Beautiful Journey Collage created by Victoria Moore
One cool, crisp morning while waiting to catch the bus to work I got into an interesting conversation with a young friend of mine. Bright, lovely and on the verge of entering the big, wide world after a few semesters at West L.A. College she said, “When my mother and I want to buy something nice we don’t shop over here, in the Crenshaw area, we go to another part of town where the merchandise is better.” “That’s too bad you feel you have to go to another part of town to find better things,” I told her. “Not only is it an inconvenience but retailers, in this area, won’t know what their customers want if they don’t tell them.”
Personally I believe one should try to support their community within their community, and while I’m definitely not against getting the most for one’s buck, I do think it’s up to the citizens with vision to help others see the diamonds in the rough they might be missing by immediately heading elsewhere. For years I’ve been that visionary, starting back in the ’90’s at Clothestime when I helped my customers coordinate an outfit, for the readers of my column Vicqui a la Mode for Florence News newspaper, and as a creator and instructor for the personal style and budget dressing classes I taught at Culver City Adult School and Westside Extension.
The problem, then and now, is re-educating those who’ve been victims of geographical racism and low self-esteem. How do you do it when one part of town thrives with weeds and trash compared to another where gardens, smart shops and clean streets reflect wealth and prosperity? One way is to find the unique and inspirational in your surroundings, wherever you are.
When I lived in Inglewood, California Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary and The Discovery Shop were where I got my shop on. When I worked in Watts, California for I Have a Dream Foundation and The L.A. Watts Times the Watts Towers and Museum provided culture and opportunities. Now in the changing ethnic landscape of Baldwin Village, it’s the mural I saw being created the day I went to visit the Manifest Justice exhibit, The Dollar Tree, Fallas, Target, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and the historical apartment complex Village Green. Wherever I look, in the city, I see inspiration even if it’s just a small landscaped waterfall area in front of dentist’s office in Torrance, California. Sometimes even having a change of plans motivates me to stretch creatively and see the possible within the impossible.
Waterfall photo taken by Victoria Moore
Revisiting Prada’s Fall 2014 Collection at Fallas:
L.A. has a lot of things-Hollywood hopefuls, pithy writers, excellent weather and nice beaches-yet lately its style scene hasn’t been supporting the regular folk. If you’re wealthy and rail thin you can shop anywhere, but if you’re the average consumer who only looks to your peers for guidance, you’re limited. The trick is to educate yourself by studying effectively worn fashion in magazines, on television, in the movies, and on the street, learning about the season’s new trends and designers, and then applying what’s appropriate to your own signature style.
Miuccia Prada is one of my favorite designers, and in Fall 2014, she created a line recalling the ’70’s, complete with skinny scarves added as an accent. It remains one of her best because she also added a touch of Sonia Delaunay in the color scheme. Another look that caught my eye then was a leopard and floral skirt featured in Vogue magazine. I just knew I had to live without one until I saw an inexpensive version at Fallas. Lightweight and soft the first time I wore it to my Writing Group at the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center I basked in the glowing compliments. Two skinny scarves, one leopard and floral, and one navy-blue and white polka-dotted, rounded out my shopping finds for that day.
Keith Haring Art Tee photo taken by Victoria Moore
At the Movies and Beyond:
Westside Pavilion’s Landmark theater is one of the most luxurious places to watch a movie, and on the day I saw Love and Friendship I pulled out my leopard and floral print skirt, coordinated it with a white v-necked pullover sweater and Michael Kors denim jacket. Ritzy enough to be worn from Rodeo and LaBrea to Westwood and Pico it didn’t matter where it came from, but where I took it and how.
Following a visit to the Forever 21, at the mall, one Saturday I found a snazzy black, red and white Keith Haring art tee, that became the proper separate for my skirt. Funky and edgy it was classy enough for work or a casual date at the farmer’s market. By connecting the elegance of couture with the ease of L.A.’s laid-back reputation this simple item became my sartorial bridge across the city.
Off-white short-sleeved blazer over foulard print sleeveless blouse What is timelessness? Is it a pair of super trendy skinny jeans all of your friends are wearing? Is it a kitschy t-shirt that you and your daughter take turns borrowing? No and no. If you want to know what true timelessness is all you have […]
Source: A Real L.A. Girl
Starting My Day
It was Saturday morning, and I had to get dressed for the Manga Drawing 101 class I was taking at Santa Monica College but I faced two obstacles-the heat and my ensuing listlessness. Sweating profusely, but still determined to look smart and cool for the long bus ride there, I knew I’d have to wear something visually refreshing and comfortable. To get into an energetic mindset I decided to shake up my routine and carry my art supplies in the yellow and white seashell decorated tote I’d bought at Council Thrift Shop instead of the white L.L. Bean I usually carried. My next step, selecting an outfit in colors that would compliment my bag.
Going to my hall closet I examined the stacks of folded garments when a yellow and orange floral vintage jacket I used to wear while attending CSULA as a Fashion Merchandising student caught my eye. It was one of my favorite vintage finds from Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary. Sometimes worn with a white tee and white denim bermudas, in the mid-’80s, this time I experimented with color and scale and paired it with a green and yellow polka-dotted 1960’s mini dress I got from Ticktocker Timeless Treasures and a pair of knee-length denim cut-offs. To bring out the white in the bag, I accessorized with a pair of white framed over-sized shades from Style X-Press and a white Guess purse, brown Frye knock-off ankle boots and pearl and gold jewelry.
A Memorable Encounter
Later, dripping and overheated I waited at my second bus stop hoping I wouldn’t have to wait too long. I noticed a petite woman, with long dark hair, staring at me so I smiled and said “Hi.” She told me she liked my shades and I told her about buying them with the cool black beret style hat for the field trip I went on to Palms Middle School with the fifth graders I was assigned to as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Palms Elementary School (LAUSD). After talking for a while about the state of fashion in Los Angeles today, she asked if she could take my picture. Sadly she told me despite being in the city such a short while, I was the only one she’d photographed.
“You’re the best dressed person I’ve seen here,”she said. “You represent the type of person I thought I’d see everywhere when I came from England.”
The fact that she mentioned the lack of style, and individuality in the way people dressed on the street, compared to her country resonated profoundly with me because as a fashion/feature writer I have the same opinion. I did tell her that there is hope, however, in the vintage clothing scene and at new shopping spots like The Platform in Culver City, California, but I also had to let her know that before a predominant attitude towards conformity and overdone casualness became prevalent L.A. was poised to become a major destination for design. Where we are now has not only caused the loss of industry jobs it’s also lowered our aesthetic image, making us look disadvantaged and out of it. It’s not a case of money, or even extreme poverty, it’s more a lack of pride, self-expression and awareness.
Throughout the day I marveled at this profound encounter, and felt better than I had in years that my appearance was being appreciated and praised by a knowledgeable and kind individual, instead of being insulted and bullied, by those who won’t take the time to put forth the effort I do whenever I go out. As we move into the future, with the lessons of retail failures on our minds, I know the potential is there to embrace the uniqueness we used to uphold and bring back our glorious and stylish past.