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HER STORY, Look of the Week

Ava’s Closet…

I stumbled upon Ava and her closet about a month ago. It was pure fate, my friends! I had taken a trip along the Monterey coast with my friend, Tamara, to escape my summer woes of watching the sand trickle down the hourglass until school was back in session (see post: Going Coastal). We both like to eat good food, indulge in the local spirits, and scour through antique stores. Tamara seeks out jewelry and I suss out the clothes. It’s in our veins. It’s how we roll.

We spent the last lazy Sunday of our mini-vaycay nursing two cups of coffee and scouring the Craigslist ads. We needed an estate sale fix, or the day was going to get ugly. We figured we were in the land of luxury, so why not see what Craigslist had to offer in the area. Our veins pulsed with excitement as we zeroed in on an ad with two simple, yet captive words: “vintage” and “Chanel”! Holy shit! The gods answered our prayers–we sprang into action!

An hour later, we walked into heaven! Chanel, Tiffany, and Dior…oh my!

Ava is a two-cuff kind of girl! Now, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, “two cuffs are way more badass than just the one. No explanation needed, right?” But to hear Ava tell me why, kicked up my fashion world a notch. So I indulged her with my serious cuff inquisition. She replied matter-of-factly, “When you have two cuffs, Marisa, it’s like (holds her wrists in front of her face to form an X) it’s like…uh…hello…Wonder Woman! Duh!”

I knew at that very moment I was going to like Ava! Deep in my heart and soul exists a feeling that one cuff just doesn’t cut it. It’s not enough arm accessory to create a story or evoke conversation! Two cuffs are definitive! They make a clear statement! It’s, “I am woman, hear me roar!” And who wouldn’t want to transmit that to their style repertoire?!

The story behind Ava’s cuffs is unique and tell-tale. She used to own a pair of Guiseppe Zanotti shoes that were a staple in her wardrobe. She was attached to these babies. And, man, can I relate to that. To know Giuseppe Zanotti is to know you are getting two things: 1) a masterfully-crafted shoe and 2) plenty of high-end bling. Ava’s Guiseppes had two blinged-out phylum chordatas bestowed upon the straps–two fish-heads that were pieces of artwork to behold. So when the shoes went belly up, her mom took matters in to her own hands. She made a pair of cuffs out of the bejeweled bling and surprised Ava with them. Sex-in-the-city-worthy. Carrie couture for sure (although, Patricia Field has nothing on these)! Having been born and raised in New York City, herself, Ava’s mom knew exactly what she was doing! If only the cuffs could speak of their former spiritual life, they might say: “in our past life, we were a shoe!”

Ava’s fashion obsession came about by watching Bewitched when she was younger. To her, Samantha Evans’ style was polished and perfected. It encapsulated the girl-about-town. Endora was the bejeweled and beguiling mother who, even though she was older, showcased the funkier and more mysterious side of the 60s.  Both styles were appreciated by Ava, so it’s befitting that her favorite decade is none other than the 1960s. Her runner up decade would be the 1930s. Ava loves the bias-cut dresses and body-draping jewelry that was the antithesis of the decade that preceded it.

Ava grew up wanting more than what the mall stores, Contempo Casuals and Judy’s, had to offer (girl, I get you). She wanted to go where no other girl would go to find clothes–thrift stores and estate sales. The U.S.S Enterprise of the fashion world, it’s no wonder her friends called her a heat-seeking fashion missile. You could throw her in a room full of Goodwill rags, and she would unearth the one hidden treasure or gem that no one else recognized to be just that. Ah, a girl after my own heart!

So what is it that goads Ava’s heart? The same ol’, same ol’ Birken-Bag-toting-studded-Louboutin-clad celebrity. They are a dime a dozen. Nothing has changed in the aesthetic of Los Angeles style for years. Some designers keep putting out the same celebrity shit (cough, Hervé Léger). As long as the Kardashians are buying, everyone else is following suit. She doesn’t want to wear what the Kardashians are wearing (thank god)! Give Ava a Hermés Kelly Bag and some Roger Viviers to compliment her vintage dress, and she’s good to go.

Give Ava a copy of Vogue, and that’s another story!

Ava used to be a loyal subscriber to Vogue for as long as she can remember. She received all editions (French, British, German, etc.). When Anna Wintour decided to grace Kim Kardashian on the cover, Ava cancelled her subscription. What has become of the fashion world, when you put Kim on the cover? Is it about style? Or is it about celebrity, money, and the number of Twitter followers you garner? When money and social media dictates who is on the cover of magazines, the gig is up. Game over (cue the Pac-Man ending)!

Well, you might have guessed that Ava grew up in the greater Los Angeles area–Orange County to be exact. A sort of the stomping ground for stylists. But she came about her career quite by accident. Some of her friends had been modeling and asked for help with wardrobe. She lent her own unique clothes for their cause, of course. She began curating pieces for photo shoots, and it escalated into a full-time job as word got out. She ended up meeting her husband in her home town. He had been there for business. They embarked on a long-distance relationship for two years before getting married and settling down in Carmel, near the college where he works. They live in a quaint cottage near the beach where she has commenced a new journey.

Ava has retired her successful styling career for now. She has been promoted to the best job ever: mom and personal stylist to her son, Jack! She decided to open her closet to other vintage-minded fashionistas (like me) who will wear and appreciate some of her pieces as she has done in her life. She wants to focus on the practicality of motherhood (so, out with the over-the-knee YSLs and ostrich-feathered tunics) and cater to the needs of her son. No need for sympathy here, as she has spent many quality years with her wardrobe and has amazing memories to boot. Don’t get me wrong, we will never see Ava wearing “mom jeans” or “mom sweatshirts” anytime soon. No way. She is the epitome of a stunning and stylish mom. If I would hazard to guess, Ava will be ushering in a new generation of kick-ass moms as soon as Jack is old enough to walk! Mark my words, my friends!

If you are interested in anything from Ava’s amazing closet, please contact me. I will put you in touch with her! Please don’t miss out! She has some gems that are unlike anything I’ve seen in boutiques or online! One can only imagine!

Ava with bangs Ava with earrings



And Grows A Pair…

I used to be a complete pushover. I still am with kids and animals. My niece and nephew can ask me for anything and “poof” it’s theirs. Clothes, video games, and my undivided attention–you name it. My cat gets Fancy Feast, fresh salmon on Fridays, and all the treats she wants. I cave at the blink of a misty eye or insufferable “meow”. It’s just the way it is. Not a bad gig to be a kid or an animal in my life, right?

As a middle school teacher though, I cannot afford to be feeble. Teenagers will smell it like a predator smells fear on it’s prey. They’ll suss out the weak ones and move in for the jugular. And I’m quite fond of my jugular. So I’ve learned to be tough, but fair and flexible in the world of education. My classroom is best run like a benevolent dictatorship. We are one big happy Confucius family. I am the wiser because I know shit and they don’t. The caveat: I make history fun. As long as they’re laughing and smiling, we’re good.

Crafting one’s resilience is no easy task. It took the second coming of my provocation to grow a pair. A really BIG pair. Now I can’t stop speaking the truth. I just don’t care what people think anymore. I’m going to speak my mind! All I want is for people to be real and honest. Own their mistakes, but quit judging others for theirs. It’s none of their business. Nobody’s perfect. The world is not perfect. History shows that the world does not expect perfection of it’s inhabitants. It’s not possible.

Well, shit went down last summer! Death, taxes, and a knife to the heart. Benjamin Franklin was right, death and taxes ARE inevitable. I just didn’t see the knife to the heart coming, that’s all. I’m still lucky enough to use the 1040 EZ tax form, so don’t get me wrong, the IRS didn’t screw me. They can’t. Ironically, I don’t make enough Benjamins to screw!

Cancer screwed me–or should I say–screwed the ones I loved.

Cancer took my dad on tax day three years ago. The irony! Way to stick it to the man, Dad! It took my soul mate last summer on June 28th. A big screw you to cancer for taking the two men I adored. I lost my rock, my partner, my muse, my voice of reason, my home, my sanity, and my faith in the good will and kindness of two particular people that I no longer consider family. Goodbye, Felicia! It took me therapy; the unconditional love of my family, friends, and students; the support from my colleagues; and the amazing compassion from the Ford Motor Company for me to finally move on.

I started this blog only a few months ago (March of 2016) when I finally managed to crawl out of the big black hole that consumed me for 9 miserable months. Scotty wasn’t around to beam me up. Captain Kirk–MIA–probably off battling Klingons or sleeping with the enemy. No, I relied on my own gravitas and creativity to pull myself out of this shitty supernova.

Tapping in to my creativity, I began the healing process by sharing my love for fashion and vintage clothing through my writings. I’ve always had a knack for style since the ripe old age of two. My mother gave me complete autonomy to dress myself, if not–there was brimstone to pay! I also wanted a way to help empower other women to feel confident about their age, their bodies, and their stories in life. I’ve been doing this with teenagers for a long time, so I thought it was time for a platform for all women–especially women over 40. Every woman (and the men who admire us) should have the opportunity to dress according to how they feel. Our age, size, nor social stigmas should define what we wear. And it’s not up to others to decide for us. As a 49 year old woman who has battled tragedy, followed by depression, early menopause, and a mid-life crisis–I refuse to be put in a category and told what I should or should not do. Or what I should or should not wear. My style is unpredictable. I don’t follow trends. That’s just how I roll.

John (my life partner) wanted me to start this process a few years ago, but I always put it off. He begged to be the ubiquitous camera-wielding boyfriend behind my blog idea, but I didn’t think I was young or glamorous enough to carve a niche.

BUT, I have balls…

I have humor…

I have a perspective…

And a sense of style!

And my fucking balls got me to this point, dammit!

So, here I sit…sans my camera-wielding boyfriend. It’s just me, myself, my cat, my iPhone camera, and my determination! It’s a meager existence in the blogging world, but it’s what I got for now sistahs and bruthahs!

The one who wields the camera these days is either my twelve year old niece (that’s a roll of the dice as there’s only so much conjuring this puberty-whisperer can do), my sister (always ten pokers in the fire), my 80 year old mother (a Facebook dogmatist who can barely operate a garage door opener), a few of my fashion forward students (if I can pry them away from social media), and lately: my blue tooth camera clicker–which has become such a bizarrely relevant accessory in my Instagram posts that I’m going to give it it’s own hashtag account (like MR’s arm party). Something like this: #dumbassforgottohidetheclickerinherhand or #hidethefuckingclickerinyerhandyabigdufus!

One of the biggest lessons I learned from this unwilling “adventure” was how to be strong. My limits were tested. The summer of 2015, I grew a pair. A really BIG pair. Now I know what it’s like to be one tough Muthah Fuckah.

Now, the lady doth protest too much, methinks!

(This one’s for you, John!)