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.