Monthly Archives

March 2016



Calling Kuwait….

I think it was Bette Midler who said, “I believe with the right footwear, one can rule the world.” She was definitely on to something. My sister told me that she and her daughter set the standard for their shoe obsession based on an experience I had with a pair of Stella McCartney stilettos.  I’m just going to tell it like it is:  I called a boutique in Kuwait to find a pair of Stella McCartney shoes I had been obsessing over.  These were no ordinary shoes though. They were the first of it’s couture kind: vegan friendly, faux patent perfection, and made by a Beatle’s daughter (a fashion rock star in her own rite).

In college I ate Top Ramen noodles for a solid month to save money to purchase a pair of YSL platforms that I definitely could not afford.  I delayed rent money (a.k.a Peter) in order to pay Neiman Marcus (a.k.a Paul).  You get my drift. So here I was, post 9/11.  The world was obsessed with Saddam and I was obsessed with Stella.  McCartney had just stepped out on her own after an amazing eight seasons with the house of Chloe.  She had me at “hello” with these shoes.  I was in deep. Real deep.

Before the fashion world hit the internet market, one had to cold call the stores to find what they wanted. If you were not a celebrity with a platinum credit card, you ranked low on the fashion food chain. It was not looking good for lil’  ol’ me.

Having sold out of all size 7.5’s in the entire continental United States, I turned my sights on Europe.  A hundred dollar phone bill later, I still didn’t have my Stella’s.  Now I was pissed, mixed with a little desperation. Last ditch effort: the Middle East. I had heard that women spent an exorbitant amount of money on shoes, so they were locked and loaded with all the latest boutiques. After several phone calls and a quick practice of “hello, do you speak English?” in modern Arabic, I found my shoes in Kuwait. You know, the lil’ ol’ country to the south of Iraq. The one that Saddam invaded. The irony!

For all I know, I have an FBI file because of these shoes.

Who the hell cares!

They’re Stella fucking McCartney, folks!

Stella Akbar!

Stella Pumps 4 Stella Pumps 3 Stella Pumps 2  Stella Pumps 9  Stella Pumps final Stella Pumps 7 Stella pumps final 2 Two Jumpsuits 7


Look of the Week

A Modenista’s Two Basic Needs: Caffeine and Couture….

Major Dickinson and I have been having an illustrious affair for over 25 years. I discovered him on the street corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley while I was vintage clothes shopping. He was dark, rich, and smelled aromatically divine. I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot live without him, but I’m pretty sure he can function without me. No matter, I’m still loyal. It takes Major Dick, as I like to call him, to get me up out of bed and my creative juices flowing. In fact, I concocted this entire post whilst consuming Major Dick on my way to work.

Hallelujah to Peet’s Coffee for breeding my love, Major Dickinson. A big shout-out to the Ethiopians for starting this wonderful thing called coffee. And let’s not forget the Columbians for putting Folgers on every shelf in middle America, including my parents’! I am shlump toast without it.

I used to travel 30 minutes out of my way to hit Peet’s before work. Los Gatos was the only Peet’s Coffee joint in the South Bay Area, so one can imagine how important it was to my daily life. In fact, the first twin tower in New York City was hit when I was on my way to Peet’s that morning. The second was hit when I reached my destination. I shared my thoughts and feelings, first and foremost, with my Peet’s comrades as the events unfolded and our emotions further bonded us beyond our weird coffee obsession.

My love affair with Major Dick led me to the dress pictured in this post! There was a small hole-in-the-wall store a few paces down from Peet’s Coffee in Berkeley. A Nan Kemper-ish woman, with two calico cats living in the store, used to sit elegantly in her tapestry chair, smoking a cigar and sipping Major Dick. Ah, the smell of cat piss and coffee in the morning. As much as I love Major Dick, I love a good Cuban as well. There is something about the aroma, grainy texture, and sweet taste a Cohiba leaves in one’s mouth–it’s a bizarre guilty pleasure.

I would try to engage this woman in conversation as she clenched her Cuban and perused the paper. She would ignore me and grunt every once in awhile. After visiting her store a dozen times, I would take those grunts as positive sign that she approved of my taste. Letting me walk away with a purchase was another story. Her store was a treasure trove of beautiful and awe-inspiring things. A virtual wasteland of her past, I imagined these things held the sultry secrets to her life. It’s no wonder she didn’t want to let go. I completely understand now where she was coming from, as I will inevitably be that woman one day. She let me walk away with one divine purchase: a chiffon dress with gold flowers weaved into the fabric. It reminds me of Oscar De La Renta (a man clearly worth writing about as his retrospective is storming the museums all over the world).

So I left this woman to her cigar and coffee and wandered out onto Vine street to discover more about what the day had to offer. Thank you, Major Dick, for leading me to this store…and to this dress! What would I do without you?!

The chiffon dress was purchased at the above mentioned store many years ago. I think the cigar lady has since passed because the shop no longer exists. Where her treasures went? I don’t know. Hopefully not into the abyss.

Dress: Risaroxx Vintage maxi dress; shoes: Risaroxx Vintage brocade bow slides; T-shirt is my own.

Lady Doth Protest 12 will work for coffee 3 will work for coffee 11 will work for coffee 10 will work for coffee 9 will work for coffee 6 will work for coffee 8



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!)


Look of the Week

A Song To The Sartorial Sirens….

They are the best of friends and never the worst of friends. My niece, Grace (left), and small faction of her elite geek squad, BFF…Emily (right), looking ever so fan-tab-u-lous! Ushering in a new generation of vintage enthusiasts, they are a far cry from Dickens’ Victorian England. They embody the future of the vintage fashion industry with their fresh and fun perspective on life. And life is one big festival right now!

Grace is my favorite person in the whole world! She is an old soul and wise beyond her years. She will inherit my vintage collection one day when I can’t walk in high heels and flats are out of season. I started her young when she was in diapers. She used to pull hats out of my closet and pose in the mirror with her buddy, Elmo, dangling by her side. One day she came swaggering out of my room with a marabou jacket hanging to her ankles and bangles piled high on her chubby arms. She sucked fervently on her binky before uncorking…..and with a quixotic expression…claimed, “Dis look good on Gacey!” I knew from that moment on, my empire was in good hands.Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

Most of these looks were curated from my own private collection. When I travel, I suss out the vintage clothing boutiques and local flea markets. My go to place for vintage online is Etsy! It’s my home away from home. I think I have part-ownership in this site by now!

On Grace: Risaroxx Vintage 70s embroidered silk maxi dress; Adidas self-designed sneakers. On Emily: Risaroxx Vintage 60s silk dress; Converse sneakers.


On Grace: Risaroxx Vintage 70s black and white chiffon dress. On Emily: Risaroxx Vintage embellished Malcolm Starr dress.


On Grace: Risaroxx Vintage disco-era slinky jersey dress with marabou trim (So Grace Jones!); Sam Edelman slides. On Emily: Risaroxx Vintage 70s ethnic beaded maxi dress. Risaroxx Vintage jewel-encrusted Oscar De La Renta slides.




Look of the Week

Taking The Streets In The Ubiquitous Jumpsuit…

Ahhh, the jumpsuit! Not quite a pair of pants, not quite a shirt. Convenient and cute. One has to be careful with vintage jumpsuits, though. Two words: camel toe. Ouch! Not a good look for the fashionistas, right? We don’t have the feathered hair and perky bra-less tits to take our attention away from the cavernous split in our crotch. Gawd knows why we put up with it years ago. Doctors must have had the market cornered on yeast infections! Let’s not forget about the lack of “breathable” natural fiber underwear available during the jumpsuit heyday. What we put up with for fashion! And don’t get me started on men’s ultra tight high-waisted denim that forced them to do “the side penis part”. Look at Gregg Rolie on Journey’s Infinity album, and you’ll see what I mean. But, I digress.

Remember the denim jumpsuit made famous by J.Lo in the late 90s? It was stylish, unique, and had that vintage flair. I was smitten. It had my name written all over it. If my ass could look as good as J.Lo’s, then I was all in.

Excited for a test drive, I sauntered into a local boutique to try on the “sleeveless” variety. Thinking that camel toe was a thing of the past, I eagerly thrust my torso and arms into the right holes. I stood up straight, and KABLAM! Camel toe! The Moses of all jumpsuits had parted my red sea (yes, I am a true redhead)! Ugh! My lips be damned to purgatory if I didn’t get this thing off me! I couldn’t reach the armholes because it was too tight, and I had no “sleeve” fabric to pull on. I panicked. I tried to use the force of gravity to shimmy out of it. I jumped up and down and shook my body like I was the queen of the Harlem shake.

I ripped the garment from crotch to crack. Shit! What do I do? The score: jumpsuit….one….me….zero. I tried to get the hook in the dressing room to latch on to the back neckline. I figured the geometric shape and the force of my pull would bring it right down. Rip! Another point for the jumpsuit. Feeling defeated, I poked my flushed face out of the dressing room, and I’ll be goddamned if the saleswoman didn’t say, “Are you stuck?” Suh-weet mother of Gawd, this has happened to someone else. WTF? Why didn’t she warn me?

Needless to say, I went home sans J.Lo’s jumpsuit. I had lost two pounds and my dignity. Who loses to a fucking jumpsuit?

On me: Risaroxx Vintage jumpsuit; sneakers: Adidas; Risaroxx Vintage Mary Frances cassette purse.

New Jumpsuit 1 New Jumpuit 2

Hip Hop Jumpsuit 9 Hip Hop Jumpsuit 12
Hip Hop Jumpsuit 17
Hip Hop Jumpsuit 5 Hip Hop Jumpsuit 15
Hip Hop Jumpsuit 6 Hip Hop Jumpsuit 7

Hip Hop Jumpsuit 13

Hip Hop Jumpsuit Star Pendant Hip Hop Jumpsuit Purse


The Vintage Gospels

And SHE Said, “LET THERE BE FASHION!” And There Was Fashion

1:1 The Gospel According to Carrie:  I like my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet.

Buying couture is an investment.  Just like buying art.  Over time, those runway pieces will be a staple in your vintage collection.  You can wear it every once in awhile and pass it down to your daughter or niece.  Carrie Bradshaw complained that she might as well be, “The woman who actually lived in her shoes” because she had procured so many Manolos and Jimmys instead of a retirement plan. These days, one can re-sell their couture online for a pretty reasonable price. Reincarnate to the vintage gods so you can re-stock your closet. There is always someone out there who is still obsessing (like me) over what they didn’t buy years ago. Let your closet be your 401K.


1:2 The Gospel According to Coco:  Elegance is refusal.

Refusing to dress like everyone else is the epitome of confidence and individuality. Coco Chanel paved her own road to style with her risky pantsuits. Her eponymous line defied the laws of style. Don’t let one trend or style define you. Mix the funky with the classic and the old with the new. My favorite is a stained pair of boyfriend jeans (literally, your man’s) with a punk t-shirt (Sex Pistols will do), white converse high tops, and a Chanel tweed jacket. The pièce de résistance: a classic pearl necklace. I have my mother’s white and black varieties from Japan. Chanel had a jewelry box full of them. Take risks and refuse to be part of the norm.


1:3 The Gospel According to Karl:  Black and white always looks modern, whatever that word means.

The term, “modern” is subjective. You can never go wrong with a classic black and white outfit as Lagerfeld states. But NEVER wear a vintage decade from head to toe (well, there are exceptions), unless you are actually going to a costume party. Let the vintage piece be your conversation. Mix modern with vintage, and you have something unusual. Stick with black and white, and you will always get it right!


1:4 The Gospel According to Alexis:  I love that outfit! I’m amazed that it lasted so many seasons!

We all know that Alexis Carrington (played brilliantly by Joan Collins) was one bad-ass bitch, right? Little did she know that the “outfit” would come back in ten to twenty years…with a vengeance. Okay, Alexis, we hear you. But vintage aficionados will shop your discarded items and wear them with pride. We have no shame. The outfit, Alexis, HAS lasted so many seasons. It’s called vintage, babe!


The Vintage Version

Gaga For Gucci: A Fashionista’s Guide to the Vintage Version…

Carrie Bradshaw famously quipped, “I like to see my money right where I can see it…hanging in my closet” (see vintage gospels). Well, get ready to make a deposit to your closet! Investing in any piece from Gucci’s spring/summer 2016 line is a win-win for any seasoned mode-nista.

Every time the spring and fall fashion shows hit the runway, I shift into high obsessive gear. I spend hours upon hours trawling the internet for the vintage couture counterparts. I started using Ebay once upon a time, but I didn’t like the anxiety that came with the territory. Losing a bid to some two-bit “joey” just didn’t sit well with me. I was losing sleep over this shitty system. Who thought of this? It doesn’t work for fashion neurotics like me (I sound like Veruca Salt..daddy I want it now)! Then a friend told me about Etsy. The fashion gods answered my prayers. This site strictly supports new artists and vintage aficionados alike. It’s instant gratification with one click of a button. Easy to buy. Easy to sell. No bidding. No bull.

Here are my top must haves and their vintage “fraternal” doppelgangers.

First Pic: Risaroxx Vintage Moschino embroidered suit.

Gucci Embroidered Etsy

Second Pic: Risaroxx Vintage chiffon striped maxi dress.

 Gucci Red Chiffon Etsy

Third Pic: Risaroxx Vintage blue midi-dress with Van Gogh tie.

Gucci Blue Etsy

 Gucci-fy 13 Gucci-fy 2 Gucci-fy 4 Gucci-fy 10 Gucci-fy 7 Gucci-fy 3 Gucci-fy 5  Gucci-fy 15Gucci-fy 11  Guccify 100  Guccify 64 Guccify 60 (1) Guccify 67 Guccify 68 Guccify 75  Guccify 76 Guccify 72 Guccify 45 Guccify 49 Guccify 53 Guccify 54 Guccify 52 Guccify 50 Guccify 42 Guccify 41 Guccify 40


Look of the Week

Throwing The Gaunlet Down at the Fashion World….

Punk rock empresario and London Sex Shop goddess, Dame Vivienne Westwood has long been a hero of mine. The famous “Anarchy in the U.K.” shirt (among other things) will forever be ingrained in my pre-pubescent brain. When my mom took my siblings and me to London in the late 70s, I was twelve going on thirteen and had long been suffering from too much disco in my life. I couldn’t stomach the sequins and polyester anymore. I needed a new fashion fix. Enter punk rock.

Vivienne started her career by throwing the proverbial middle finger to the peace and love culture with her provocative style and fuck you sensibility. Unbeknownst to me, she had been doing this for years. What was a pre-pubescent teen to do in this kind of predicament? Jump the fuck in, of course! Goodbye Studio 54.

Not surprisingly, my imperturbable mom forbade me to walk into the Kings Road shop, now appropriately named Seditionaries. And she had good reason: a t-shirt with an image of two mens’ non-flaccid wankers reaching out like God and Adam’s erect fingers on the Sistine Chapel dazzled the storefront window. It lured me in like a fat kid to the cake buffet. This was not the impression my mom wanted her twelve year old daughter to take away from her London vacation. But this was all part of my plan to have the world instruct me in all matters pertaining to my sex education. A baptism of fire, if you will. Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Ziggy Stardust and my dad’s not-so-secret stash of Penthouse magazines were all part of the village that taught me a thing or two about voyeurism and sex. So, I wasn’t shocked, I was intrigued.

Westwood, with her colorful partner, Malcolm McClaren, had thrown the gauntlet down to the fashion industry yet again. This time, disco was bitch-slapped with their wittingly and politically charged creations of ripped and stained tee shirts.  Worn by punk rock pariahs and scorned by the established few, they cornered the market on confrontation and defiance.

This spoke volumes to my middle-class American upbringing. Coincidentally, while we were visiting, the establishment-backed BBC had refused any airplay time to McClaren’s band, The Sex Pistols. Their insubordinate antics were too risky for the conservative kind. This just added fuel to the fire of their counter-culture following.

By the end of my London vacation, the peak of punk rock reached it’s climax; my undying admiration for Westwood as my goddess and guru took a leap of faith; and the beginning of my two year courtship with provocation took hold! Sorry Mom, but you had no chance!

For a mere $38,000 (and I do mean mere because it’s a steal in my opinion), you can own a part of fashion history. Dame Vivienne’s, Sex Shop Venus Shirt, is being offered on It’s a genius piece of iconic art.

Fashion is art! And art always appreciates! So this, my friends, is priceless!

Vivienne 3 Vivienne 1 Vivienne 4 Vivienne 5 Vivienne Buttons Vivienne Toe Shoes


About Blog

These Boots Were Made For Balkin’….

In all their vintage glory and grandeur, these Tony Lamas garnered a lot of attention in my valley girl world. Not everyone appreciated them at first, but I was never one to mire in the mundane. I wanted to kick up my fashionable world a notch. Up a notch, I did! I knew it was a risk, but I didn’t care how others perceived me. If I learned anything from my idols, David Bowie and Vivienne Westwood, one’s persona was everything.

Clothing was a way to express myself as an individual. It was a way to define myself as anything, but normal. As expected…the neon-clad, acid wash in-crowd gave me the once over and commenced with their Zappa quips: “Like, oh my god! As if!” And get ready for it…”gag me with a spoon!” Bring it on, bitches! These skeptics were not ready for my badass boots!

In due time, I won my peers over with my quirky style and no-nonsense approach to vintage clothing. I was voted best dressed my senior year. Quite frankly, I was shocked. I didn’t think my style was for everyone, especially those who took notice.  Who the hell was I kidding? I was up against the Bloomingdales bred homecoming queen and her Contempo Casuals court. But alas, the votes spoke the truth. I had style. Go figure!

For all intents and purposes, my bags were packed and ready to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City right after high school. I had grand plans of studying the art of fashion in the city that never sleeps. I dreamed of stealing away most nights with my imaginary musician boyfriend at CBGB, hopefully catching a glimpse of Debra Harry, Patti Smith or Iggy Pop. If I was truly lucky–witnessing David Bowie ordering the ushe at the Smelly (aka Carnegie) Deli in mid-town Manhattan. A girl can dream, right?

Well, my mom had other plans for her 17 year old dreamer: a four year stint at a UC college. One closer to home. One they could realistically afford. One that was, according to her, grounded in “reality” (what?). They wanted a well-rounded education for me. An education that was not steeped in just the fashion world. Well, la-dee-fucking-da!

So off to the agricultural collegiate capital I went: University of California at Davis (go Aggies)! Don’t ask me why! I think my mom bribed me somehow. I didn’t go happily, but I found my creative niche regardless. I discovered they had an admirable art and design program, nonetheless.

I studied English, design, and art at UC Davis. I learned about the importance of color and print from Wayne Thiebaud, how to sculpt a multitude of mediums (including trash) from Lucy Puls, how to design and execute a centerpiece shrine out of pretzels and Cheez-Its from Dolph Gotelli, how to regurgitate Beowulf and other Norse texts without frustration (ugh!) from Marijane Osborn, and how to operate and control a John Deere tractor without maiming any jackrabbits from “insert-hick-name-here”.  I came out with a BA in English, a double minor in design and history, and a BS in…well…procrastination! Much to my parent’s chagrin, I followed the 7 year plan. But at the very least, one can say, I received a well-rounded education! My college experience gave me grit. It’s where my creative roots took hold, and I mastered my black belt in sarcasm and wit.

I went on to become a middle school history teacher (curve ball, right?), yet I am still able to maintain my sense of style and divine right to wear what makes me feel good in the workplace and community.

So here are the boots that started it all….

Hat and Boots Hat and Boots 5  Hat and Boots 4  Hat and Boots 3 Boots Psychedelic Boots 2 Psychedelic Boots 3  Psychedelic Boots 5 Psychedelic Boots 6 Psychedelic Boots and Star