Calm and Cool in Beige and Black

Black and white Calvin Klein cardie over black and beige striped sweater. I bought the cardie at “Ross” and the sweater at “Forever 21”.

  Before one of my  summer breaks I worked at an elementary school where we were preparing our class for their graduation. The dress code was explicitly explained in a letter home and instructed all females attending to wear attractive frocks or skirts and blouses and all males to either wear suits or a nice button-down shirt and dress slacks. I was subbing in a Special Day Class (SDC) with about eight Kindergarten and first-grade students, and in addition to supervising them, the teacher and teacher’s assistants were required to dance in a choreographed performance of  Ain’t No Stopping Us Nowcomplete with old school steps and hand gestures.

   I wanted to look nice, but also be comfy in case I had to do something like arrange chairs before the ceremony, so I decided to meet the challenge by putting on my beige mini trench coat over my short black Calvin Klein dress. I then accessorized it with black knee-highs, black men’s lace-up shoes, dark Audrey Hepburn shades and a gold “Betsey” Betsey Johnson necklace. After school, while waiting at the bus stop, a man asked me if he could give me a compliment. When I told him he could, he said, “You have a very European way of dressing. You have a lot of style.” Tired from the long day, but elated by the kind words, I was happy my choice was the right one and elicited such a positive response.

Black and Beige Throughout the Week:

   Start with a black dress as your canvas to play with throughout the week.  You can also use a black skirt, pants or longer knee-length shorts.

*Black dress + nude hose + two-toned black or black and beige flats + beige or beige and black striped cardigan.

*Black dress + black tights+ black mid-heeled pumps.

*White sweater set + black pants + black and white hounds tooth or pinstriped blazer + black oxfords.

* White button-down shirt or blouse +black skirt + black cardigan + black tights + white flats.

*Black short-sleeved shirt + black pants + white cardigan from sweater set + oxfords.

Dear Santa…My Christmas Fashion Wish List

Fashion Illustration by Victoria Moore

Dear Santa:

   I know you usually receive letters and Christmas lists from small children who want the latest toys, clothes and electronics, but I was hoping you’d make an exception in my case and consider my fashion wish list for 2020. Through my enclosed sketches and brainstorming tactics I hope my selections will charm and persuade you to make my Christmas a little more fashionable. For some strange reason I chose clothes and accessories reminiscent of American fashion designer Claire McCardell so my choices have a lovely feminine twist. My list includes:

  1. A striped dress with a mid-calf hem, long sleeves and a nipped waist, that can be belted with either a wide patent leather, corset or chain belt. To give it a modern twist I plan to wear it with ankle boots, men’s lace-up shoes, sneakers, a denim jacket and an easy-going hat.
  2. A blouse, with a large pussy bow, in a solid color or print. By combining this blouse with my jeans and khaki’s I feel it would give them a softness that’s both contemporary and romantic.
  3. A “colorful satin pleated evening skirt” which can be paired wonderfully with a pullover sweater or cardigan, evening clutch and pretty jeweled flats or mid-heels.
  4. Accessories: A red leather purse, striped tote and satin ballet flats. The reason I’d like these accessories is because they can add new life and freshness to my neutrals without overpowering them.

So I guess that’s it Santa…Thanks again and I appreciate your consideration and dedication during this holiday season. Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy the cookies and milk I left you by the Christmas tree.

Sincerely Yours, 

Victoria Moore

Dressing Up and Feeling Better

Stark Tree Photo by Victoria Moore

  Sometimes when I have to go somewhere that either causes me a lot of stress or I’m feeling unsure of myself I dress up in something fun. Earlier this month, when I had to go to a doctor’s appointment I was very nervous and also having a very bad hair day, but I still wanted to look good and pulled together. Pink is my favorite color so I started building the outfit I was going to wear with a mauve hat I’d just bought at Goodwill Industries Thrift Store, then I selected my pink, black and white floral jacket, black and white Michael Kors shirt, beige corduroy Katayone Adeli skirt, white and gold ankle socks and the beige Guess G logo sneakers I’d just bought at Ross.

   I don’t remember now what inspired this look then but after thinking about it when I looked at the photos I took of myself in the mirror of the examining room at the hospital I believe I was inspired by a character in a book I was reading then called A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell. The woman’s name was Hanna Renstrom and she went through much of the story in a clueless haze that transformed her emotionally and psychologically. For some reason the mood of the story stuck with me as I coordinated this look because it matched my own at the time .

Tips On Building a Fun Outfit:

1) Start with your favorite color or pattern.

2) Decide on either an accessory or garment to start with (i.e., a hat, pin, dress, blouse or shirt)

3) Add other things that’re complimentary in style and color.

4) Try everything on in front of a full-length mirror and see if it work and is the look you’re going for.

How I Shop Now

Victoria Moore standing in front of “74th Street Elementary School”

WHERE I LOOK: “I’m not very wealthy, but I’m obsessed with looking good, so I shop at thrift stores that have consistently qualitative merchandise, off-price stores, chain stores and trendy shops. Even though I’ve been a regular at Ross for a long time now a little while ago I went to T.J. Maxx and found a really nice plastic chain necklace and a black pullover sweater by Cable and Gauge, so I’m thinking of becoming a regular there too.”

MAINTAINING A WARDROBE: “Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a bit from vintage clothes to second-hand finds and surplus store bargains so I have closets that’re bulging at the seams. When I get dressed to go out I usually coordinate something from my extensive selection that either tells a story or personifies how I feel at the moment.”

WHERE I SPLURGE: “Buying one thing that costs $20 is a luxury for me but if I really want something, and know I’ll get a lot of wear out of it, I’ll buy it. Recently I bought a black leather purse from http://www.amazon.com for about $70, a pair of Guess sneakers for $25.99 and a “Betsey” logo necklace for $24.99 from Ross so that was a splurge for me.”

Luxe Track Pants…A Journey

It often only takes one item to inspire you to take a fashion journey. For me it was a pair of luxe track pants.
My Fantastical Journey Illustration by Victoria Moore

While vintage clothes will always hold a special place in my heart, modern styles can be just as special when worn the right way. Anyone who’s ever taken a trip to the mall, or ridden the bus or subway, has seen examples of contemporary modes worn without regard for personal elan or decorum-leggings worn as pants and not layering items, pajamas and house shoes leaving the house without permission on unsuspecting owners, and short shorts replacing panties then paired with midriff tops to reveal flesh better well covered. To witness this type of “fashion” parade, on a daily basis, might make one become disheartened and push their own appearance to the back burner.

   In my job as a fashion/feature writer I’ve often been confronted with the dilemma of how to wear today’s trends with the class and elegance of yesteryear, but still remain comfortable. Due to the difficulty in finding reliable style icons who consistently wear things as beautifully as Audrey Hepburn or Cary Grant, the lack of sales help unless you go to the higher end stores, and the sky rocketing cost of clothing, I’m finding it harder to locate the styles I need to stay au courant without ending up in debt.

   My most recent clothing journey involved finding a pair of reasonably priced “luxe track pants with stripes down each side in contrasting colors”. I first fell in love with them when I saw them in a fashion layout in Vogue last year, then I saw them again on German fashion editor Veronika Heilbrunner in the Winter Escape 2016 issue of Porter magazine. Louche, subtle and edgy they spoke to me, and I knew I had to have them, but not at the prices featured in Porter.

Luxe track pants and red, white and blue boho dress 

   I went online and looked them up on amazon.com, zara.com, target.com, and other stores like H&M, T.J. Maxx, Macy’s and Forever 21.The closest I came to finding them was a pair of Mossimo’s for around $20 at the Southgate Target store. Unfazed I knew I was going to be at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza the next day when I took my mother to see Rogue One for her birthday at the Rave movie theater. They have a Forever 21 in the mall, so after making two trips, one before the movie started and one after it ended, I found a pair in the p.j./lounge wear section for $15.90!

    Jubilant, and vindicated once again despite our challenging fashion scene, I put them with my other Christmas gifts, and relaxed with a cup of tea and the current book I’m reading, Michael Connelly’s The Crossing. With 2017 coming up, and a whole new year of things to do, after my success with finding these pants I can add more adventures to my calendar knowing they’ll yield good finds.

Enjoying the Day in Pink and Brown

Photo by Victoria Moore

While riding the bus home from my Adobe Photoshop class at Santa Monica College I saw an attractive Caucasian man, sitting in the seat opposite me, wearing a brown zippered sweater, beige pants, and brown ankle boots.

“I like your ankle boots,” I told him. Although he initially seemed shy and self-conscious he eventually told me, “They’re from a thrift store. I’m an artist so I can’t afford to spend a lot on my clothes.”

Wearing an off-white linen blazer I bought at Ticktocker Timeless Treasures awhile ago, a pink pullover sweater from the A New Day line at Target, and a pair of brown corduroy pants from Forever 21 I knew how he felt about trying to dress well on a budget, especially in Los Angeles. But with a little time and effort it can be done, regardless of your location, budget, age or size.

Inspiration for Today’s Outfit: Ease

Happy that the weather was getting warmer and the flowers were blooming, this outfit was also inspired by two new books I’d just bought at the book seller’s stand at Kaiser-Permanente, Magnolia Table: a collection of recipes for gathering by Joanna Gaines and You Can Draw, the two magazines I bought with an African-American on the cover, InStyle and GQ, my magazine subscriptions to California Apparel News, Victoria, US Weekly, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Fudge, and Vanity Fair,  and my need for something soft and comfortable enough to wear in a long Saturday class. 

Outfit Breakdown:

Off-white blazer: Ticktocker Timeless Treasures

Pink Pullover Sweater: A New Day line at Target

Brown Corduroy Pants: Forever 21

White Sneakers: Ross Dress For Less

Wide though my influences were I learned that fashion, like art, can be inspired by anything around us.