My name is Melissa Kaplan Guarino. Welcome to my blog! It’s a place for sharing fashion tips & stories that will help make each one of us shine brightly. What is your story?
Have I got a shoe for you! At 5’4 1/2″ I am always looking for added height. But heels often present a painful problem for me. In fact, I have left events barefoot because the pain is so severe. Perhaps you, too? My new best friend has become the wedge heel, because it provides the lift – without the pain. Wedges are also versatile; you can wear them with skirts, dresses and trousers and they look just as chic as any other high heel. If you feel as I do, treat yourself to a pair of wedge heels and stand tall again! Because there is no gain with pain and going barefoot is only fun when you want to - not because you you have to!
Photos by Alexandra, wedge heels are BCBGeneration
I love black. The minute I feel the cool temperatures, I welcome wearing it. But about this time of year, especially during a harsh winter like the one we have had, I start to see black and only black in my wardrobe choices. And I know I am in a rut. When this happens, just adding a pop of color around my face brightens my mood every time. Today it’s purple, a fantastic color but one I rarely wear. Why, I’m not sure, but today I am stepping out of my comfort zone. My colorful blouse of choice? EILEEN FISHER, of course!
Photo by Alexandra
EILEEN FISHER has been on my radar as a socially-conscious company, committed to helping young women feel better about themselves. I recently sat down with Antoinette Klatzky, the Program Director and Leader of The Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute. Established in 2010, EFLI promotes leadership in young women through self-empowerment, connection with others and activism in their communities with multiple programs for teens and young adult women. Antoinette discussed the pressing issues facing our teens today, including body image and social pressure. Here is our conversation.
MKG: Antoinette, as the Program Director what do you see as the most pressing issues facing our teens?
ANTOINETTE: I see a number of issues facing teens in our local communities today. The primary root cause of the issues, though, seems to be social pressure. The social pressures are wide ranging. They relate to higher education (what college will I get into? How will that affect my future?); testing (does this standardized test really measure my ability to think and create?); clothing (how does what I’m wearing define who I am?); body image (will I fit in if my body doesn’t fit?) etc. Teens are not always empowered to tap into their true passions and care for one another from a place of empathy and compassion. Continue reading
Didn’t we love Ellen DeGeneres as host of the Oscars?? She was so natural and so much herself; how she ingratiated herself with an audience filled with those-in-the-biz as well as those of us watching on television was truly impressive. What else impressed me? Her pre-show Twitter pic, wearing her “I am Happy” hoodie from Peace Love World. Last September, I interviewed Alina Villasante, founder and visionary of Peace Love World, and was inspired by her personal story; moving to The United States from Cuba when she was 8 months old and eventually settling in Miami. Alina feels that she is here to tell a story of peace, love and good will and that every PLW item of clothing is infused with positivity. The mission, according to Alina, is: “to spread peace, love, and happiness wherever and whenever we can.” It’s clear that Ellen feels that way, as do I. I’m buying that!
I was excited to meet Brianna; she and I are skull lovers. Members of that fashion club, who, for some rather indescribable reason love to wear skulls. When I told Brianna that I loved her skull leggings, she thanked me and told me that she had them for years and probably purchased them at Mandee. We started talking skulls and why we are drawn to them (we each own a skull sweater; mine is seen here). Brianna said that she liked that “they can be dressed up and you can really make them a part of you.” Fashion designer Alexander McQueen must have felt the same way when he created the skull scarf more than 10 years ago. Fashion meets cult meets couture meets fad meets life meets Melissa meets Brianna.
“Women wear their Birkins like a shield. They hold it in front of their bodies. It says, ‘Don’t get near me.’ We had to have one, but it was another case of the cost of an Hermès bag is my whole budget. Again, though, they surprised us by saying, ‘Come up and take anything you need.’” Suzy Benzinger, costume designer, Blue Jasmine
On Oscar night, I start watching TV early. In fact, my family knows not to disturb me after 6pm. It’s the perfect evening for me, bringing together my favorite things – movies and fashion. And this year, to my delight, ABC’s Red Carpet Pre-Show featured short films, entitled Fashion and Film. In one, Suzy Benzinger, costume designer for Woody Allen’s film, Blue Jasmine, talks about how important Cate Blanchett’s Hermès Birkin handbag was to the story; in fact, Ms. Benzinger says the bag actually is another character, playing a prominent role in most scenes.
It’s what this blog is about; fashion playing an important role in our lives – our armor, our shields, ourselves.
Marci Kessler is the CEO of DoubleTake Consignment Boutiques: four stores throughout New Jersey; Short Hills, Ridgewood, Englewood and Red Bank. She has over 21 years experience in the fashion industry and has been involved in managing and maintaining the unique world of quality, designer consignment since launching her first boutique in May, 1992. What a role model for her two teenage sons, who have watched each of their parents run their own businesses and work hard every day to maintain them. But, of course, she had no idea this would be her future when she got her first job in high school, working in the changing room at Loehmann’s …
MKG: Marci, what did you learn from that early experience at Loehmann’s?
Marci: Ultimately, I learned much more than I thought at the time. I remember my manager would go through the racks at the end of the day and make sure that every piece of clothing looked perfect. I needed to check that before I could leave the store; I think that is why I am a stickler today. Working in Loehmann’s I developed skills in merchandising, display, and customer service. In those days, Loehmann’s had impeccable customer service; it was their top priority. And today, quality customer service is the key for me. I want customers to feel like they are being taken care of when they shop: doors opened for them, help with moving their clothing to consign from the cars to the store, going above and beyond with every detail. This is very important to me. Continue reading
This week Lisa Daftari, Fox News contributor, shed light on a growing fashion movement in her feature: Women of Iran defy mullahs by embracing western fashions. Showing political dissent by violating the dress code, people who now have access to social media, are defying the powers that be. According to journalist and political activist Mansoureh Nasserchian, “Social media gave the courage to the new generation to break taboos and be open about political and social issues.”
It is another reminder of the important role that fashion plays in our lives and why the way one dresses is significant. In this week’s podcast I share this story of global self expression.