Weekly Fashion Observations: (9/8/21-9/10/21)

Weekly Fashion Observations
An Hispanic woman I was sitting next to on the bus was carrying a blue Frida Kahlo tote, and when I asked her about it she said “My sons brought it back for me from Mexico. The best thing is it came with an apron too.”
Guy on the bus wearing a black tee and a pair of jeans.
Female employee at LAUSD elementary school wearing a long white cardigan over a navy-blue dress.

Department of Water and Power (4030 Crenshaw Blvd.)

On the Saturday I visited and photographed the Department of Water and Power building at 4030 Crenshaw Blvd. I wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t stopped to videotape a Juneteenth Day parade in front of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza with my iPhone. Out of the corner of my left eye I saw it, and was so excited I started photographing it immediately from across the street.

Exhausted and hungry, following a busy morning at BLK MKT FLEA, I ignored the urge to go to the Krispy Kreme next door for a doughnut, and explored the site instead. While this Art Deco Modern building was conceived in 1954 and it has the “rounded edges and smooth wall finishes” indicative of the style the aspect that most fascinated me was how crisp, timeless, and glamorous it looks compared to the bustling urban blocks surrounding it.

A natural landscape of trees, grass and bushes effectively shade its walkways, and the variegated palette of green compliments the red brick and light brown walls of the structure. Overall, after perusing the site, and noting all of its diverse features, the most memorable thing about it was the way squares and rectangles are consistently repeated without making it look bland or boxy. As strong and bold as the Department of Water and Power Distributing Station No. 59 I visited previously, at 11701 Venice Blvd., this one also has an added touch of lightness representative of the early 1950s.

Department of Water and Power (4030 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 90008)

Department of Water and Power Distributing Station No. 59

For many years, whenever I passed by the Department of Water and Power Distributing Station No. 59 on 11071 Venice Blvd. on my way to the Mar Vista Public Library,I always wondered if it was an Art Deco building. Solidly built, but elegantly simple, it beckoned me from the car and bus window to come and check it out up close.

Finally, one afternoon after picking up some books from the library, I walked the long city blocks down to its location.Using both my I-Phone camera and a small 35mm camera I battled the overhead sun and photographed the framed door, the striated line details, the rectilinear lights, and the period typography of the sign.

Accentuating the structure with equally sparse loveliness was the landscaping in the front that brought a touch of naturalness to its gray minimalism.

Backstory of the Building

Department of Water and Power Distributing Station No. 59

Constructed in 1940 out of “smooth stucco” this particular building is a prime example of PWA (Public Works Administration) Moderne or Depression Moderne Art Deco. Representative of the “public works projects” Franklin Roosevelt proposed through his New Deal”it is one of a number of buildings in the United States overseen by the Office of the Supervising Architects. In addition to civic structures like the “Department of Water and Power”, from 1933 to 1944 “schools, hospitals, post offices, libraries and banks” were also built in the PWA Moderne style.

Sturdy and reliable, the goal of the style was meant to “depict permanence, stability and authority”. That doesn’t mean there isn’t grace and elegance in their classicism, it just means their characteristics are more subdued. So instead of the splashy effects that traditional Art Deco was known for in the 1920s, this time there is a more sombre hand at play rendering quadrilateral justification to “symmetrical exteriors and recessed windows organized into vertical panels”.

The Great Depression

To understand why this type of architectural image was so important, during its heyday, you need to know a little about The Great Depression. Since its start in 1929 until its end in the late 1930s, there was such an economic downturn, unemployment was out of control, and the overall morale of the people was at a low point. To turn this around the buildings designed as PWA Moderne personified the security society was seeking in their lives then.

PWA Moderne

In 2021, during the midst of our own crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to minimize the effects of The Great Depression if we didn’t live through it or know others who did. Still, regardless of this, the fact that we continue to appreciate such an important part of our past through architecture is encouraging and a great way to face the future.

News of the Week: How to Start a Nature Collection (Trending)

“The most beneficial aspect of collecting is it’s a great STEM activity that teaches children a lot about categorizing, sorting, and observation.”

If you look up the word collection online you’ll see it either means “a group of things that have been gathered” or “a set of items gathered together.” That could mean anything from toy cars to comic books to rocks. It doesn’t matter as long as it includes something you’re passionate about and that brings you joy.

How to Start a Collection:

If you don’t collect something already, but want to start, there are a few things to consider first, such as your interests. If you like history, you might consider stamps or coins. If you like books, you might consider those. You could even start a collection with an item you inherited from a friend or a family friend, (i.e., a handkerchief or a watch.)

Since Summer’s right around the corner, and we’ll all be able to go outside freely soon, one of the best things to collect are natural objects, like rocks, shells, sticks and other portable souvenirs you can find either in your own backyard, neighborhood, park or school playground.

Nature Journal:

Before you start out on your expedition you should gather your equipment-a pair of gloves, newspaper to wrap your finds in, labels and markers-then create or buy a nature journal. To create a journal all you need is a large paper bag, a hole punch machine, a stack of three-ring binder notebook paper and some yarn to hold it all together. Now that you’ve created your journal you can bring it to life with sketches and observations from your trip about your surroundings and questions you’d like to ask yourself on your trip, such as “What types of animals do I see?”

Once you get your journal and growing collection home you can do further research on what you’ve collected, and observed, online and at your local library.

Storing and Displaying Your Nature Collection:

To further organize your collection, as you acquire more, you can decide what it can be based on (i.e., color, shape, texture, etc.,).To remain consistent, It’s an excellent idea to record as you collect by reporting in your nature journal. To further help you write down the information a great skill to perfect is labeling your items temporarily with a piece of masking tape listing the items date and place of origin.

Later when you want to store and display your collection it’s best to use something recyclable like an egg carton, shoe box, or glass jar to reflect the natural sentiment of the hobby.

News of the Week: The Issue of Homelessness (Trending)

Bombas Socks

The tragic thing about homelessness is it’s not caused by one specific thing and our most vulnerable citizens can become permanently traumatized. If the statistics are to be believed, California has about 151,278 homeless individuals. The disabled make up 38%, the extremely low-income 30%, the mentally ill 25% and those with substance abuse problems 64%.

Fortunately while this isn’t an easy problem to solve, there are a variety of things you can do to support the homeless and ease their burdens. Following are a few examples:

  • Education: You can educate yourself on the causes of homelessness, then help educate others around you if you see them acting unkindly or biased.
  • Advocacy: You can write a letter to your local or state government to ask for more funding or programming for the homeless (i.e., “tiny home villages created on publically-owned lands,” safe camping grounds, and permanent housing).
  • Bombas: You can buy a pair of socks from Bombas.com (https://bombas.com) and through their “Make a Purchase, Make Difference” program they’ll donate a pair of socks to the homeless on your behalf.

So far Bombas has donated more than 40 million items to more than 3,500 organizations.”

  • American Vets https://www.amvetsnsf.org): According to the 2020 United States statistics there were 11,401 veterans living as homeless citizens. What you can do to help them and other vets is to either donate your unwanted clothing and goods to American Vets thrift stores by arranging a scheduled pick-up at your home, or you can buy something online from their thrift store or eBay site. I can personally attest to the great finds you can buy on there because when I went on their eBay site I found a green 1970s and some vintage jewelry for under $100 and from their thrift store site I found a vintage fashion illustration book.

“In 2019 from January-December they raised $24,328,714 from their thrift store, eBay site, and other endeavors.”

Finally, despite the impossibility of solving this problem, the consensus seems to be in order to get it under control this country needs to increase services, social connectedness, provide affordable housing and offer well-paying jobs.

News of the Week: Tapping and Mental Health (Trending)

Since the pandemic has caused us all to experience an increased amount of stress, depression and isolation being cognizant of our psychological health has become essential. For organizations like Mental Health America https://www.mhanational.org it’s vital enough to cause them to promote May as Mental Health Awareness Month with plenty of advertising and resources.

“Created in 1949, its goal is to let the public know that no matter what race, age or sex you are it’s okay to seek professional help and do something to make yourself feel better whenever you need to.”

On your own that could be something as relaxing as reading a good book, writing or drawing in a journal or practicing yoga to your favorite music.

Tap Dancing Can Be Healing Too:

While I definitely believe and regularly lose myself in literature, write and draw in a journal, and relax with yoga and other exercises my real go-to healer is tap dancing. Joining May, in celebration, is another occasion that has special significance for lovers and dancers of tap-May 25, National Tap Dance Day. Due to the way my life has personally been turned upside down, in addition to the pandemic, I believe the art form ties in seamlessly with Mental Health Awareness Month because it encourages physical exercise and opens you up to positive feelings.

“On November 8, 1989 President George H. W. Bush signed into American Law National Tap Dance Day on the famous tapper Bojangles’ birthday. Now it’s celebrated worldwide.”

History of Tap:

To give you a little history of tap…”It originated in the United States in the early 19th century through a combination of African and Irish American dance styles. Characterized by various foot movements known as steps, flaps and shuffles it’s both extremely enjoyable to watch and perform.”

I’ve been tapping for over 10 years now, and besides being one of my security blankets whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s also a wonderful cardiovascular workout and inexpensive to do. All you really need to do it is a pair of tap shoes, a portable wooden board and comfy dance gear.

Finally, the best thing about tap is almost anyone can do it and learn something about themselves and others from this amazing dance.

Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Inspiration: Art Deco)

While growing up in South Central Los Angeles, I visited Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza many times with my mother and my grandmother on various shopping trips. Besides the ultra-chic window displays, salespeople, and merchandise I also remember going to the May Co. regularly to get my hair done at the African American beauty salon Soul Sisters.Over the years I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the architecture of the mall, so one sunny day while I was visiting, I grabbed my iPhone and took a few photos outside. Remembering the tips my teacher Ford Lowcock gave me in my iPhone Photography class at Santa Monica College I shot from a variety of angles.

Background:

Later while researching my photos on the internet I discovered the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza was built in 1947 and officially opened on November 2, 1947. Known as one of the “first regional shopping centers in the U.S. that was built specifically for the automobile” it’s still a popular neighbored destination.

Secured on both sides by two Art Deco buildings, that still remain excellent representations and retain their Streamline Moderne characteristics, are the Broadway Department Store and the May Co. Department Store.

Streamline Moderne is an international style of Art Deco architecture and design that emerged in the 1930s. It was inspired by aerodynamic design and emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and nautical elements. In industrial design, it was used in railroad locomotives, telephones, toasters, buses, appliances, and other devices to give the impression of sleekness and modernity.”

The Broadway Department Store:

The designer of the Broadway Department Store was Albert B. Gardner, and it’s located across the street from the May Co. Department Store.

The May Co. Department Store:

The May Co. Department Store opened as a “free-standing store” and was designed by Albert C. Martin and Associates. It was officially completed in October 1947.

Changes to the Mall:

During the 1980s a bridge was built to connect the two stores and “form a walkway for shoppers to the mall”. Today, in addition to a diverse group of stores occupying the mall, the two anchor stores are Macy’s and T.J. Maxx.

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.

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.