about the reality that you have no other choice but to break the rules. You are simply following your heart. Food for thought for a Monday morning!

 

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Hanging out with Rachel Zoe and friends

Rachel Zoe

Rachel Zoe

A leather-and-glamour version of coffee talk, yesterday marked the final installation of Shop the Hangout in partnership with Google + and the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), with special guest, Rachel Zoe. It was 40+ minutes of pure live fun and RZ love, with Joe Zee, Brian Atwood, Shopbop Fashion Director’s Elle Strauss, Molly Sims, and The Glamourai’s Kelly Framel. Several weeks ago, Diane von Furstenberg kicked off the Google + Hangouts, opportunities to meet the designers and shop their collections online. Today, and for at least another 24 hours, you can shop Rachel Zoe’s entire collection on Shopbop and save 15% on all items by using the code: RZHangout.

The conversation was a little bit of everything; sharing fashion trends and hearing about Rachel’s collection, but mostly, it was a chance to sit in on a fun chat among friends. No doubt Rachel Zoe is admired and well-loved as is her design collection. As Elle Strauss said, “our Shopbop customers are obsessed with Rachel Zoe … it’s wearable glamour essentially and they just love your signature styles … literally, they just fly off our shelves!

This is what happens when coffee talk meets glam!

 

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Shopping the outlets with Teresa

Teresa's handbag find from the outlets

Teresa’s find at an amazing price: One of several handbags from the Coach Outlet Store (to go with her new boots!)

Teresa, aka Sassy Suburbanite, is a special woman with a shining nature and an inspiring story: a former single mother of two accomplished young women, she recently married, and her family of three has grown to a family of six. She knows the value of good style while at the same time understanding the realities of shopping on a budget. Here is Teresa’s answer: shopping the outlets

MKG: Have you always been interested in shopping the outlets or is it a relatively new discovery?

Teresa: Outlets are a relatively new discovery for me over the last ten years. I have been to the outlets about four or five times. I was a single mom for many years and now my husband and I have four kids in college at once. Needless to say, I’m always looking for a good valueContinue reading

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Maestra Sarta (Master Seamstress)

The maestra sarta

Josephine’s mother, maestra sarta

Josephine’s mother was a maestra sarta, a master seamstress, which was and still is a highly respected and honorable profession in Italy, where she was born. This is the story of Josephine’s mother and the gift she gave two generations of women …

My mom was born in a small town in Italy in 1931. She loved school and hoped to continue her education, but when she finished the 8th grade her family needed her at home to help out. It was the early 1940s, the country was at war, supplies were scarce, and my mother was the oldest of five children. Her mom was not well. She was needed: she sewed shirts, using parts of older shirts to fix newer ones, washed clothes by hand, and ironed for hours so that her younger siblings and extended family had the proper clothing to continue attending school or work. Her family was refined and tried to maintain a normal life despite food shortages and the other casualties of war. My mom remembers that her uncle, a shoemaker, made her high-heeled shoes out of a leather bag and wood. Growing up, I was often told about those shoes; my mom received many compliments when she wore the shoes with a dress she had made.

As the war ended and her younger siblings continued their schooling, my mom had to figure out what to do. She felt that she was too old to start high school and she was still helping out at home. Her dad offered to pay for her to apprentice with a master tailor. She would learn how to design clothing and cut a pattern and sew. This was a very respected profession in those days since many people had their clothes made for them. There weren’t any malls in Italy where people could shop for mass-produced clothing. Since most women of her generation lived with their parents or their husbands and never worked, my grandfather was rather progressive. My mom continued her training in fits and starts, as she also helped at home. She made clothing for her extended family and friends but never worked for a company or opened her own business. In spite of the hardships she faced she remained faithful to her passion: she loved the latest fashions, followed fashion in magazines and imitated the styles of the time, adapting to her conservative culture when needed. Continue reading

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