Category Archives: outfits

Best Coffee and Tea Drinks of Los Angeles!

Yeah, and I don’t mean tea shirts! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. I am so funny.

But seriously, I go to cafe’s a lot. Before kids, with kids (there was a lot of drawing), and after kids. After kids meaning kids are teens now and even though they still love a good “coffee cookie” as we called it, they are just really busy, and like in college and stuff. So, since I figured out that variety is really helpful for my creative process ( I used to write in the same cafe for months and then switch. I called them residencies.), I end up trying a lot of different coffees and teas in Los Angeles. There is still so many more drinks to try, but for the most part these are served close by where I teach or live.

So, I am so excited to share with you my “Best Coffee and Tea Drinks of Los Angeles” list! But, because this IS a Clothes Story, I will describe the outfit that would best go with each cafe. Naturally.

A word about “best”. Now, you think because a place has the best matcha then why doesn’t it have a killer cappuccino? It is clearly a mystery of the coffee and tea universe. Also, this of course is all just a matter of my taste buds. But I have to tell you, that yes, I have tried cappuccino’s at all of these places and more and there is only one cappuccino that is the best in my book in LA County, and I know a lady from Milan who agrees with me. But just because they make the best cappuccino at that fine establishment does not mean they make my favorite chai latte. I know! Is there any rhyme or reason to this? Let’s just enjoy that there is a reason to venture and mix it up. Because depending on what hot caffeinated drink you are in the mood for, there is a cafe for every occasion.

Latte: Coffee Tomo

Shout out to Bryan for the latte and to Alejandra for the cutie bear Tomo Latte.

To be honest, sometimes I get the worst impressions of people the first time I meet them. There have been instances when someone who ends up being dear to my heart is also someone I thought I would never be friends with the first time I met them. Usually, it’s just crazy circumstance. That is what happened with Coffee Tomo. It was one of those ozone depleted days. I parked near Cinefile because I needed to purchase a Miyazaki film to give to a birthday girl. Evan wanted coffee and we didn’t want to re-park, so we walked and walked under a sun that seemed to grow hotter and more scalding with every step towards the epicenter of Sawtelle. Maybe I was close to sun stroke; I don’t know, but when we walked into a cafe I ordered an iced coffee and I don’t even like iced coffees. I put sugar in it. I don’t usually put sugar in my coffee. See, how we were off to a wrong start? That was Coffee Tomo. So, then I would see the cafe from afar on other visits to that hood and subconsciously think, “Oooh, sunstroke coffee.” But then one cool and breezy night, I was meeting a friend at Balconi down the street and there was no place to sit, so we wandered down Sawtelle finding no other espresso bar type places. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Coffee Tomo. “Well, I guess we can go there.” “Oooh,” said my friend looking at the menu on the wall, “Let’s order a pretzel!” She’s a foodie. “What?” I said. “They don’t have food here. Where do you see that?” “Right there,” she said, pointing at the menu. “They make FRESH pretzels to order. I’m getting one with red bean paste and cheese!” Before I knew it she inquired about the Tomo Latte made with condensed milk. We ordered two pretzels and two Tomo Lattes. Incredible. Then I loved the place and kept going there ordering pretzels filled with cheese and Tomo Lattes. Of course, the Tomo Lattes were tasty; they had condensed milk in them! But, then, one day — no, this riveting story is not over yet — Evan and I just slipped in for a moment to get two coffees to go and I ordered a simple latte. I didn’t even think about it. I was skipping the Tomo Latte because I go off sugar at least once a day. I stepped back onto the sidewalk, took a sip of that latte and it was like the clouds parted and the most beautiful ozone-protected sun shined through right onto me and my latte. I had gone to latte heaven. I’m not kidding. I actually said, “What is this?!” And Evan said, “Laura. You ordered a latte, right?” “Yeah! But it’s so GOOD.” Did I mention they roast those beans every morning in house? Maybe that matters.

And this I know because I have tried lattes EVERYWHERE. Yeah, like donuts, which brings us to…

Oh, wait. The outfit. Coffee Tomo is best in a super comfy cashmere oatmeal beige hoody sweater with equally comfy black stretchy modern slacks. Slip on leather sneakers. Hair in up do. Bring your homework.

Hong Kong Milk Tea:  Cafe DulceThe crown of all Hong Kong milk teas can be found at Cafe Dulce. (And the best Spirulina churros) in Little Tokyo.  I know this list is Japanese neighborhood heavy so far. I know. I never even had a Hong Kong milk tea until I tried this one, and then I thought, “WHAT just happened to my mouth?!” I have since tried others, thinking, “Yay, they make Hong Kong milk teas, too!” only to be disappointed. Don’t be disappointed. Go to Cafe Dulce. And everyone is really friendly that works there. I would put Cafe Dulce on my “Friendliest Cafes in LA” list if I had one. Did you know that some cafe’s actually train their staff to not be friendly? I know this for a fact, and I have this game I play at those cafe’s. It’s like trying to make the guards at Kensington Palace laugh, except getting it to actually work. You might be surprised that you don’t have to try that hard. It’s just that everyone gets intimidated right away and usually doesn’t try. Tangent! Oh, yeah, and because Cafe Dulce is in Little Tokyo, you can go to Footland, my favorite place for sneakers.

Outfit: Well, cosplay. Duh.

Matcha Latte:  Gjustamatcha-latteYou know how when you go to Paris, you feel like Paris just makes you a better person? That is what the unsweetened 100% organic homemade almond/hazelnut milk matcha latte at Gjusta in Venice does. When I’m drinking that nut milk matcha latte in an earthy cup, I just feel so… right. I feel smart. Like, “I made a smart decision today.” Sure, it was just about what hot drink to get, but it feels like so much more. Did I mention that EVERYTHING at Gjusta is locally grown and organic. That’s right. That biscuit will not give me a stomach ache. Yay. And they serve it in a cup that feels so satisfying to hold. The cup is a collaboration between Gjusta and a ceramic artist, and you can buy them next door. Again, locally grown; I’m not kidding. So, yes, that is a fresh biscuit and homemade jam that is not too sweet in the background. Gjusta is a bakery after all. I know I keep saying homemade, but at Gjusta everything tastes like someone loved you while they made it.

Outfit: Omg; I have a WHOLE Pinterest board about Gjusta as an outfit. Not even kidding.

Macchiato: The Conservatory for Coffee and TeaThe Conservatory for Coffee and Tea has a decades-old, excellent reputation for quality and personal attention. Macchiatos are a drink where you need a strong, beautiful espresso. With only a mark of steamed milk, the espresso is on stage. It’s live! This macchiato at The Conservatory on Friday afternoons could become a tradition for me. Why? Two words: Live. Jazz. Imagine my surprise when one Friday afternoon — well, first of all, I found parking in the back! — as I approach The Conservatory doors I hear a sound that goes straight to my heart: a live stand up bass and a dreamy electric guitar. I had the pleasure of meeting on bass, the amazing Michael Saucier and on guitar the super pro Josh Skair. I talked to A.J. the owner of The Conservatory and he said they try to have a couple of hours of live jazz every Friday afternoon. Omg. The secret is out. You had me at coffee roaster right in the room, with specially chosen beans, expert baristas producing the a superb macchiato in a cup that reminds me of Coyoacan, Mexico. Then, you had to put live jazz on top of it?? An embarrassment of riches. THIS is an experience. You’re welcome.

Outfit: One of those 40’s silk flowered dresses with jelly heels we used to wear in the early-mid nineties. Crocheted matador style wrap. Red lipstick. No jewelry.

Photo by Evan Hartzell.

Cubano: Commissary

I feel like so many of my coffee and tea stories are about surprises. It’s true! Here’s another one. Now, everything on The Commissary (which has four locations, but I am speaking of an unassuming little industrial modern spot below a modern apartment building in Palms – yeah, I know their website says Culver City) menu is pretty solid — God, we are so spoiled coffee-wise in LA — but it’s The Cubano  that made me go there just for the drink. This is not a traditional Cuban coffee. The coffee is “espectacular” from Ethiopia, the cinnamon sugar syrup is added, creating all at once a cappuccino like drink that takes you to a fantasy version of Cuba that is very “internacional”. The drink was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything so out of the ordinary, and ordered The Cubano on a whim. The name was inspiring. I’m not going to tell you that the iced matcha latte is also supreme because I am really strict about only talking about one drink per establishment.

Outfit: Understated yet elegant gray linen dress like a flower grower in Japan crossed with an unexplainably stylish programer. Copper earrings. Clogs.

Iced Coffee:  Philz CoffeeDon’t be put off by the Halloween candy corn hoe down aesthetic of Philz Coffee (or the strange lighting. No seriously. One was covered in fluorescents. Another was spookily dark. I’m sensitive to lighting.) If you have to put on shades or bring a flash light, do it because of the Mint Mohito which is an iced coffee indulgence like no other. Medium blend coffee (their actual straight coffee comes close to competing for my just plain coffee winner), sprigs of fresh wild mint, cream, and organic brown sugar. Not too sweet, coffee has depth, and the mint mixes with the cream like they are in deep love with each other. I’m not the only one who has a Philz Coffee Mint Mohito story of coming to Jesus, but here’s mine. We were visiting our son during his freshman year of college. The three of us sat on a bench under a canopy of trees.  Suddenly, he turned serious. “Oh. (Pauses) I want to tell you guys about something.” We were on the edges our seats. This was obviously some big news or revelation he wanted to tell us about. He didn’t usually talk like this. Normally, we asked a lot of questions and he was “encouraged” to share with us. “There’s this drink. The Mint Mohito. At Philz Coffee. I think you would like it.” This was not a simple sharing of a new favorite drink. We took him seriously, went to a Philz the next weekend, and ordered said drink. Upon tasting my drink (I hadn’t looked at it’s description on the menu) I realized that our son was trying to tell us something.

My baby had started drinking coffee.

Outfit: I’m thinking Ginny Weasley home on holiday. Enough said.

Chai Latte:  Intelligensia

With the matcha dipped croissant? I usually do not indulge! To be truly enjoyed, the chai latte needs to stand alone, but it was so pretty! Photo by Evan Hartzell.

I used to make fun of Venice. Well, Venice is always an easy target. Always has been. Even in the 1920’s newspapers people wondered “why all the flotsam and jetsam always ended up in Venice?” They were referring to people, not marine debris. I lived in Venice for a number of years, dragging myself down the hill from sunny Santa Monica where I had spent most of my LA life and which I understood because Santa Monica was a “real city” with a mayor, a top notch recycling program, and everything. And it felt solid. Someone who has been through a couple of major quakes appreciates living on bedrock. So, when people would say, “Oh, you live in Venice. That’s so cool!” I would respond with “It’s a swamp.” They didn’t understand. But you know, places grow on you. And then places change. Some places change A LOT in a really short amount of time. Like Venice. Now, Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney is old change. It goes back to 2009! Ancient. People swear by their Intelligentsia coffee experience. It’s pretty serious behind that counter. They roast their beans and everything. But I’m weird. I go there for the chai latte. And I get it with almond milk, so just imagine how delicious it would be with dairy. Don’t imagine. Go try it. Again, had this chai latte; disappointed by pretty much all others. It’s not too sweet. Elegant foam. Not too spicy, but spicy enough. Every sip makes me so happy. Besides the chai latte, the people watching is top notch. Lots of “creatives”. See? Can’t stop making fun of Venice.

Outfit: Oh, man. I gave Gjusta my Venice outfit board?! Okay… Blue Nepalese wrap skirt, black Hungarian, embroidered top, gold leather flats. “I know the person who made this” necklace.

Honey Latte: Bardonna

 This drink could go on the “Recent Discovery” list. I really shouldn’t include it since I only went here once and so only had this one drink there, but I am still affected by the experience. This was an emergency experience so I feel a little indebted to these people. Very FWP. Here’s what happened. The other day I took a risk and ordered an “almond latte” at a VERY fancy pressed juice establishment in a VERY fancy neighborhood. I did this because I was cold and about to sit in the wind for 3.5 hours. Don’t ask. (Okay; related to teenagers that don’t have time to go get coffee with me.) I even looked up best coffee in the area I was in and found nothing. See, I tried. The moment I saw the latte, I knew it was a mistake. It looked like a disaster. I took a sip and it was scorching. Instead of leaving it right there on the counter (because the barista was so sweet looking), I took it outside and decided to walk around looking for a trash can. So sad. It was four dollars, of course because it was ORGANIC and in a fancy shop in a fancy neighborhood, like I said. And like the mystery of best coffee and teas, this chain of juice stores has the BEST smoothies. None of it makes any sense. Anyway, I wandered into a clothing store, awkwardly still holding the latte I was never going to drink. The super friendly shop assistant saw the cup in my hand, and it turned out she was a major coffee appreciator as well. I told her what happened to me. “You have to try Bardonna! They just opened one across the street. BEST coffee. And they make their own nut milks!” So, I skipped on over, and even though it was my first time there, I didn’t do any writing, and they just opened four weeks ago, I am putting them on my list. Best honey latte goes to Bardonna. Okay, I’ve never actually had a honey latte before, and it’ not even on the menu (although a vanilla honey latte is) which makes it cooler. Not too sweet. Awesome milk. Perfect transcendent foam. They use Klatch espresso. Oh, and the inside of the cafe looks like the beginnings of the Bay Area Figurative Movement transported to Carmel in the 1920’s. It will make sense if you go there.

Outfit: Oooh, this is fun. Crimson red silk shirt dress under ivory car coat. Large thick leather brown simple tote. “To Catch a Thief” sunglasses.

Lavender Tea Latte: Milk and Honey

(Click on a photo –  all by Evan Hartzell –  to start the slide show above.) I will be brief because I am SO breaking the rules right now. But, come on. The traffic has gotten so bad in LA proper that an hour trip to the OC (when there’s no traffic… like, on a Sunday) isn’t really going that far for tea.  When I’m in Huntington Beach on the weekends I don’t go write in cafe’s. Instead, I do things like clean my dad’s bathroom, make waffles, and walk the dog to the beach. We make wonderful stove top espresso on my dad’s O’keefe & Merritt. But there’s this place that caught our eye on a walk to the beach. It didn’t look very O.C. Milk and Honey had lots of moss and eclectic, funky industrial furniture. We decided to venture in. Doggies welcomed. I perused the menu and was intrigued by the listed “lavender tea latte”. I tried it hot. They also serve their hot drinks in vintage cups. You know I love that. I was instantly transported to a French lavender garden. The air was suddenly pleasantly dry. Did I hear the sound of pétanque? I kept ordering it on future visits. I was just going for the lavender tea latte now. In the photos above, I tried it iced. So. Good. Sometimes you have to go to the OC because you’re kid is so ace at soccer. You know who you are. Milk and Honey. Two locations. You’re welcome.

Outfit: Oh, yeah. There’s one in the photos above!

Cappuccino: Caffe Luxxe

Cappuccinos are the Mexican rice of cafe’s. You’re a pretty hard core foodie or just Mexican if you know that the best way to judge a Mexican restaurant is by their rice. Do you know how hard it is to find a drinkable cappuccino in LA? If you’ve had tons of them, and you don’t understand what I am talking about, then you have never had a truly perfect cappuccino, and I am deeply saddened by this. I have three standards that I compare things to when someone tells me something is good. TV series? I ask if it is it as good as Sherlock. They usually say, “Sherlock? Right, then. Well, no. But this one grows on you after a few episodes. Blah, blah, blah.” I’m not listening. I don’t have time for a show that “grows on you”. That’s called lowering my standards. Food? “Is it as good as Gjusta (yeah, the place with the best matcha lattes)?”  “Oh, well… Gjusta? I mean, you can’t really… I mean, Gjusta. Right. Well, no.” Cappuccino. “Is it as good as Caffe Luxxe?” Ha. You know what? I just realized I never ask that question. BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER. The only cappuccino that is worth drinking is at Caffe Luxxe. It’s just perfect. Well, I think it is what a cappuccino is supposed to be. Like, you go to Italy and you just go anywhere like the Illy Cafe and it is like this. People in Italy just wake up and assume they are going to have cappuccinos this excellent. Oh, if only it were true here. Cappuccinos are the things that are the hardest to get right. When we go to some random cafe we’ve never been to, and I say, “I’ll have a cappuccino, ” my love says, “Whoa, are you sure you want to do that?” He’s eyeing the machine, the barista, looking around.

Little piece of Italy, I tell you. No passport required.

Outfit: Crisp white “boyfriend” shirt tucked in,  501’s distressed rolled up, real gold jewelry, messy French hair, no makeup, black leather sandals.

 

Adventures Down Secret Stairways (or how to accessorize for cold weather wearing a sun dress)

Everyone should have at least one red lit in the dark photo portrait. Thanks, Evan.

This post was called “Winter Bohemian” but then it turned Spring. In L.A. we are still having some cool evenings so I am thinking a post about dressing warm in a sun dress is still relevant, right? I mean, this is an issue for me. I tend towards being cold unless I am doing yoga at least six days a week — when my circulation is really at top performance (ooh, such techy talk — “performance”!). Makes me feel like a baby having to be all bundled up in pants and a coat while all these people run around with nothing on their legs or shoulders, no goosebumps, sandals, hair up, looking so carefree and breezy . Another outstanding fwp.

We followed the directions.

About the secret staircase, though. I love the magical hidden among the mundane. That’s why I love magical businesses and headquarters that are right in front of your eyes, but that mere muggles do not detect. l also love The Borrowers for this reason and portals like the one Alice comes across in Through the Looking Glass…. So, that is where we went this cold and starry night. I was going to let my love go alone to China Town to check out a musical project of someone he kinda knew online, but once he showed me the instructions to get there, I HAD to accompany him. I was definitely not disappointed. Betalevel is a cool spot to check out music “projects”. It’s experimental. People sit in chairs and really listen to/watch performances. It is an intimate experience which took me back to the early 90’s when we used to go to all kinds of funky coffee houses to check out music and art.

Oooh, my hair looks so long and thick. Optical illusion I love.

Back to the outfit… to use a popular phrase which I do love, this is a cold weather dressing “hack”. So, here is a list of six things that can help you, too wear a sun dress in cold* weather.

•Long dress! Well, duh. And this one is longer in the back which gives it the illusion of being more breezy and light.

•Not cotton. This one is acrylic, but I also have a wool sundress. Seriously. It’s from the early 60’s. I don’t understand its existence, but how lucky am I? Anyway, if the sun dress is not cotton that really helps.

•Warm accessories. Like this acrylic, thick, super long scarf I made. I have also worn hats for warmth. In my opinion, if you put it together in a cool way in terms of size, color, shape, texture you can sneak warmers in!

•Boots. Obsessed. So, of course. Need I say more? The ones pictured are great because they are short clog boots so they go along with the illusion of not too wrapped up looking. I also love this socks with sandals thing that is popular right now. I tend to collect an array of colorful socks, so that style really works for me. My sandals are pretty flashy as well.

•Secretly warm sweater. A long sweater that is thick and edged with faux fur can be so cozy and not heavy looking. I was so excited to find how well this works. Make sure, though that the sweater has a tight weave so those icy winds don’t creep through.

•Layers. This is the most obvious hack, right? Everyone knows this one. But… it’s all about nice colors, shape, textures that go with the sun dress at hand. The layers compliment the dress. Here, I wear a thin, but warm long sleeve t shirt that wishes it was Patagonia. Also, tights. Gotta have those. Good, thick ones.

Back to the music… Here is some k-blamo music featuring a photo from this shoot. Yes, we have a youtube channel you can subscribe to now! Just click on “subscribe” and you will get an email whenever we (k-blamo) post a video.

*When I say cold, I mean it is lower than the 70’s. I know it’s funny, but come on. Lower than 70’s fahrenheit in the evening is not sun dress weather!

Dress label was removed (friend’s closet clean out!). Sweater by 21 up. Scarf homemade. T shirt by Uniqlo. Boots by Hanna Anderson.

All photos by Evan Hartzell

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.

Chakra Dressing: Solar Plexus

         Oh my goodness. Fashion Spirit Cards one week and chakra dressing the next? Let me interview myself for a minute… Are you serious?  “Yes, I’m completely serious.” Accompany me on this mystic journey of adornment, please. Look; I even had to add another category at the top of the page – “SPIRIT”!

I used to only notice talk of chakras as part of a joke making fun of west coast living. In another chapter many years later, I struggled to keep up with one of my first meditation lessons from a healer friend, thinking, “Chakras? What? Oh, I’ll try to remember those colors later.” Eventually, as a visual artist I asked her to show me what kind of blue is the blue chakra. “Oh, more of a turquoise? I can get into that.” I was trying to get a handle on it all. In Indian/Ayurvedic thought, chakras are the seven main centers or wheels of energy in our bodies that align up and down the spine. Read a more in depth explanation here.

Eventually, I got all the colors down in my visual meditation. I could remember the meanings of green, blue, indigo, and violet. However, I could not remember the meanings of the first three – red, orange, and yellow. Every time I would contemplate those areas and colors I would think, oh yeah, I have to look those up later. Years went by, and I didn’t look them up. My excuse to myself was that I was doing important work up there with green, blue, indigo and violet and that I couldn’t really take on anymore.

Finally, I thought of these missing pieces when I wasn’t meditating. I looked them up, and guess what! Well, I was shocked that I had been missing these important areas because I really needed to strengthen them!

I don’t wear yellow or gold a lot, and I wasn’t thinking about the solar plexus on this particular day as I put my outfit together, but as soon as I saw the photos – while still sitting on the beach – I got so excited because I wondered if maybe I had subconsciously chosen to wear all these pieces of yellow because I had been really focusing on the solar plexus for the past three weeks in my meditations. Then, the idea occurred to me that one could purposely dress to focus on a certain chakra. Even more exciting! Oh, the powers we have! The possibilities!

In short, the solar plexus – the yellow part of the chakra system – is about your personal power, your perception of who you are. I feel it is best explained here. I found a different site where one healing strategy is to surround yourself with more yellow, so why not wear it?

I had been feeling a pang of anxiety in this spot every 30 minutes or so for a couple days when I decided to look into this chakra. Once I knew what it was all about, the fact that I was feeling something there totally made sense based on what was going on in my life. During the school year I had been very focused on being open to messages about where my journey was taking me professionally for months. Then, as my busiest teaching season started (summer), I stopped asking. I stopped listening. Sure enough, as soon as the workload lessoned, I felt this pang of anxiety in that spot just below my ribcage. It was like someone ringing a doorbell. I also started to notice 11:11 everywhere. That had not happened for a while. Even the cashier at Trader Joe’s said, “Hey, I’ve never seen this before!” He showed me my receipt, and there it was. The total was $111.11. Wow. Read more about 11:11 here, to see if these interpretations resonate with you.

As soon as I educated myself about the solar plexus, followed some of the ideas I found about how to strengthen this area (through meditation, writing,  yoga), the anxiety went away. A couple of days of focus, and I dropped the ball, and the little doorbell started ringing again. So, I got back on track. With this area strengthened, I had the courage to do more space clearing in my life, see with more clarity what I want to put my energy into, and have been able to attract opportunities aligned with my goals. Today I am wearing yellow again… and I feel like I am right where I need to be.

Chakra dressing. Who knew? Now, my closet being color coded makes even more sense! If you try putting your outfit together based on what chakra you are focusing on, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know if you feel it makes a difference for you.

Photographs by Evan Hartzell

Umbrella from Chinatown, Los Angeles – similar here, sweater is thrift store find (Forever 21), skirt is by Carolina, bag by Bee, Bark, & Moss.

How to Make and Use Fashion Spirit Cards

      

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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

   

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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