Hats Off to Ms. Victoria and Mr. Zombie (Fashion)

Years ago, before I became a regular model for the Federation of Vintage Fashion’s Vintage Expo I used to marvel at one of their gorgeous regulars. Statuesque, with clear white skin, black hair and perfectly applied makeup, the most amazing thing about her modeling style was the prop she used-a large black and white tuxedo cat! Nestled gracefully across her shoulders he accentuated every garment she wore with skill and efficiency. Later I found out he was her partner and muse when she danced professionally as well.

Zombie

Now that I have Zombie, I realize why her cat influenced and participated in her creative process so completely. He wasn’t just an important part of her team he was symbiotically connected to her creatively, emotionally, intellectually and psychologically.

Long past my two Covid vaccinations and with things starting to open up again I’m feeling a little restless and want to travel. Before the pandemic I would’ve been happy going to Catalina or San Francisco, but after being cooped up in Los Angeles for so long I want to go somewhere non-casual and steeped in history. What I really want to do is go to a place where Zombie and I can show off!

One of my Instagram friends helped me decide about our destination when, after seeing one of my posts featuring my collection of hats, she said, “If you love hats you should go to the Melbourne Cup Races because when everyone’s dressed up it looks like one big hat shop!”

Melbourne Cup

World famous and swaddled in sartorial lore, the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse, has been a media sensation since its inception in the 1800s. While doing my research for my fantasy trip, the most fascinating pieces of news I came across was that Queen Elizabeth, who set the trend for “mid-calf length dresses, worn with pearls, hats and gloves” was also equally passionate about horses, and actually owned a racehorse!

The spectacle is no less wondrous today, and definitely seems worth the long trek from California. From the writer’s perspective I can see myself taking copious notes on a reporter’s pad and taking loads of photos. From the fashionista’s point of view, I can see myself wearing a tiered, floral print Ulla Johnson midi dress, a sharp Philip Treacy hat, and walking Zombie on a Chanel chain pet leash or in a swanky carrier. Either way it would definitely be a dream trip come true.

Until the day comes when I can actually go with Zombie, however, I can always watch My Fair Lady and Easter Parade on TCM and drool over pricey dresses, hats and shoes in magazines and online, prepare my interview questions for the other well-dressed attendees, and sharpen my photography skills for all the photo opps I hope to find there.

The Charm of Gingham (Fashion: Retro Print)

I’ve always loved gingham and buy it whenever I can to brighten up my look. I’m so obsessed with it my younger brother swears every time I give him a new shirt, it’s gingham.

Throughout my research about the textile I discovered seven very interesting facts about it:

  • Characterized as “lightweight plain-woven cotton cloth” it’s usually in a checked pattern consisting of white and a vibrant contrasting color.
  • The word “gingham” is a reinvention of the Malayan term ganging (“striped).
  • Since the initial yarn is “dyed” before it’s woven it’s also known as “dyed in the yarn”.
  • Associated with more rural settings than urban in Europe and the United States, the fabrication reminds one of the country and rustic themes.
  • Gingham is popular with fashion designers during the summer, and is considered a “classic”.
  • It’s always been a favorite with Hollywood celebrities like Katherine Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Today the love affair continues and it’s been seen on Rihanna and Reese Witherspoon.
  • During the 17th-century when it was first “imported to Europe” it was striped instead of checked. Then in the mid-1800s when it was manufactured in England, it was woven into checks or plaids.

How to Wear Gingham:

Despite it’s pleasing appearance gingham isn’t easy to wear and has its own rules:

  • Shirts should grace the body, but fit comfortably loose too.
  • Gingham separates look amazing on people over 40.
  • For a retro vibe, cropped pants, pencil skirts, and tie-front tops are cool when made out of gingham and cut just so.
  • To make it appear more picturesque, coordinate it with splashy polka dots, wild leopard prints, and pretty florals. Even flannels will work, but as with all contrasting patterns, be mindful of color before trying.

Places to Buy Gingham Online:

Honoring the Fabulous Fifties in Back to School Clothes (Fashion Nostalgia Blog from 2018)

Blue and white striped Ralph Lauren shirt and red bead necklace

Now that I’m embarking on my third week back to school/work at my day job as a Special Education Instructional Assistant for LAUSD I’m more prepared to incorporate my current influences into my daily wardrobe. Over the summer I happily immersed myself in a more “put together” era, through Debbie Sessions’ historical 1950s style guides via  http://www.vintagedancer.com and the book, The Gown by Jo Ellison, I’m reading for the Fashion Book Lovers Group I’m in, on http://www.goodreads.com. Despite this reality hit, and the hectic initial schedule of the fall semester beckoned, forcing me to contemplate how to wear something comfortable, sturdy, attractive and individualistic.

Skinny Jeans

If I looked at the unofficial dress code for the part of the city I work in, I’d have skinny, pre-distressed jeans, leggings, tight slogan tees, pajama bottoms, short shorts and furry slides to choose from. If I incorporated my new ’50s inspirations, however, with the trends I saw in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and the new magazine Fudge I’d just bought at  Kinokuniya Books, I could definitely sidestep these overdone trends and come up with something more unique and personalized.

Freudian Book Page Decorations

Freudian Book Page Party Decorations

Learning Can Be Fun: Monday Week 1

With that in mind, I combined the old with the new and started my Monday with a brown and white swirl print jacket from Goodwill Thrift Store over a red plaid shirt from Ross and a pair of Mossimo jeans from Target. To give it that ’50s edge I accessorized the outfit with a yellow and brown retro print scarf tied as a doo rag around my hair, a strand of pearls and a pair of black cat-eye shades.

FIDM Tote Bag

Settling In: Monday Week 2

Contrasting the form-fitting elan of last Monday’s ensemble, my mood became increasingly relaxed as I entered the second week, and I chose to embrace the structured jacket + flowy pant look of the fifties, by coordinating a navy-blue blazer with a white button-down men’s shirt and orange and white polka-dotted tie-front pants from Kohl’s. Accented with a skinny navy-blue polka-dotted scarf, from Fallas I also introduced a touch of Prada into the mix.

Not Exactly “The Hunger” But Close Enough (Personal Essay)

From the start of the pandemic there was a question of whether or not God had cursed his people with another plague, now on March 20, 2022, that query was finally answered. Cloaked within a basic example about fashion the answer about the curse existed and proved to be two-fold. On one level it seemed as if he was punishing us for backsliding and reverting to immoral practices and on the other it seemed as if he wanted us to pause and reflect.

–Victoria Moore

All through the empty malls, restaurants, streets, and schools in my part of South Central Los Angeles an uneasy quietude seemed to unsettle some and enlighten others. Whenever I did see people, whether individually or in groups they were cordial but reserved. At times they even left a scent of perfumed sanitizer in the air.

After months of safety face masks, rubber gloves, and Zoom gear, the local fashion scene had changed to embrace the newly unemployed, shell-shocked shut-ins, and sartorially clueless. Those who’d consciously read Vogue, binge-watched old Project Runways, ordered new duds online, and kept up with their d.i.y. projects were at the top of the style pyramid, while those who’d wiled away the pandemic in tore up p.j.’s, old sweats, and tired trends were at the bottom. It appeared that the slackers who’d gotten comfortable and hadn’t tried to improve themselves in their self-imposed staycations slid downwards and those who did the opposite rose upwards.

So what do you do if you’re one of the slackers, and can’t see your way to your next style fix? You look to your closet for therapy, that’s what. Even if it’s full of things you bought seasons ago, it still has enough magic in there to make you happy, if you’d just mine for it.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with Stage IIA Breast Cancer, which meant I couldn’t work during the duration of my treatment. I didn’t have a job, yet still I had to change what I wore for my procedures. At first I didn’t know what I was going to do because at the time all I owned was a few things from Ross Dress For Less, and a lot of second-hand and vintage things I’d either inherited from my mother and grandmother or bought at various thrift stores and the Vintage Fashion Expo.

Refusing to give up, I examined the Japanese fashion magazines I’d collected when I’d had a job and could afford them, went to my closet, took everything out and started experimenting. In the process of playing with my wardrobe my closet became my therapy and my friend. All of a sudden I saw how my vintage orange floral sweater could work with a white button-down shirt and my vintage white skirt and how my second-hand Levi’s could work with a vintage print polyester blouse and my brown cowboy boots!

Realistically it’s a possibility that a good number of the businesses that tanked during the pandemic might not be able to make a comeback. A fact, I for one, would be devastated to see, but I guess like everyone else who wants to remain relevant and not die out like a dinosaur I’ll have to accept it as the “new normal”. One of the best ways to do that, especially if your appearance is suffering, is to turn to your wardrobe and make it your ally.

The Capitol Building (Creative Writing)

Cotton

When I was first painted holding the basket of cotton on my head, with my left hand, in the mural Sharecroppers I thought I’d found peace in the Capitol building. There I stood for years wearing a long white dress and red bandanna for all to see.

Although something that old has seen a thing or two, I didn’t know anything could top the fire started by the British in 1814, until that group of “patriotic roustabouts” stormed it’s doors on January 6, 2021.

Around 1:10 PM I heard a lot of noise on the steps, when those so-called “rioters”, argued and fought with the police. Now I realize as a African-American sharecropper with no school learning that I’m not in a position to judge but as a long-timer of the Capitol building I am. So here goes… whatever beef those people had with the government or the country they needed to find a more peaceful way to say their piece. Since they can vote, they could’ve voted likewise in the last election, or even have complained in private, to their friends and family.

From 1:26 PM, when the Library of Congress was evacuated by the police force to 2:11 PM when rioters climbed the walls our reputation sank and we were never the same. A snake had entered our garden of Eden and we were scarred forever.

Beauty is Still Beauty

A Letter To LAUSD Students (Education)

Victoria Moore

Dear Students:

First of all I want to congratulate you on trying to get an education during such challenging times, and second I want to take the time to tell you how to get good grades regardless of your race, socioeconomic background, or ability. Fortunately since it doesn’t require money, a high IQ, or support from others, you don’t have to worry about that. What it does require, however, is hard work, persistence, and curiosity. Learning has to be your lifestyle and a lifelong commitment. That means no matter how old you are you should still be taking classes and adding to your store of knowledge, whether that’s through traditional written material (i.e., books, magazines, and newspapers) or on the Internet.

Now I’d like to reveal the tools I used to succeed in an extremely challenging MA program in Fashion Journalism at Academy Of Art University, where I earned all A’s and B’s.What made it twice as hard as an on-site program was it was all online and all of the courses were taught by professionals in the field. Since it was organized into 15 weekly modules, where you basically worked independently, it required excellent organizational, reading, and writing skills as well. While you probably aren’t dealing with a cirriculum this difficult yet, you can still utilize my tips to get better grades and more out of your classes and education.

Academic Tools:

Reading:

(a) Get a library card at a public library and check out a variety of books, for your age, every month. Then read about 20 minutes or a chapter a day. Besides finding books, and other materials, for fun you can also find books that will help you with school. The reference librarian and the library website is also another excellent resource for you while you’re going to school.

(b) Subscribe to a major urban newspaper (i.e., Los Angeles Times or The New York Times) that you can read for enjoyment and school projects. The Sunday edition, of both papers, would be a great choice because they have various sections that are very informative and well-written. Read these papers every week, and clip out relevant stories to use for school when needed. (If you can’t afford to subscribe to a newspaper, read it at the library, then Xerox whatever you need every week).

(c) Subscribe to a magazine that reflects your interests to build up your reading skills (i.e.,Vogue if you’re interested in fashion, etc.,). Read it every month, then at the end of the year, clip out relevant photos and articles that will help you for school when needed. (If you can’t afford to subscribe to a magazine, you can always splurge and buy one at the grocery or drug store, or read one or more at the library. Just like the newspapers, you can inexpensively Xerox whatever you need at the library).

(d) Read all of the materials required for your classes (i.e,. textbooks, class readings, etc.,) right after class, then write down any questions you have about parts of it you don’t understand so you can ask your teacher in class.

(e) Buy a dictionary and a thesaurus, then learn how to use them, by looking up words you don’t understand from class and whenever you read. This will not only improve your reading comprehension and vocabulary it will also improve your writing. (You can get an inexpensive dictionary at the 99 Cents store, etc.,).

Writing:

(a) Buy a small notebook, at the Dollar Tree and free write in it for five minutes everyday. You can make lists, create a story, express your feelings, anything you like, as long as you write.

(b) When in class (this includes Zoom classes too) make sure you have writing materials (i.e., spiral notebooks, notebook paper, pens, and pencils ✏️) so that you can write everything the teacher writes on the board and to take accurate notes. You can find inexpensive writing materials at the Dollar Tree,Target, etc.,

(c) Instead of sending a text or email to a friend or family member, write a letter. It’s another good way to practice your writing.

Organization:

(a) Buy a school assignment or datebook and record all of your assignments in it when they’re first assigned by the teacher (i.e., in the book you should always include the title, a description, and its due date).

(b) While working on projects, make a TO DO list of all of the things you have to do to complete it, then check them off as you complete them.

Lastly I hope these tips will help you and that it proves to you that learning can be fun once you learn how to navigate the academic arena. Good luck and take care.

Victoria Moore

Calm and Cool in Beige and Black (Fashion Coordination)

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: Shopping)

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 (Fashion Coordination)

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 (Fashion: Shopping)

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.”