Style Rebel: Documented by Dad

Like a lot of teens, I liked to rebel with my style. I wore a lot of black while my contemporaries were wearing bright neons, and I decided to wear my black lace-up ankle boots to my high school graduation ceremony. I recall both my grandmothers expressing confusion about my choice and trying to talk me into wearing “nice white pumps.” (Nice white pumps were not in my closet and would never find a place there.) It may be that my parents also talked to me about it, but I don’t have memories of them trying to mettle. What I do recall is the close-up photo my father took of my white graduation gown, black dress, and black boots—and then finding that photo in a frame. Dad has a great sense of humor, and (like my mom) has always been loving and supportive. On the occasion of Father’s Day, this makes me a very lucky girl.

Style Crush: Stevie Nicks

I’ve had a style crush on Stevie Nicks since I was a kid (a voice crush, too). As a teen, I found out we shared a given first name (though hers was spelled with the “ph”) and I tried to adopt the nickname of Stevie, but I discovered that nicknames you give yourself never stick. I recently stumbled upon this demo version of “Gypsy” and I’ve gone to her catalog for a refresher, also looking to old live performances on YouTube as part of my Stevie Fix. (I just found out she’s got a new album out, too.) To me, she’s always been undeniably sexy and also the kind of sensitive and sweet that doesn’t hurt your teeth. This video shows images of her many amazing looks: the floppy hats, shawls, ribbon chokers, sheer and lace layers, dresses that twirled with her movements—and that hair. I loved how she would hold out her arms, with sleeves or a shawl giving her fabric wings, like she was preparing for liftoff or maybe coming in for a landing. Her voice was enough to let you know she meant every word, but her moves made you a true believer. I remember loving “Leather and Lace” and thinking she was just like that, tough and soft in just the right balance. And that’s how I wanted to be. (Still do.)

Style Rebel: Boys in Skirts, Girls in Culottes

I loved reading the news story today about a boy who protested his school’s no-shorts dress code by wearing a skirt. When I was inducted into the honor society in high school, I was told that girls were required to wear skirts to the ceremony. That pushed my rebel button—even if I wanted to wear a skirt, there was no way I was going to!—and I set out to find a way to break the sexist rule. (This was the ’80s, not the dark ages.) So I wore culottes—standing with my legs together, it looked like a skirt. They were olive green and corduroy and I thought they were cute (similar in style to the ones in this pattern from an Etsy seller).

Recycled Fashion: Always a Bridesmaid Dress

I’ve been in two wedding parties; Cori chose a navy crepe sheath for the bridesmaids, while Kristen chose a silky lavender halter dress. I was lucky to like both dresses; we’ve all seen horribly poofy and pastel bridesmaid dresses in movies (and it’s likely you’ve seen one or two monsters in real life, too). As a regular thrift shopper, I’ve also seen discarded dresses on the racks—if these dresses were living and breathing, I’d say they hang hopelessly. Which is why I liked reading today about a new site that recycles old bridesmaid dresses, Newlymaid.com. Now, if you’ve got a bridesmaid dress taking up space at the back of your closet, you can ship it to Newlymaid, where they’ll use the material to make upcycled creations or donate the dress to Clothes4Souls. Then you receive a discount on one of the site’s little black cocktail dresses made from recycled fabric. Voila: More closet space and less for the landfill… . Oh, and I cannot wait to see “Bridesmaids.”

Style Souvenir: Strawberry Bag

New regular feature I’ll be posting about style souvenirs…

This is Maggie from Venice, whom I encountered on a sunny Saturday, wearing a whimsical wool strawberry bag. When I complimented her on the bag, she thanked me and added, “I got it in Indonesia, at a strawberry farm.”

Easter Florals

I grew up on the East Coast and Easter helped to signify the long-awaited arrival of Spring. Except for the few years I remember a snowfall or cold snap, Easter meant that crocuses were popping up and we were able to play outside in short sleeves again. Also, I was able to dust off the sandals to wear with my Easter outfit. I delighted in picking out a new Easter outfit each year, usually a dress or matching skirt and top combination in colors that matched the Easter eggs we colored. This year, I shopped my closet and wore a green and purple silk floral blouse I picked up at a thrift store months ago but had yet to wear (not new, but new to me).

Family Style Flashback: Mom’s Polka Dots

I love this photo of my mother (holding me), looking stylish in a polka-dotted bikini and with her hair up. I asked her to tell me about what she was wearing in the photo and she replied: “The handbag wasn’t mine (looks like it belonged to the woman on the blanket). It was a headband in my hair (marble brown and heavy duty plastic) and the clip matched the headband. The bathing suit was a Catalina (got it in A&S and loved it).” She thinks we were either at Cape Cod or Gilgo Beach.

Vintage Find: Polka-Dotted Skirt

I found this cute black-and-white, polka-dotted silk Ungaro skirt on the bargain rack at a vintage shop in my neighborhood, Venice Vintage Paradise. I was wearing jeans and the shop owner taught me a new trick to find out if a skirt might fit. She told me to check to see if I could wrap the skirt’s waistband around my neck—if I could, the skirt would fit. She was right.

Better Than Before: Upcycled Bracelets

My favorite DIY projects are ones that involve taking something you have and making it better—more functional or simply more fun and stylish—using materials I already have. Before I added some embellishments to these two bracelets, they didn’t come out of my jewelry box very often. The one with the subway tokens now has the addition of glass beads from a broken chandelier I found years ago at a yard sale, along with some freshwater pearls from a broken bracelet. The silver Tiffany ID bracelet now has tulle ties from a leftover roll of tulle I got when I made a hair accessory for a family wedding.

Adventures in Thrifting: Strange Animals

Encountered on a thrift shopping mission for my Etsy shop: animal tops that puzzled me. First I spotted a sweater that looks like maybe a cobra is jumping over a tiger (or are they both jumping over a rope?)… or maybe they’re getting it on? Then, the T-shirt with a giraffe and dinosaur sharing a red and white striped scarf. Hmmmmm.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Opening day for baseball means summer’s right around the corner. I grew up a Yankees fan and still love ‘em (still have all my old baseball cards, too). But now I’m also a Dodgers fan. (What can I say? I love LA and am happy to call it home—but when you grow up in New York, well, you learn to make your own rules. Besides, the Dodgers started out as a NY team.) I don’t know any woman who likes to wear a big boxy T-shirt (except maybe for working out or sleeping) and I’ve found that the sports shirts I upcycle are among my best-sellers. The remade Yankees shirt pictured was already sold, but the Dodgers one is available from my Etsy shop, along with one-of-a-kind shirts for the Angels and Mets. (Other team shirts coming soon.)