It warms the heart to enjoy a conversation with a young woman with whom you have history and have known all of her life. I sat down with Phoebe, who turned sixteen last month, and at first, all I could see was the adorable cherub of a baby I once knew. But as Phoebe spoke, I left the baby behind and saw only the young woman sitting next to me. And isn’t she effortlessly chic and stylish? Here is Phoebe, in her own words: on fashion, where she shops, and the need to express oneself …

My feeling about fashion is that you should dress the way you want to dress. I never understood trends. I just pick the things I like and I wear them …

My high school is big (Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, or simply, La Guardia High School), and like any other large school there is a wide range of fashion looks. But we definitely feel free to express who we really are without judgment. Sometimes students’ choices are wonderful and sometimes terrible, but at least they are their own and I think that is what’s important …

I shop at J. Crew, Forever 21 and The Gap. If I had to pick my favorite place to shop, I would say J. Crew, because their clothes are always current and classy. My friends and I also like to shop at Buffalo Exchange, a consignment shop filled with current looks and is geared toward a young, hip crowd. There really isn’t one store where I shop most, because I look everywhere for pieces that fit my style. As long as it’s not too expensive and I think I can make it work in my wardrobe, I’ll buy it …

I wonder about the connection between fashion and self-esteem and people who don’t care about how they dress or what others think. I have a certain level of self-respect and it affects how I choose to dress. From what I observe at school people care about how they present themselves, too; from their outfits, to their makeup, to their shoes and their accessories. I think it’s connected to having a more positive self-esteem …

I used to wear only jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. Now, I like to add different pieces to enhance my outfits and go a step further. I may choose a collared shirt under a sweater, with leggings and boots, for example. I’m also warming up to accessories like headbands and bracelets and I have a pair of pearl earrings that I wear with everything. I’m definitely more open to different styles.” ~ Phoebe

Phoebe, you are doing so well! I think you have a smart fashion sense and a solid perspective on the benefits of expressing yourself through your clothing choices. I love to see it and to see you too!  xx, Melissa

Farnoosh’s sister

Farnoosh's sister Fara

Farnoosh’s sister Fara

Do you remember Farnoosh? She moved to The United States from Iran ten years ago with her parents and two older sisters. We spoke about how difficult the move and transition was for her at the tender pre-teen age of twelve, about how Farnoosh views fashion, and about the need for us to express ourselves, no matter what our circumstance; even when restrictions are placed upon us and our expression comes in the form of colorful fashion accessories, as in the case of Farnoosh’s female cousin, who lives in a modern-day Iran.

I spent the last morning of 2012 having a cup of coffee with Farnoosh and her oldest sister, Fara (her middle sister, Farnaz, lives in San Diego). Fara is 29 and is living in Chicago as she pursues her Master’s Degree in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Like her sister, Fara is lovely and creative and full of energy. She has her own story and relationship with fashion. Here is Fara …

When we left Iran I was nineteen. It took me a while to get comfortable, but I was open to the move. I had already graduated from high school in Iran and had an idea that I wanted to be an artist. I stayed local when I first arrived, and for the first year and a half learned English as a second language at Seton Hall University. Immediately I knew that the school was too small for me and that I needed more. I was drawn to New York City and left Seton Hall for New York, where I attended NYIT, the New York Institute of Technology, and graduated with a degree in architecture …

I’m a city person and from the minute I came to New York I was happy. I loved the energy and the diversity and how people in NY are original, especially in the way they think and dress. My favorite thing to do became walking: I would walk everywhere! I was inspired by the streets and the windows. That might be why I dislike shopping in malls where everything is so generic and everyone looks the same. I can’t be linked to only one brand and one designer, head-to-toe. I like variety and dressing high and low. That is why I am a fan of H&M …

I would describe my look as chic enough but not too fancy. I enjoy mixing pieces and remaining eclectic. My passions remain shoes and handbags!” ~ Fara

Fara and Farnoosh have adopted their American life but also embrace their Iranian culture. We had an interesting conversation about what that means. I shared with them that I have Colombian blood and at one time I wasn’t comfortable embracing it, but as I get older, I understand that it is a major part of who I am and I treasure it. I guess that explains why I love Latin music and always want to start salsa dancing … even though I don’t know how!!

I hope I meet Farnoosh and Fara again soon – and meet their middle sister next – Farnaz!

What do you think?

Farnoosh and Fara

Fara with Farnoosh

Fara with me

Fara with me

Come to Costco …



… for the Holidays.

Have you been to warehouse giant Costco lately? It is a wonderland for holiday shopping. I am a member of Costco, but I confess that I don’t shop here often. It’s a bit too far away for it to be a regular on my radar. But today, I was in need of some heavy-duty paper products, and what I discovered when I walked through the (huge) doors blew me away! In addition to the equipment and the appliances and the food and the books and the music and the clothes and even more clothes, were a few specialty items, in time for gift giving …

Tuzzi Italian leather

Tuzzi Italian leather gloves

A sea of faux fur coats for the young fashionista

A sea of faux fur coats for  young fashionistas

Seasons Three and Four of I Love Lucy (just because she's my all-time favorite!)

Seasons Three and Four of “I Love Lucy” (my all-time favorite because … who doesn’t love Lucy?)

Come to Costco and see for yourself! And Happy Holidays to you!

What do you think?

A match made in heaven …

P1030022Today, December 1st, marks the first day of a limited partnership between Target and Neiman Marcus. Items for sale are a selection of holiday-inspired gifts. Now I have been down this road with Target before: first, a year ago when the giant retail savings store partnered with Missoni and later, with Jason Wu. Although I did purchase items (I have some wonderful treats from the Missoni-for-Target pairing, including rain boots and shoes, and I also have a gray, lace tee from Jason Wu), both experiences took their toll and left me frustrated and disillusioned. The lines were long, the shoppers pushy, and the shelves for the most part, were empty. On-line shopping was not much more satisfying as items ran out quickly. This time, however, was different. I arrived in-store late morning to find the shelves still well-stocked and most items readily available on-line.

Why do I bother and why might you want to try it, too? Because I may never have the chance to afford some of these beautiful things any other way. I now own a Judith Leiber compact mirror with real, pink crystal stones. Hungarian-American born designer Judith Leiber is the quintessential artist; her luxury handbags are works of art. But they are also supremely expensive: this is my chance to have one of her jeweled pieces of my own! And I also bought a journal set from Carolina Herrera, because now I know her and I feel connected! I will be writing my blog notes in my Carolina Herrera journals. How wonderful is that?

Perhaps the third time is the charm. Perhaps Target is getting it right. I say, give it a try. Give something lovely and treasured to someone or better yet, save the gift for yourself.

What do you think?

Lezli’s thoughts on fashion …

Lezli Salz-Bradley

Lezli Salz-Bradley is the owner of Willow St. Boutique located in both Summit and Morristown, New Jersey. Her boutiques reflect her creative and adventurous style and carry a variety of interesting designer choices. When you walk in there is always someone ready to help with informed styling options. I love Willow St. because it reminds me of my time as a child in Southern California; chic dressing yet with a casual and bohemian edge (and much like the Ann Taylor-of old that I remember as a seventh-grader, shopping with my mom). Unplugged, here are Lezli’s thoughts …

My father brought fashion into our home at an early age; he owned several women’s clothing stores in Denver, Colorado. I have always felt that fashion is one’s self expression and my way of exploring my inner self, good or bad.

I knew that I always wanted to be my own boss and if I could incorporate my love of fashion it would be a win-win!

I love bringing new designers and new styles to our clients. I can visualize certain customers in particular colors and styles. I love introducing newness. It’s a sort of high when I find a designer that offers something original. I love to wow my customers!

One of the things I notice is that women are hesitant to try new things. That’s where my staff shines; getting them to be adventurous and make the outfit their own. I love it when I hear ‘I would never have tried that if you didn’t suggest it, and I was the hit of the party!’

I think clothing does affect our self-esteem; whether it is hiding a bulge here and there or just bringing a smile to someone’s face with a sparkling necklace or earring.”

~ Lezli

Excuse me while I run to Willow St. to find those great pants that Lezli is wearing! Is that pleather with velvet trim?


Solve your problem, shop on-line

I found my own pair of red suede shoes shopping on-line at Boden USA.

In the past two days, I have purchased items on-line that I could not find in the stores, once again reminding me: solve my problem, shop on-line. It is true that you can’t find everything on-line and also true, that items may arrive that are not right; neither the size nor the color or fabric. But it is also possible, more often than not, to easily meet your fashion needs by simply making a call or ordering on the computer. Problem solved.

Here is how the last two days went. First, I shopped in-store for a few corduroy slacks for my son, only to be told that they don’t carry his size at the store; I must buy them on-line. Next, I (and every other woman or man on a pre-storm tracking mission) traveled to The Home Depot looking for a cover for our patio furniture to protect it when Hurricane Sandy strikes (and I hope not too hard!), only to be told that the store is all sold out and I must order on-line. These two reminders, coming on the heels (no pun intended) of finding the perfect red suede wedge shoes at Boden (a favorite on-line destination, London-based clothing company).

When life gets a little crazy, make it easier on yourself. Shop efficiently and travel less. Solve your problem, shop on-line.

What do you think?


Luxe Rachel Zoe on QVC

Do you want to go to a fashion party where you can see fashion stylists, designers and celebrities? Here is an idea: Turn on your television. By now you know that I am a little hooked on QVC; it has become a destination for shopping for a few of my basics. But it is more than that; it is an opportunity to hear and see fashion forecasts from stylists, designers and celebrities whom I have come to know and love. Names like: Rachel Zoe, Isaac Mizrahi, Nicole Richie, Lori Goldstein, and the latest celebrity, Jennifer Hudson, have all found homes on QVC. Home Shopping may have had a practical and utilitarian reputation at one time, but today it is much more fun. And QVC is not the only game in town. It may not be the giant that QVC is but HSN (Home Shopping Network) is hitting its stride and updating its programming. The other night I saw Fern’s Finds on HSN. After watching for a moment I realized that Fern was the Fern Mallis, credited as creator of New York Fashion Week (see: SOF, New York Fashion Week, Part 1). Very cool. Other celebrity sightings and fashion labels featured on HSN are: J.Lo, DKNY, IMAN and Badgley Mischka.

Just this week (October 8, 2012) Time Magazine ran an article profiling CEO of HSN, Mindy Grossman. Grossman took over as CEO in 2006, and at sales of about $2.2 billion last year, has made her mark. According to Time, “How did a first-time CEO with no experience in television and direct-to-consumer retailing turn HSN around? It was pretty simple, really. She just got everybody to think in a whole new way.” ~ Belinda Luscombe, Time Magazine.

So, I don’t have to look much further than my television to find inspiration. Fashion and fun are coming to ME!

What do you think?

Myriam’s London adventure!

Myriam in London

Remember Myriam – The Alvarez women? She just returned from a week in London. Not only did she enjoy the beauty of London on a warm and sunny streak, but she also caught the tail end of London’s Fashion Week. Here are reflections from her trip and by the way, next time I’m going with her! …

This white jacket was only 15 pounds (translates to $22)! Isn’t it cute? This little shop was filled with original, funky and fun clothing – with a sense of humor. I would say urban with an edge. We were simply exploring a little side street and stumbled upon it ...

The windows were designed for London Fashion Week

All the windows were designed for London’s Fashion Week. This one says, ‘Real beauty is from inside to outside.’ How true and wonderful; in the midst of focusing on the external to be reminded of what really matters.

Look at this gorgeous dress! We found it in a quaint, old historic neighborhood of London – Marylebone Lane – filled with cute, little shops, and no-name brands but absolutely exquisite clothing.

Harrods – dressed up for Fashion Week

We also explored South Kensington and of course, the famous Harrods Department Store. This dress and scarves were originals by British designer Matthew Williamson and made especially for London Fashion Week

The views, the city, the weather, were so beautiful. And London has so much to see. I would never get tired of it!

~ Myriam (photos also taken by Myriam)

Betsy’s cap

“I ran into to local 99-cents shop looking for one thing, and came away with this cap for $1.29. It is the best $1.29 I have spent in a considerable time. I wore it recently in Maine, and everyone noticed it and asked me about it. I think I could sell it for a lot more than I bought it! But I won’t.

I like it because it carries the Latin flavor. I think that the image on the cap is Our Lady of Guadalupe (the Latin Virgin Mary). She is always shown in radiant light. My mom and my aunt would often pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was very personal for them to have a Latin Virgin Mary.”

~ Betsy

Betsy holding her $1.29 cap, Our Lady of Guadalupe