Category Archives: My Stories

Accept Yourself

         I LOVE uniforms. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It’s why the main character of my art wears uniforms so much.

"Oaxacan Protection", graphite and ink on paper, 9" x 12", Laura E. Alvarez, 2015

“Oaxacan Protection”, graphite and ink on paper, 9″ x 12″, Laura E. Alvarez, 2015

And as I’ve also said before, maybe if I was mandated to wear one, I wouldn’t be so obsessed. I’ve always enjoyed my fashion freedom, and if there was the slightest hint at a dress code, I was going to break it. See three month “Artist Residency at Starbucks” in the early to mid nineties recession of my youth. Or, when the director of a school was going over the teacher dress code (“professional” was the code) with the faculty, then gave me a pass when she looked at the creative patches on my jeans and said, “Well, you’re going to ruin your clothes (with paint, etc.) anyway.”

So, because I don’t know what it’s like to be forced to conform, it’s easy to have fun with uniforms. Forest green  modern shirt dress? I’m the den mother of young conceptual campers. White version with flower embroidery? I’m a lab technician in tropical Mex. Hawaiian print jump suit? I fix rusty Plymouths in Havana.

But I never thought I literally had a “uniform”. You know how some people have their self-imposed go-to outfit? They own it a lot times, too. They say, “Yeah, you know me. I’ve got my uniform. Black jeans, black sweater. Black shoes. Don’t have to think about it.”

You’d be surprised at how many people in the fashion and costume industry self-impose uniforms. Or maybe you wouldn’t be. After all, you are reading a FASHION BLOG. But, just in case you got here by accident because you googled “crossing guard uniforms” then I will elaborate. Make up artists wear mechanic jumpsuits. Fashion designers find a simple composition and stick with it – maybe so they can concentrate on creating outside of themselves. Even fashion magazine editors do this, and I get it. It’s one less thing to think about. These are people that choose the uniform because it compliments their highly productive mode. It simplifies things.

But then there’s the uniform as the sign of depression. This, I’m scared of. You know, “I’m wearing pajamas everyday because essentially, I have given up.” Or, “Sad, olive green t shirt, ill fitting jeans, and running shoes? Yeah, I’ve given up too.” With the last one picture no eye contact, while person continues programing user interface two blocks from the ocean with no windows. Or the workout suit that never comes off. “What? I’m just coming from spinning!”

No, we can’t give up.

So, no uniform for me. No sir. I pride myself on being unpredictable. Well, of course I am somewhat predictable – how late I like to sleep (definitely after 10 if I have my say), where I deem is appropriate to consume a cappuccino (Caffe Luxxe, not Starbucks), or how often The Smiths are on my playlist (I need a good Smiths/Morrissey fest at least once a month. By the way, that is a Smith song as the title of this post!). But when it comes to dressing, if I wear jeans two days in a row, it’s a bad sign. You know, maybe one day it was the perfect item to wear with a great lace top and silver shoes, then the next day I am cleaning out moldy things in the back yard so there’s really no other choice. But, it still makes me a little sad. Because mixing it up and being creative with my outfits really gives me a lift everyday.

So, imagine my surprise when one day, THIS happened…

I was teaching at a school. I saw a mom – a personal stylist, no less –  who was dropping off her children in the morning. She wore a cream colored sweater, a plaid, wool, orange and brown skirt, tights, and lovely brown boots. After I complimented her outfit, she said to me, “Thanks. Oh, I’m doing you today.”

Wait. Hold on right there. She said, “doing you”?? Doing me? A person can do me? That means I’m predictable! And I loved her outfit. I complimented it. Of course, she expected me to because she was “doing me”. This kind of freaked me out. It freaked me out because like I said, I prided myself on being unpredictable, on always mixing it up, and it turns out, I, like all these other people, had a UNIFORM.

My uniform. Three things. Sweater. Boots. Tights. Skirt. Not in that order.

My uniform – Three things: Sweater. Boots. Tights. Skirt. Not in that order.

I just couldn’t believe this uniform had been happening all this time under my very nose. Yes, on MY body without me even noticing. I mean, what kind of disconnect was that? Didn’t I own a full length mirror? I was upset by this experience. And then when I thought about it more over time, I realized that the signs were always there. I even remembered saying some things that were clues. It was like I had green paint on my cheek and nobody told me. I had to find out for myself in the wall to wall carpeted reception area of a busy rainy morning of elementary school drop off. In front of EVERYONE.

So, to process my acceptance of my uniform – which I noticed I was wearing on the above photographed rainy day – I thought I would break the uniform down into parts… Because, obviously this is A REALLY IMPORTANT ISSUE.

Let’s start with the sweaters. I can now admit that I have always had a huge amount of sweaters. However, I do look at them from time to time and say, “Oh my goodness. This is terrible. I have like, NO sweaters.” I seriously do that. That means I can never have enough sweaters. It is like when I asked my younger son when he was a wee lad, “Wait, a second. I was just wondering… If you could get a new stuffed animal every day, would you?” I think you know what the answer was. No, it was a good conversation because it was after that that I knew it was A HOLE THAT COULD NEVER BE FILLED. Oh, my god; it’s like sweaters are an addiction. No. I don’t have a problem BECAUSE I CAN’T FIT ANY MORE SWEATERS INTO MY SWEATER DRAWER. That’s the only thing stopping me.

Let’s not separate the sweaters from the skirts. Sweaters love skirts in my world going back to me wanting to be a 1940’s cheerleader when I was 14, wanting to dress like Midge in 1958 Vertigo, AND always having adored those school uniforms I didn’t have to wear. In some ways sweaters and skirts together created the image of a romantic feminist. Does that make ANY sense? I mean, it somehow was what to wear if you were kind of conservative in dress because you wanted people to pay attention to your brain, yet you were still prone to riding your bike to write poetry under a tree. See? It’s comfortable, cute, and kind of ready for action. Action, like saving-the-world-action, I mean. Or at least adventure-action.

Which brings me to the boots. That’s where I know the signs were there. I mean, it was even in my original Facebook profile — something about “never having enough boots”. I’m not a big shoe person — one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals, one pair of sparkly shoes. But the boots? Yeah, right now there are at least five pairs of boots in my closet. And with that said, that is like, so not enough boots. If I could afford more boots you bet there would be way more boots in my life.  I can say right now — no, you better sit down for this — I don’t own one pair of cowboy boots. Yes, I do have a New Mexico Pinterest board and still no cowboy boots to speak of. (I do have a pair of custom made moccasins however. Whew!) And there is not one pair of Doc Marten boots in there. And I call myself an Anglophile? Not one pair of Docs? That is tragic. I would also take a pair of some kind of Inuit boot. LOVE me a good Inuit boot. A Victorian pair? Right this way, please. Size 7.5. Thank you. And yes, I would also take some rain boots. I’m not kidding. I find them so adorable. I’m not sure why, but if I had some I would wear them tomorrow rain or shine.

I adore almost all kinds of boots. I think I could have a blog just about boots. I just feel so powerful in them. That must be it. I could ride a horse, construct a house, hike a trail, save the world like Nausicaa, splash through a puddle. I mean the possibilities are endless. This paragraph is still about boots, but I made it a new paragraph because the boot paragraph was getting too long.

So, eventually I decided to embrace this uniform. Sure, I don’t go there everyday, but when I do, it feels so good. I feel so solidly me, if that makes any sense. See, with all this going on now I get why. And that makes it even better.

Do you have a uniform? What’s it all about? Why do you like it so much? Please tell us. Please.

Shrunken sweater from Costco by Calvin Klein that used to be Evan’s (and it is my FAVORITE SWEATER). Skirt by Banana Republic circa 2005. Boots by Teva. Hair cut by Scott.

All photos by Evan Hartzell.

How to Make and Use Fashion Spirit Cards



The card I chose with what was written on the back.

The card I chose with what was written on the back.

My FSC's.

My FSC’s.

Okay, I’m telling you what to do again. But, why should you have to suffer if I’ve learned something that can help you? Oh, the reasoning of a Leo!

Three words:  Fashion. Spirit. Cards.

Now, I’ve done my homework, and all the fashion tarot  or fashion oracle cards I am seeing out there function as traditional tarot cards with a fashion theme. My version – which I am calling spirit cards actually tell you what to wear.

We need this. Obviously. I mean, if someone like me who spends an unusual amount of time looking at and thinking about style, has moments where I don’t know what to wear, just think about what it’s like for people who don’t. You know who you are, surgeons, administrators, people with three jobs, and parents of more than two children!

And the best part? You can easily use things you have lying around to make your own! Now, I’m going to explain how to make and use your own cards, using my three outfits above as examples. These were all based on the Georgia Okeeffe art card I drew one particular day.

How to Make and Use Your Own Fashion Spirit Deck of Cards

  1.  Make/Select Your Images  My FSC’s were put together by grabbing a bunch of my favorite postcards I had stacked near my closet. Some were sent to me, others I collected. You can do the same, or you can collect a bunch of images from old calendars, magazines, or print them off Pinterest. The point is that your cards have variety. For example, they can be very literal and represent sporty you, bohemian you, classic you, etc. or you can choose images like your favorite artworks or landscape photos that leave it more open to how you want to interpret the card. I prefer this last idea because I love the freedom and possibilities inherent in interpretation.  Try to have a selection of at least ten cards.
  2. Will This Card Inspire Your Day or Your Whole Week?  Good question, right? I tried fashion spirit cards on a day when I needed to pack a few days worth of outfits. So, you can use it for a day or a week or it can be a good tool when you are packing for a trip and want all the outfits to kind of go together or at least share accessories with each other.
  3. Draw a Card  Without looking, take a deep breath, and really concentrate on using your indigo chakra – yes, I said chakra. Ask yourself a question such as “Who am I on this day?” or “What do I need today?” or “What message do I want to put out there today?” It’s up to you. Clothing choice is totally spiritual. Don’t disagree; just go with it for now. Look at your card, accept it, have fun with it. If you are looking for direction in your wardrobe, now you have it.
  4. What Qualities Does that Card Represent for You?  I chose a Georgia O’keeffe card from, like I said, a stack of my favorite postcards. If your cards include more open-ended images like this, think about what the image you chose represents for you. For me, Georgia represents elegance, determination, independence, earthiness, and a connection between sight and sound. Images abound of Georgia in the 30’s through the mid 80’s and she is always dressed in a way that exudes confidence, strength, and femininity at the same time. With the Victorian like lace top I was trying to hark back to her early days where she had to assert her own voice in a culture that was not used to the idea of a happening female artist. I can imagine her taking a feminine top like that and doing something unexpected with it, like pairing it with dark jeans and silver manly shoes.
  5. Does this Card Inspire a Color Palette? If you are a color obsessed person like me, then let color by your guide. With the last outfit, the warm hues of the southwest landscape where Georgia spent most of her life definitely dictated which shirt I chose, whereas the black and white dress reminded me of her days in NYC where she starred in Steiglitz’ black and white photography. So, you might take direct inspiration by looking at the colors on the card or go deeper by making other associations. Lastly, remember that every color palette expresses emotion. Maybe the emotion you are expressing is how you feel or maybe it is how you want to feel.
  6. Power/Capabilites Are we talking Pokemon cards now? Not quite, but zero in on what you are capable of in an outfit inspired by this card. With the bottom outfit, I am definitely capable of hiking that gorgeous desert landscape with ease. Long sleeve shirts protect my arms from the sun. On the other hand, in the top outfit, I wear a dress in which I can conquer any art opening in New York City with charisma and grace.
  7. Look for Shapes In 2000, Molly Bang came out with a book called, Picture This: How Pictures Work. My children’s very artistic kindergarten teacher used this book to teach children about the power of shapes and colors in telling a story. Take a moment to study the card you drew and see how the shapes might dictate your outfit. Jagged lines in a print or pointy lapels in a jacket might express precision. Soft shapes might express dreaminess. See how fun this can be?

And with bringing it back to FUN, I remind you to not take yourself and your outfit too seriously. Try something new, experiment, think playfulness. If you are not in a position where you feel like you can take big risks with your outfit, start by taking small ones, or take them on the weekend. If you do try this, be sure to share in the comments. We’d all love to hear how it went for you. It would be so… encouraging.

Again, try something new… Fashion Spirit Cards!

Top outfit: Boots by Teva, dress by Hale Bob – similar here, rebozo worn as scarf from La Tienda at the Mexican Museum, San Francisco – similar here jacket is thrift store find, necklace from Taxco – similar here, Mexico, bag by Escama Studio.

Second from top outfit:  lace top by Marc for Marc Jacobs, jeans by Levi’s, shoes are thrift store find.

Bottom outfit:  Shirt by Patagonia, tank by American Apparel, jeans by Levi’s, jewelry vintage.

Top two outfits photographed by Evan Hartzell. Bottom outfit photographed by Aristotle Hartzell

I Have Ideas for You


       IMG_8653 IMG_8651

I knew a Leo who went to a famous psychic, and the psychic said, “Everyone should listen to you. You know what’s best for them.” Of course, I was tempted to pretend that he was talking to me as well. Here is what I would like to tell pretty much everyone to do:

Get yourself a New Moon Journal and write about what you would like to accomplish in the coming month. Friday, May 6th is the next new moon. Write down your goals, your dreams for the general future, and whatever you would like to happen for yourself. I started doing this over a year ago. Sometimes I think it doesn’t work, but then I will look back, and I am amazed at how many things have happened. Thanks to Maureen, for giving me this gift of an idea.

Dress for your day. My friend, Holly helped me come up with that one, and she has been a supreme inspiration to me in fashion. Now, the Writer’s Wardrobe is a Pinterest board I share with Maureen that is the embodiment of this idea. While she is in the North and I am in the South, we did used to live together in college. One of the ways we stay in touch is through this board. I started it and added her as a “pinner” because I am a bossy Leo. The bossiness of this board is the true inspiration for the theme of this post. Oh my goddess, I love to tell people what to do. I told Maureen she had to start dressing for her day. I was the girl who used to get dressed up to clean the house. I mean, I Love Lucy was one of my favorite shows. Need I say more? When I was taking a year to write the script I am basing my graphic novel on, I had a strict cafe schedule. I had a lot of fun dressing for that beautiful sacred space of time and focus. Oooh, I really did. Now I dress for the studio where I make the images for the graphic novel. That’s Artist Wear. I do wear an apron, if you were wondering.

Look at beautiful Korean coffee houses. And then, try to find one that reminds you of beautiful Korean coffee houses (like Milk and Honey) and hang out there every once in a while. Okay, this last one is silly, but it goes along with the others in a way. What unifies my Leo commands is gosh darn it, bring more magic and sprinkle it everywhere. Be a real human. Look for beauty. I do my taxes with the best chai latte in town. I don’t believe in work. Ha. I try to make everything as enjoyable as possible. My car is a karaoke machine. Only ten minutes of pushing with the second baby, and I said, “I feel like I’ve been ripped off.” I dance while I cook. I invent games when doing something repetitive. I get this from my dad who loves arranging all the tools and discussing the different ways in which he might fix the door as much as (or more than) getting it fixed. It might be weird but it’s how I’m wired. There. Don’t I sound less bossy now?  

Oh yeah, also played a k-blamo show at Milk and Honey. Here’s a link to the song.

Blouse by Levi’s. Skirt and jacket by Maddie M. Shoes by Steve Madden. Necklace by Aristotle. Photos by Evan Hartzell.

Giving Voice

          Drawing all the energy to the throat chakra; that’s what a lot of my outfits are about lately, and I don’t mind saying it. It’s the area I’ve been working on – the voice. So, the mad mix of styles encourages me to use my voice whether it is through performance, visual art, fashion, or writing.  Fashion is healing, I heard years ago, but I didn’t really believe it. The Greeks are helping me understand (as well as artists like Copious!), and I am learning that there are many cultures all over the world now and in the past who understood the power of wearing your spirit on the outside.

Tibetan chupa (men’s long coat) has patterns reflecting spiritual beliefs of that village. Khadas, (ceremonial scarves) when worn have a color chosen for one of the five elements.

I also enjoy carrying with me the history of each piece. On my ears are a trip to Taxco, the once silver mining town in Mexico. I think of how much fun my mom and I had choosing jewelry. Around my neck is a gift from my mom-in-law. It so reflects her style and how she loved traveling to southeastern Asia. The pin on my lapel is my preteen obsession with everything from the 40’s. That also accounts for my picking up the vintage boy’s western shirt. My denim trench coat was given to me by a stylish friend and still has her old Louvre tickets in a pocket. We are sure she was French in another life. I carry what gives me strength and it’s from this strength that I use my voice.

Vintage blouse, jacket, jewelry. Skirt by Matty M. Boots by Hanna Anderson. Purse by Escama Studio. Photos of me by Evan Hartzell

Grown Up (Over 40 Everything)







This post was about an exhibition, but the exhibition – which was phenomenal – is long gone now.  Today, looking at these photos I remember how I had recently attained this new haircut when we went to the Turner show. I remember how hard it was to commit to the cut I long wanted because I was afraid the style was too young. Would I pull it off with my white hair? Would I look silly? Was it okay for a mid forties mom to have this haircut? And most importantly did I even know what a mid forties woman was supposed to look like?

The question of what it means to be a grown up in “Hollywood” is something I’ve been pondering since 1997 when I wrote an article about it for Artweek. Back then, in my mid twenties I observed how both the three year olds and mothers on the west side of Los Angeles dressed like they were in The Spice Girls. It wasn’t just about women; people across all genders and ages seemed to be under the hypnotic power of  “adolescent LA” which I linked to the film industry’s obsession with teenagers.

Since the 50’s, when the teenager was invented here in the U.S. for marketing reasons, it’s playground headquarters have been Los Angeles. The campaign may have started by targeting these youths, but it ended up creating a whole population of wanna-be teens at almost every age – especially on the west side of LA. As the American Dream’s price tag rose, the pressures of being an adult attaining this dream rose. So why not be a teenager forever  – or at least dress and act like one?

I talk to women friends all the time who are trying to figure out how to dress like a grown up. They, like me, want to express elegance, femininity, strength, and unique style – all, while being happy with their age.

So, where do we find inspiration? When women complain about getting older I say, “Oh, just be French!” Catherine Deneuve, anyone? In the UK, the over forty fashion blogger scene even has their own conference! However, now you can find style direction in your very own country. Look up “Advanced Style” and you will find how the mature lady’s style is coming into the spotlight and giving us some inspiration. These women and men are on fire. They accept themselves and see everyday as an opportunity to live life as art… And that is good to do at any age.

First outfit:  Pants by Pamela Barish. MIT rain jacket by MIT. Rose necklace by Mingle. Shoes by Tsubo. Haircut by Scott at Don’s Cutting Edge. Photos by Evan Hartzell.

Second outfit: Marc by Marc Jacobs Dress. Photos by Aristotle Hartzell. 

Glistening With Style and Only Nine Seconds Long








Dress by Mayle, coat, boots, belt, earrings vintage.

Living in L.A. for so long, a So Cal native, I am super used to the way we wake up and collaborate on a sunny weekend at the drop of a hat. Sure, it’s a sprawl of a “city”, so it can seem like it’s hard to connect with creative and interesting people, but once you jump into the currents of a community’s moving ocean waters, you find that, happily, you can’t avoid them. My friend, Jodi recently shared this article, that talks about this “ready to collaborate attitude” that we are all so used to. She is intuitive and calls me at just the right moment when yes, I can run over and make a fashion graphic with you, throwing handmade papers, wabisabi jean bags, and who knows what else on to her bed, narrowly missing her fluffy cat who is hiding in a paper bag. But on the day pictured above, we were spontaneously shooting a little video for the company Jodi works for. No problem; I LOVE talking about clothes. Luckily, my love is skilled with the iphone video shooting and directing. He’s up for the fun of creating something glistening with style and only nine seconds long.

But what is the CLOTHES Story here? Buttons and trimming. I love the assignment. Jodi brings over a couple of gems first pictured above. Chanel buttons. Miu miu buttons. All vintage pieces with history of course. Seeing these, I get inspired to bring out my mom’s wool coat with “very serious career lady in NY” buttons. A Mayle dress from another friend’s closet has exquisite, “Paris art nouveau buttons”. My buttons were clearly bonded on the Concord in another life. They are the details that catch my eye. Lucky for me, whenever a piece of clothing was truly falling apart, my mom would save the buttons in a special jar. There was history there, and one or several of these buttons would pop back up on a sewing project in 1986, having waited there since 1969. It’s the kind of experience that makes me hold a nice suit coat in a thrift store, and think, “Nice, but could be even nicer if I switch those buttons out for abalone… or maybe walnut.” 

Portal to Barcelona






Looking at these photos a few days ago, I had several ideas as to what the Clothes Story is. Gluten and sugar free experimenting? Reminds me of my obsession with this Spaniard’s Pinterest board about his favorite shops and cafes? There are still artists living in Venice? (Great interview with the artist, Diana Garcia, who did the wheat pasted mural here. Check out more of her art here.) My favorite food on Abbott Kinney? Dressing for texture? Can we take a vote, here?

Okay, I’ve tallied up the votes and the winner is… Barcelona!

Wait, Barcelona wasn’t even on the list. How did that happen? 

Well, I did have the word, Spaniard on the list, so…

Yeah, but a Spaniard-made Pinterest board is very different from the city of Barcelona. I want to see the math. Who voted, anyhow?

Who am I talking to, by the way?  Hello?  Hello? Oh, I hate it when that happens. A perfectly nice inner dialogue disconnected because I asked too many questions. Again.

So… Barcelona. The city with the same Mediterranean climate as Southern California. Home of a Picasso museum and Gaudi sculptures and La Familia Sagrada. Where they speak Catalonian by the sea side and sip a cortado.  I have clearly dressed to go back to Barcelona, where I am clearly from… okay, maybe in another life. But this post is really about something deeper – acceptance.

As a Los Angeles-based artist, I have made my peace with identity and belonging. It took years, but these delicate processes always take longer in a city where there is increasingly more and more traffic, no? Growing up in the O.C., of course I wanted to fit in, but I was still wacky (insert crazy outfit here) and proud of my Mexican roots. I learned pretty quick that I was never going to look like the Miss OP Pro or whatever that was. The splits didn’t work out for drill team try outs (It was all about the outfit, and luckily I made the cut to wear a kilt on the field hockey team). Even though I was one hundred percent Mexicana, every trip to visit relatives in deep Mexico was met with people telling me I was Americana. I’d even buy my clothes there and wear them, but it didn’t matter. My cousin said it was how I did my make up and the way I walked. Fascinating.

In college I was met with “I can’t believe your Mexican.” or “What is your background?” at the Westwood ice cream shop on trips to LA. I joined MECHA, took Spanish for Spanish Speakers, and even played in a cumbia band a little bit. My “gringo” boyfriend got me in because he was the drummer and having grown up in Venice, was in some ways more Chicano than me. That’s a whole other story…

After college, the Chicano art scene was supreme in Los Angeles, and I found other wanna-be Chicano artists – gente that grew up in Mexico and were addicted to low-riders and La Virgen de Guadalupe. I met Chicano art scholars that sounded like me and didn’t speak Spanish at all. I met Jewish Mexican artists, artists that spoke Spanish, French and English, and Spanish speaking painters from the Caribbean. I learned about living in the border, where you don’t really fit in on either side. That idea right there did it for me.

Eventually, I found my tribe, and it continues to expand as I meet more amazing, diverse, and creative people. Even now, my beautiful friend of only a few years, Byron is half Hungarian/Euro mix, half Latina. She listened to a recording of me singing in Spanish, and asked, “What is that accent?” “What accent?” I replied, innocently. We finally figured it out. It was ORANGE COUNTY-accented Spanish. When we go order tacos together, Byron with her limited Spanish, has a gorgeous accent and gets all this Spanish thrown back at her. I order completely in Spanish and all I get is English back. It continues…

So, I’m good. But, Barcelona. If I ever wanted a moment where I was completely and easily accepted, if I ever wanted to know what that felt like… it was in Barcelona. I traveled with my Euro American boyfriend around Europe in college. In England, they thought he was Irish. In Germany they asked him for directions. Austria? Check. In Italy, I think he got by as Italian. France? No problem. He could swing some local conversation anywhere it seemed. Me? No directions asked. No one knew what to do with me. No one… until we got to Barcelona.

The moment we got close to Barcelona, coming from Italy on Euro Rail, something started to happen. My boyfriend said something first. “Everyone looks like you.” “They do!” I said, my eyes growing wide. It was awesome. We got off the train. “I” was everywhere. It was like a good Twilight Zone, in a way. We had the same complexion, facial features, hair, and height. We walked the same. We did our makeup the same. We had a similar STYLE. “Oh. My. Goodness,” I thought. “I’ve come home. I’m surrounded by family. We’re simpatico. I BLEND IN.” And I GOT ASKED FOR DIRECTIONS.

I still day dream about Barcelona sometimes, even though it was so many years ago. I day dream that I am walking around… and Barcelona, she envelopes me in her embrace, and I feel I am just a part of her. I am a missing piece of her puzzle that has come home. I realize that the trip happened at an important moment. I was only 21, and at that age I think some of us are still desiring to belong in that longing, urgent, adolescent way. We are still thinking, “Who am I?”, you know? Although since then I have realized I am so much more than Barcelona – and am happy with my individuality – it was an act of encouragement and acceptance. So, thanks, Barcelona.

Photos by Evan Hartzell.

Hat from Fedora Primo Hat Merchants, Skirt by J.Jill, Blouse by Marc by Marc Jacobs, Sweater by Moda, Boots by Teva, Bag vintage



Clothes Line Stories





I do a lot of hand wash because I have all these fragile homemade pieces, vintage pieces, hand dyed, passed along super designer pieces. Then, it all goes on the line. My mom used to only use the dryer when it rained. Grew up on farms, my parents. My dad fills up a gallon milk container with the water from the shower while he’s waiting for it to warm up. Then, he waters the plants with it later. It’s so logical, this way of life.

I gather colors together in separate bags. They go on the line together like they are family to each other. Now that I look at them, they are a sort of interesting combination of characters…

“Sure, we have color in common, my dear, but I am a Marc Jacobs dress, and you are a… What are you, anyway?”, asks the red and brown dress.

“Me? I am from a… well, I guess a kind of Gap type store… but in Paris,” answers the red slinky top.

“Ha!” says the Marc Jacobs dress. “You were made for commoners. I bet they made ten thousand of you. I shouldn’t be drying next to you. As a matter of fact I am made of wool. I am lined! I can’t believe I’m not being dry cleaned.”

“I don’t know if this is true, but I heard you are second hand. Label or not, I am sorry to say you were given away… I was chosen on a very special trip. I have sentimental value. And besides, dry cleaning usually pollutes the air.”

(Minutes of quiet from the Marc Jacobs dress)

“Well,” says the red slinky top, “It’s okay. Laura likes you, too. Or you wouldn’t have been taken home. You wouldn’t be so lovingly laundered and hung in a sunny garden.”

“Sniff, sniff… You think so?”

“I know so… even if your weight with all that wool and lining pulls down this line to the point of breaking. It better not break. It looks dirty down there!”

“Don’t even talk like that! You’re scaring me!”

On the Bias

on the bias



Photographs by Aristotle

Electric flower in the garden. I have so much fun dressing up… even if its just to go visit my dad with the family. It’s like I think it’s going to make me cook everybody a better dinner or something. Maybe it does! Like the music you play while cooking. Everything matters.

Simple, simple, simple cut on the bias skirt. This pattern. Not only did I use it so many times, but I taught a few friends how to sew using it. I have also made it in differing lengths. My mom even made a few for a good friend of mine back in the day. You can go pretty far with one simple pattern. It is part of what I teach at my mobile studio, Paradiso Arts.

This particular one was made using fabric that came from a store in San Francisco that was called “Scrap”. How I loved, loved that store. OMG. Just googled and found out it STILL EXISTS. I did live there in the mid-nineties, after all, so I thought of it as a product of that time. In reality, it has been going since the 70’s! Oh the treasure trove that was/is Scrap. You would walk in, they’d give you a paper bag, you’d fill it with vintage Paris postcards, amazing fabric, and formica samples and pay five dollars. I kid you not. Many of my mid-nineties paintings were made on Scrap surfaces.

The blouse came from Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. I have a strong, strong weakness for peasant blouses involving embroidery. I do not discriminate. It can be Russian, as found here on my Pinterest board, Russian Fairytales, Mexican, Hungarian (Ooooh, they make good ones!), or from the Philippenes. They can be from anywhere in the world, and I can never have enough – especially white ones. This one was just so happy. It forced me to buy it. They do a particularly good collection at Honeywood Vintage. More $$ then the thrift store find, but you can be lazy and just benefit from all their expert searching.

And the belt? My friend Keiko had a party, and had a pile of free giveaways because her friend had just moved to Europe. Now that’s how I like to put an outfit together… full of plenty of stories!