Saturday, December 16, 2017

Questions from Women In Clothes- Family Influence

This year I discovered a book titled Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others. Totally unlike any other book I've read related to fashion, it was researched and written by a group of women interested in the concept of personal style and what that means. They interviewed over 600 women from all over the world and all walks of life. The interview questions were thought provoking and the responses even more so I decided to use the book as an outline to better understand my own relationship to clothes and personal style.

Question: Did your parents teach you anything about clothing, dressing or style?

To answer directly, no, my parents never talked about dressing or style. Fashion was never a high priority in our family. I had a very basic school wardrobe and was able to select one new outfit for each school year and one new pair of shoes. I distinctly remember wearing the same outfit- a rust colored corduroy wrap skirt and mustard yellow button down blouse multiple times during the week in elementary school. I really liked that outfit. My mother also sewed a lot of my clothes. She was a good seamstress and sometimes she would let me choose the fabrics. I particularly loved a floral voile sundress- sleeveless with a little swooping back neckline trimmed in pink piping. We also received a lot of hand me downs from people at our church. Most of the clothes didn't fit but I do remember a pretty blue cotton sleeveless dress with embroidery at the bodice. I was always really interested in clothes and accessories- especially purses. It was what motivated me to start babysitting and earning my own money.

Question: Can you say a bit about how your mother's body and style have been passed down to you, or not?

My mother has always struggled with weight. As a child, I remember her always being overweight. When I see pictures of her mother I see that they had similar body styles. Short- 5'1" (four generations of women have maintained that same height) with a large bust, slimmer hips and sort of a stocky body frame. I have a painful memory of a camping trip when I befriended a girl from a nearby campsite. When I was visiting with her family, the girl referred to my mom as "the fat lady that we see carrying the water." It still hurts to think about that. I do remember her joining Weight Watchers and getting down to a size 10 or 12 and she began having some fun with fashion. Her female fashion icon was Katherine Hepburn. My body type is more like my father- leaner, more muscular but with my mom's boobs. To this day at age 87 she still weighs herself every day.

Saime Laine Bjorkman- My maternal grandmother

My mom visiting after the birth of my daughter, Jessica

Questions from Women in Clothes- A Unified Approach to Life

Question: Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationship, finances, chores, etc?

I don't think so. All of those things have their own rhythms. My relationship with my husband is very stable. We both are very low key and mellow. We've had one serious argument in 34 years. I'm pretty disciplined with my work and that is probably the area where I am most consistent. It may be driven by the fear of not being relevant. As a fashion and accessories design I'm very aware of all the changes in the industry and in the handmade world. I try to keep evolving to keep my work interesting and to be interested in my work. In most cases I don't have set, regular get-togethers with friends and family. Somehow we remain close and enjoy our time together when we can make it happen. Finances are not my strong suit. I track expenses for my business but not personally. I will say that I spend more than necessary. Chores are easy- I just have to add them to a list and they get done. I love lists.

Question: Do you address anything political in the way you dress?

Occasionally. I wore an Obama tee shirt when he was running for office. I bought a Women's March Los Angeles sweatshirt and wore it a few times after the march. I designed a tunic that says Persist and Resist on the back. As of today, no one has purchased it. When I was younger used bumper stickers to express my politics. I guess that's kind of like wearing them.
My one and only political tee shirt

With my friend Julie at the Women's March in Los Angeles


Questions from Women in Clothes- Fashion Interactions

Question: What is the most transformative conversation you have ever had with someone on the subject of fashion?

I can't think of one. Most of my friends are interested in fashion at a very basic level. They like clothes Some of them enjoy shopping. One time a friend brought me a fashion magazine from her trip to Spain. She talked about the different colors and patterns she saw on the street. My personal interactions with fashion are through my customers when I host trunk shows. It's fun to see them try on things that they don't like on the hanger. I also hosted a couple clothing swaps which brought a diverse group of women together on the subject of fashion. I also watch a lot of fashion documentaries and read books about fashion. But a transformative conversation? No.

Question: Do you notice women on the street? If so, what do you notice? What sort do you admire? If not admiration, what is the feeling that a compelling woman on the street gives you?

I am always aware of people on the street- men and women. I notice how they dress, how they move, how they interact with others. I admire people who look pulled together. Like they thought about what to wear. I also look to see whether they check themselves out in mirrors or store windows. I notice good posture, body types, whether they wear clothes that emphasize their best features. The feeling I get when seeing them is reassuring. I like knowing that people care about their appearance. When traveling, I like taking pictures of people who catch my eye.

A gentleman in Buenos Aires getting his shoes shined

A good looking woman in Paris

Italian men take great pride in their appearance

Question: If there was one country, culture or era that you could choose to live in, what would it be?

Paris today. Parisians have a sense of style that I've not seen anywhere else. More emphasis on well made clothes, less on accessories and makeup.

Questions from Women in Clothes- Taste vs. Style

This is an ongoing series of questions from the book "Women in Clothes" by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leann Shapton and 639 others. I decided to use the book as an outline to explore my own relationship to clothes and personal style.

Question: Do you think you have taste or style? Which one is more important? What do these words mean to you?

I think I have more style than taste. Over the years I've kind of figured out what I like and looks good on me and my body type. For me, style trumps taste. It is about how a person knows and defines herself. And it informs each decision in dressing. Style cares less about what others think and more about being true to oneself.

Taste references the product- the shoe, the dress, the watch- and often is related to price. It can also be bound by rules. "Good taste" may define whether a woman over 50 wears a short skirt. In that way it's related to societal norms and one's interest in fitting in. What is "tasteful" to one may be anathema to another. There are times that my taste has faltered and it's usually when I'm not being true to myself or am unduly influenced by other people or fashion magazines. But I don't think that these occasional blips have had any effect on my style.

An example would be this dress that I wore to an outdoor botanical exhibit in Tucson, Arizona. I had recently cut the pompons from the hemline because they kept falling off. I hadn't tried on the dress after the alteration. When I put the dress on and walked into the room where my friends were waiting, I saw a visible eyebrow raising on its length. I'm 64 years old. Many women my age don't wear their hemlines above their knee. I also know that my legs are my best feature and I was okay with the length. To me, it had no bearing on my age.

Question: Do you have style in any other areas of your life aside from fashion?

I believe that every facet of my life reflects my personal style. My home, particularly. I surround myself with things that I love- art, souvenirs from travel, interesting pottery, the color on the walls, the linens- everything! Each is a choice that reflects who I am. It gets tricky when you're married to someone whose style is different than yours. Luckily for me, my husband doesn't care to get involved in decorating the house but does like to be involved in major purchases like paintings or big electronics. Luckily we have similar taste in art so that helps. We recently bought a high rise condo in downtown Los Angeles where he stays during the week. He made the choices in the decor- very spare, modern, clean lines. It's his environment. We're lucky to have two separate spaces where we can explore our own style.

Carl's clean contemporary style

My funky eclectic style

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Women in Clothes

It seems like every year around this time I find a book that truly inspires me. One year it was The Life of a Bowerbird by Sibella Court. Her book hit several chords in me and resulted in first, a typewritten list of things that I love, followed by a book of drawings of those things.

Another year it was immersion into native plants that led to a line of scarves called Detritus echoing the colors of manzanita bark and dudlea plants.

This year I discovered a book titled Women in Clothes.  Totally unlike any other book I've read related to fashion, it was researched and written by a group of women interested in the concept of personal style and what that means. They interviewed over 600 women from all over the world and all walks of life. The interview questions were thought provoking and the responses even more so.

I've decided to turn this into a research project of my own. My plan is to answer the survey questions and complete the projects in the book. My goal is to not only learn more about myself but, hopefully, be inspired to more fully participate in creating who I am.

Thought I'd just use this blog as my journal since it's already established. Feel free to leave comments or questions.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Red Dirt Festival in Redlands, California

I'll be participating in this year's show with many other local artists. It's a fun outdoor show in beautiful downtown Redlands and it always feels good to shop local and support small business and local artists. It looks as though the weather will be beautiful! I hope you can join us.

Red Dirt Art Festival

Saturday, November 18, 2017
10am to 4:30pm
Smiley Park
Corner of Cajon and Vine
Redlands, CA

Here's a sneak peek at some of my new work.
I've been busy designing clothing for Fall/Winter, new jewelry,
scarves, fun accessories, home decor and gifts. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Artist Collaboration with Photographer Rebekah Schott

I loved collaborating on a recent photo shoot with photographer Rebekah Schott and the model, Sam Rainsbury.  I provided pieces from my Spring Summer 2017 collection. Some are available in my Etsy shop.