Sunday, November 15, 2009

mama's little fashionista

for as long as i can remember i've had a passion for fashion. the highlight of my childhood was pouring over department store catalogs. i'd spend countless hours creating lists of "dream wardrobes"--each list at different price points, like the if-we-won-the-lottery list, the $250 list, and the bare minimum i-couldn't-live-without list. i was the youngest of four children and our income was modest at best so this must have driven my parents crazy. once a week, my mom had her nails done at the JC Penney salon and i would get to spend the whole time browsing the childrens clothing section by myself, marveling at the coordinated sets, and fingering the fabrics, and if i had time try on different outfits. this must have driven the sales people crazy. this love for clothing has alwasy been my favorite pasttime--anytime we go on vacation i want to see the boutiques and vintage stores, every birthday its how i want to spend my day, any extra money that comes our way, i immediately dream up an afternoon at anthropologie. if we are going to go somewhere special like a concert, i will spend the weeks leading up to said event looking for the perfect thing to wear. this, of course, can drive blake a little crazy, too.


when i think back to my childhood, the things that stand out the most are not birthday parties or sports or school...its wandering thorugh malls and admist clothing racks. once, when i was about nine, my sister gave me $100 and i asked my mom to take me to the emporium where i proceeded to choose an assortment of cotton pieces with the most mix-and-match potential to maximize my dollars. i especially remember a pair of paisley print leggings with grey, turquoise, and purple tones that i wore until the knees faded.

and its weird how something is just "turned on" in your brain. my parents were not particulary fashionable people, and i can't think of anything or anyone who influenced me in that direction. and although clothing is material, its wasn't a desire for material possessions or or the status of designer ware. nor was it vanity--i wasn't so much whether i looked beautiful or fancy. the pleasure came from putting something together that was aethetically pleasing. like seeing amazing architecture or being in a room designed in fung shui, fashion is taking color and texture and cultural context and making a wearable expression from it, and i couldn't turn off that awareness if i tried.

it must have been about a year ago that i noticed something. blake and mayan have always had this deep connection--they share all the same interests, you can pretty much bet that if blake is into it mayan will become a fan as well. as she gets older their love of mutual things gets more intense, and its like this "aside" from the normal parent-child relationship, a thread of a common connection that looks more like friendship. its sweet and in the past i have been somewhat envious of their bond. so this thing i saw a year ago surprised me a little bit. it sprung up and suddenly it came to me that i might get to have this connection with another child: isadore. the two of us have always had an easy time getting along, but now a new development in our realtionship emerged: the girl loves fashion.


it took me a while to see this because it started as a love of dress up. not unusual for kids to love to dress up, but she took to dressing up all day, everyday. i began to expand our dress up box...or boxes, with thrift store finds. she would watch a movie and then immediately go to the box and create a look similar to the main character. it never had to be JUST like the character either--she happily worked with what she had, so if the character wore a puffy white shirt and vest, any old white shirt and an indian print vest turned inside out would do.

i will never forget the moment though that i knew isadore had my affection for fashion, the same mindfulness about clothing that i possessed. we were at the dinner table and mayan brought up egypt, and how she would love to go there for a family trip one day. we all agreed and then isadore sucked in her breath and proclaimed "i know exactly what i would wear when we got to egypt!" i just about died. i tried not to have a huge reaction but i looked right to blake with tears welling in my eyes, and his smiling look back told me "she's definitely your daughter!!" i just had to pull her into me then and laugh through my tears. ah, someone who understands!

on her 5th birthday, totally stoked on her new look

since then its been a pleasure watching the passion grow in her and her own style develop. everytime isaodre comes downstairs dressed she looks totally put together. she sees something in an article of clothing that i would miss--there is one pair of jeans in particular that she has loved to shreads, and no jeans has been able to replace them, something about the exact fit that captures her (she calls them her "sarah" jeans inspired by the character from the movie Labrynth.) not long ago, i bought her a pair of basic old navy boot cut jeans and she took them and thanked me politely. later she sighed to me how when she's older she will design a jeans that fit close to the legs, and she used her hands to show me how they would hug her legs. "sweetie," i said "they do make those. they are called skinny jeans." "They do?!" she replied ecstatically and the hunt began for the perfect pair of skinny jeans.


this is one of her first creations--using a diaper and a yoga strap, its a corset-style top...and of course with her beloved "sarah" jeans. where did she learn to work the camera like that??

our good friend Halle, who is a designer, came to visit this summer and she let Issy (who lived in her swimsuit pretty much the entire month of august) try on her "warrior" jewelry


its gotten to the point that i actually am inspired by HER. she is just so fresh and her look is aethetically clean, which i love. its not a bunch of randomness, she dresses with purpose. i have been teaching her different names for clothing, like the different types of jackets. she loves this character called carmen san diego who wears a red trench coat, so she's alwasy on the lookout for a red trench. she'll point something out and say "that's kind of like a carmen coat" and i say "thats called a pea coat" and we'll talk about the differences. while a small part of me has always critizied myself for what can seem like frivolous time spent talking about, looking at, shopping for clothing--i mean couldn't my energy be better spend on something more constructive?--but what i know, especially by watching it in isadore, is that you can't turn off a passion, you could stop shopping altogether (i practically have) and stick to jeans and a t-shirt everyday...but you would never stop observing and having a reaction to fashion. i know its like that for anyone's passion: you can ever really turn it off. so i am teaching isadore how to have balance. we don't need oodles of clothes, and we don't have to spend a lot of money on them either; we can't hold up the family looking for the perfect outfit, sometime we just have to be comfortable and move on. and when we do find that great look, we can give one good look in the mirror and pat ourselves on the back, but then lets go out in the world and be good people. not vain, not shallow--those things are not synonamous with fashion.

the latest look: vintage cat-eye glasses, a flowy feminine shirt, the ragged yet beloved "sarah" jeans, and sneakers


i've been looking for something special to do with isadore lately, since mayan, who loves music tens to get to go to the concerts (she can sit still a lot longer...) and i know isaodre can feel lieft out. imagaine my glee, when i saw in the paper that a fashion show called junk to funk was going to be all ages at the crystal ballroom. this event is a contest for designer to use trash, or materials that could be reused, to create fabulous couture and is sponsored by SCRAP. i knew my friend halle, who is a fashion designer, would be here in portland (she relocated from bend on novemebr 1st!) so we made a date, and isadore was SO excited--her first fashion show, AND it would be for a good cause, and to promote environmental consciousness.

the night of junk to funk: ready to rock it

last night was a blast--we got decked out and stayed up late, and being under those lights and right up against the runway was something neither of us will forget. each creation was inspiring and amazing...and the materials used were incredible! construction cones, tampon wrappers, tyvek mailers, inflatable matresses, coffee filters.....it ended being a great way for isadore to enjoy one of the reasons we moved here: culture, and also for us to bond over our love of all things fashionable. oh, my little fashionista, it was the first night of many, i hope!

left to right: andrea (halle's friend and favorite model), halle my-friend-who-loves-all-thing-fashion, me, and isadore (trying so hard to squeeze in she's making a face)

the outfit i voted for, made from construction site materials including a cone and barrier fencing. that is her real hair wrapped around wires!

me and my girl kickin' it on the runway, discussing the last set

7 comments:

Lee said...

This was a great read! I can only imagine how much fun it is to find that you have something like this in common with your daughter.

korin said...

fantastic post. I love that pink kitty ! ;)

Candice said...

I know exactly how you feel! I have the same bond with Tania. My parents really didn't get it when I was growing up - words like "frivolous" come to mind. I love seeing the cool outfits that Tania comes up with. She's really got a good eye. We had a great time thrifting yesterday. Her passion has really helped me to come to terms with mine. Have you shown Isadore stardoll.com? It's like paperdolls, but much cooler. Check it out on your own first. I'm not sure what your comfort level is. Tania's been playing on stardoll since she was 6 or 7.

Mama Nomad said...

i'll check it out!

i wish i had a bumper sticker that said "thrift shopping saved my life" or something. the only way to shop without getting into too much trouble:)

The Marketing Mama said...

Wow, I'm so impressed with her sense of style at her age! How wonderful and sounds like so much fun for the two of you! :)

LittleYogini said...

Ohmygoodness! I love it! She is such a doll. I wish I had her fashion sense...I've always looked at people like you guys and thought 'how do they pull it off??'

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