To look at Jess and me is to see two very different people. Jess is a 16 year-old high school junior with an edgy look of youth and fearlessness. I am a 56 year-old woman in the middle of my life, with a less-than-edgy look but a strong desire to push boundaries. The thought that the two of us can connect on any level is questionable. But then it happens. We start to speak. Jess tells me how fashion has changed her life and given her confidence and courage. And Jess tells me about her ritual of selecting her clothes for the next day the evening before. And then I knew that we have a lot more that connects us. I knew that we are not bound by our ages or our appearance or life experience. I knew that we are, in fact, soul sisters. Because like Jess my clothes are my salvation and the most important way I express myself. And because I also pick out my clothes the night before. I asked Jess about her story of expression and evolution …
“I never thought very much about fashion until the 7th grade. That was the year that I started to window shop with my best friend and she and I began to play with clothes, and have fun dressing up. That gave us both a feeling of confidence. Freshman year of high school was tough for me – I was very shy and didn’t have many friends. But something happened in my sophomore year that changed my life. I started taking a fashion class at FIT in New York; this class made me think that fashion can change what you think about yourself. The teacher talked about the importance of clothing and self expression and I began to believe it.I started to dress up and experiment with my style. I began to dress for school and to get compliments about my choices. It was such a nice feeling … Continue reading →
“Look, I love makeup too. It’s about how you feel. It’s about who you are. It’s about just being who you are and not letting anyone tell you who you should be. Even this conversation shows our obsession of the standard we hold women.” – Alicia Keys
I have been drawn to this season of The Voice – and to Alicia Keys in particular. There is something about Keys: her warmth, her genuine encouragement, her appreciation of the artistry, and hearing her own voice. But there has been something more – I couldn’t put my finger on it until I finally realized – she wasn’t wearing makeup! What I didn’t know was that Keys made the announcement she would be going without makeup last May. Keys has explained that the decision came after years of growing as an artist and reaching a point where she felt content in her own skin: “I don’t want to cover up anymore.” The result has been incredibly inspiring to others.
Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School
Having just celebrated the last day of summer marking the beginning of fall, my thoughts turn to the start of the school year and everything that means to parents and their children. Back-to-school shopping for clothes can be especially trying for teens and their parents.Three years ago I interviewed Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School and we talked about the value of wearing school uniforms. I realize that our conversation is as relevant today as it was then. Much has changed in three years – the sons I reference are now 20 and 17! – but what hasn’t changed is the pressure that teens feel and how wearing uniforms can be a release from that pressure. I went into the TFIO archives to bring back this important conversation with Dr. Rezach … for you …
My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person:
MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?
Dr. Rezach: It’s a question of Kent Place School’s mission.Traditional uniforms were not in line with the mission of Kent Place to develop independent leaders. We chose to offer choice for our students; in the color of the tops and in the different styles of skirts and pants – offering the students a degree of self-expression as well as maintaining a sensitivity to all body types.
MKG: Why do you think wearing uniforms is so important, especially for girls and younger teens?
Dr. Rezach: There is so much pressure on young people today, everything is “Like Me” on Facebook. What kids are wearing becomes a big issue; they are often judged and made fun of. In addition, there is a broad-range of economic backgrounds among our student community which may affect clothing choices. And wearing uniforms creates a mindset for students and a seriousness of purpose to their academic study: They know they are in school and they are here to learn. For all of these reasons, wearing uniforms is a valuable aspect to their life at school. Continue reading →
My friend Michal took these pictures of me not long after I started taking her class. It was my first formal exercise routine in a very long time; I was nervous and intimidated. At first, everything seemed too hard and scary – I felt unsure and unsteady. To match my insides I wore gray sweatpants and tees. I thought that would make me feel better, more comfortable. What I didn’t realize was that the clothes actually made me feel worse; they were not helping me to feel stronger or better in any way. Eventually, I decided to invest in proper exercise clothes and see if that made a difference. It worked: my Lululemon clothes helped me to feel stronger and gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. Even when I felt unsure, wearing the proper gear helped me to feel that I belonged in the class. I let the clothes work for me.
Now, I find myself feeling unsure all over again. I have a new full-time job and I can’t get to Michal’s class during the week. After much research I decided to join a gym. I was never a member of a gym – it is new for me – and the feelings of insecurity are returning. Just walking though the weight room to get to my class feels like an act of bravery. So once again I have decided to invest in new exercise gear that will give me the boost I need. Let your clothes do the work and lift you when you need it; they have that power.
On a recent Thursday night, my friend, stylist Kim Naci, and the editors of Marie Claire Magazine, hosted a sunglass shopping party at Solstice Sunglasses, as they unveiled their latest collection. Favorites like Marc Jacobs,Boss, Fendi, and Kate Spade, were the stars. Yet Kim believes that sunglasses are much more than a fashionable and stylish accessory; they are essential if we wish to reveal the person on the inside. Says Kim: “It’s the accessory that protects and provokes all at once! Sunglasses allow us to play a character while observing the world behind the safety of a dark lens. Feeling glamorous or just concealing a set of peepers that had too many martinis last night? Go bold with a pair of Dior Envol. Feeling frisky? Slip on a pair of Givenchy Cat Eyes. Reveal nothing yet speak volumes.”
Kayla Odenthal – Photo Credit Jeananne Sizemore, Art Whims Photography
Dreams and dreamers come in all shapes and sizes. I met a young 18-year old woman named Kayla Odenthal, a small-town girl from a neighboring city of Portland, Oregon – just across the river in Washington State. Kayla is studying to be a nurse, working at Hollister (her first job), and about to start her new job as a certified nursing assistant! But with all this going on and in Kayla’s words, “as crazy as it may sound,” she also dreams of modeling. In pursuit of this passion, Kayla has done a promotional shoot for Avari Magazine. She is not signed to an agency at the moment, but is planning to build a portfolio and submit it to agencies as soon as she can. Kayla has had a love of fashion since middle school, when she started reading Teen Vogue and Seventeen Magazine. However, at 5’3″ Kayla is considered petite for a model. Says she: “I know that I have a hard road ahead of me with my careers and education, but I look forward to the journey!” Here is more from this 18-year old dreamer …
MKG: You mention being interested in fashion and modeling since middle school, when you started reading teenage fashion magazines. When did the notion go from an idea to a true pursuit?
KAYLA:I never really took modeling seriously until this year. Previously, I thought that you had to be tall and thin and have that “perfect” body, as seen in most magazines. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized anyone can model; the type of modeling that is right for each individual just varies. I tried submitting some simple photos of myself when I was in middle school, but I was turned down. I felt hopeful, but at the time I didn’t have the confidence to try again. That changed when I met with the photographer for my high school senior portraits, Jeananne Sizemore of Avari Magazine. Continue reading →
The love affair started as a result of a bout of insomnia. Somewhat dazed from hours of flipping television channels I discovered what was to become one of my all-time favorite products: WEN® Cleansing Conditioner. I watched Chaz Dean, creator of WEN® , demonstrate the benefits of using a cleansing conditioner instead of shampoo – without detergents, without harsh chemicals, and without the lather. Soon I was hooked. I ordered WEN® and never looked back. In fact, shampoo has not touched my hair since 2010. In the early days of this blog, I interviewed Chaz Dean about why he created WEN®. This week my insomnia returned and I found myself flipping channels again. Seeing the updated version of the WEN® infomercial reminded me why I started and prompted me to re-post the interview. His is a great story. Here is that conversation …
MKG: What has been the driving force behind creating WEN®?
CD: I believe everyone has the ability to have beautiful, healthy, shiny hair and with WEN® everyone can attain their best hair. Giving everyone the hair they have always dreamed of is one of the reasons I created WEN and continue to do so.
MKG: Why is our hair so important to us?
CD: Hair and skin are really important to how a person feels about him/herself. It is how others see you and how you present yourself to others. Having beautiful, healthy hair and skin is a confidence booster and helps build positive self esteem. Continue reading →
Rivka: “Once you have the right colors on, everything looks better. You feel better. It’s undeniable … You just need to see yourself once.”
Cindy: “Your colors are unique to you. No two women are alike, so your own unique colors are really determined by you.”
My life changed color after I completed a color consultation with Rivka Grubb and Cindy Joseph as I noted in a recent post called, Embracing my Color Palette. Now, Rivka and Cindy want to offer my TFIO readers an opportunity to do the same with a summer sale: Rivka and Cindy are offering a $50 discount from the original price of $250, a total of $200, to get your own Forever Ring of Colors FROC to identify your personal colors that will guide you as you shop and go forward. And your FROC will be unique to you and you only.
To find out more simply email Rivka and Cindy at this link using the code TFIO50 (note: offer ends July 16, 2015). Rivka and Cindy will send you a set of instructions on how to take the best photos possible so they can hand select your Forever Ring of Colors.
A colorful gift you can give yourself! Happy Summer!
Lately I have been pondering the notion of age-appropriate dressing. I wonder: when is it okay to hold on to dressing habits and when is it time to break them and move to something more ‘age-appropriate?’ And who is to say??
Age-appropriate dressing is a mystery. If you are a woman in her 40s and 50s and beyond you start to question if your fashion choices are now too young for you. Or perhaps, you may be forcing yourself to dress older. What about styles you have always loved and choices you have taken for granted? There is no single moment when it hits you. There is only the shifting of life and the subtle changes to your body. Little by little you become aware that you are changing and that your clothes may no longer suit you. Continue reading →
Have you had that moment when you say to yourself: “I am not (fill in the blank) enough?” As women we often look to our bodies to fill in that missing word. I have done that. I have questioned myself and wished I could change certain things about me. After much self exploration, I have finally come to a place where I can say with conviction, “I am enough.” That is the most important thing we can say to ourselves for healthy, happy, wholehearted living.
I recently heard about the inspiring work of Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, and author of several books. Ms. Brown calls herself a researcher and a storyteller; she has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Big stuff! Listen to what Ms. Brown has to say on the subject: “This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult; to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of kind of terror when we’re wondering, ‘can I love you this much?’ … and the last which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we are enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, ‘I’m enough,’ then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to those around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”
So, say it with me: I am enough! And let’s let the acceptance and the joy make its way in.