Love your way to YOUR Lifestyle Wardrobe
Who is the best Valentine ever? YOU!
Yes, you are the most important person.
You, the valiant one in the mirror. But Valentine's Day is over? Who cares? Right?
You are the most important person ever. So keep celebrating you.
And we all know the best love stories begins with you and carries on with many beautiful chapters of known suitors or partners who will attempt to win you over. But it begins with you and of course, for me the first love story was with clothes.
So let me tell you my love story with clothes and fashion. I am not a psychologist. But, I have gained wonderful insight being single for most of my college life and good part of my 20s and what did I learn? Always be dressed in your lifestyle wardrobe.
Lifestyle what? I like to call it that. But simply put, it's your style that fits your lifestyle. It's best described with how you feel the most in love with YOU. Everything seems right. Stars align. You get a promotion/new client. You smile because well, you feel brilliant. Add the right clothes and outfit and life is gorgeous. You are beaming!
It sounds superficial but it really isn't. This love of clothes has paved the way to give me great jobs, make investments, close deals, do some theatre, make a day better, feel brilliant and most of all help someone else. How?
Awesome clothes made with people and the planet in mind have always been sensible to me. Even thrifted clothes were the most useful pieces as you will see it was part of my upbringing. But where do you begin? So many choices but my hope is my story can guide your future fashion choices.
This was my first time wearing fancy clothes to school and picture day was where you could wear your best clothes. Ah, 5 years old and you were the definition of freedom and energy wrapped into one. I spoke Spanish as my primary language. I lived in the Chicago burbs in a 3 flat and walked to Catholic school every day.
My first love was not so evident but nudged me since the beginning of middle school. But slowly with the 80s cultures, it showed me the way. The hair styles from the movie, Heathers with hair scrunchies (think big fancy pony tail holders) and ripped jeans pretty much ruled our female dominated household. And the Pretty in Pink star, Molly Ringwald was my icon. I no longer went to Catholic school so that meant I experienced an amazing liberation from that dreadful green black plaid uniform and white circular collar blouse in fifth grade. Trust me when I was ready, I was ready for a change in my clothes. I attended a public K-8th grade elementary school. I was so grateful for this freedom in fashion.
I loved all of the 80s because it did NOT hold back with the big t-shirt slogans. As a pre-teen, it felt like this was such a special fashion time. Every day was a new fashion discoverty from the mini-skirts that Madonna practically invented in her less than stellar movies to the shoulder pads on jackets and women's blouses. I took full advantage of that time and never looked back. I embraced all of it.
Then, high school came calling and everything I knew as fashion was thrown in the air when the 90s music scene hit and rocked the fashion world. I was an athlete, dressed as preppy girl, and walked among all my punk rock friends with combat boots. I was fitting in with so many people but still searching for my fashion style
Weekly, I would raid my sister’s closets and “borrow” clothes. You name it and I was trying on those styles. As one of four sisters and first generation Ecuadorian American, I was bored pretending to fit into the cliques. Fashion was my religion and I was hooked with passion. While lots of my peers around me were tripping over themselves to fit in I was tripping over sales racks and thrift stores shelves to find my style.
My style was basically what's known as athleisure wear that mostly included leggings and dress shirts because I was in cross country and soccer in high school and changing was part of the every day. But what got me through the day were the cute dresses and of course, jeans.
But in the passing of each season, I learned casual dresses became my go to staple because it was the universal comfortable stylish piece. Did I make fashion mistakes? Of course, I did especially in college because who are you was the ultimate expression. But back in high school the most important question was what am I going to wear today? Sometimes you would just try and fail. But high school was the time where you fit into yourself and defined your look. I kept trying through it all. In college you continued to find your edge while finals and midterms stressed you out.
Here are a couple of tips that worked for me.
My #1 tip is you always wanted to feel comfortable and coordinate your favorite colors and textures. Cotton knit was my default fabric and continues to be so today. Always love your colors and observe which ones make you feel more like yourself. Outdoor Voices is a close second to what was my style choices looked like in high school. Due to my athletic practices and busy student schedule comfort was a number one priority. A-Day is another contender that really allows you to bring brilliance to your day with bold designs and timeless colors. Most of my colors are beige lavender, white and black.
It’s always important to corporate textures and colors but you have do what works for your lifestyle wardrobe. I know linen was a go to for my tops during those humid Chicago summers but going back to cotton during the winters was essential. Seasonal extremes were the toughest because I did not prefer winters.
Another tip is to find pieces that will be functional whether you sitting for long periods, bike or drive to work. Think of the major activity in your life and base your clothing choices on that. I teach during the day and I am constantly walking and having great boots or a causal shoe is key to my daily activities which includes inspiring minds. While I am hustling after work, comfort remains king in my book so choose wisely with functionality at the core.
For example, I hustle with my second job: tutoring. Anything that can be versatile is good. Love Pact for the dress and pockets pieces. Hello, I always need a pen in my pocket as a teacher. And you can’t go wrong with a $40 dress. Awesome. I am winning and hustling at the same time. I practically lived in these kinds of dress tunics from Matter. And these dresses have pockets so it’s an easy yes to functionality, comfort and design.
Either way whether it’s work or play or the transition of it. Don’t let it get in the way of finding your style. I find the simpler the better but never shy away from showing your true style. I have my best days in those outfits. Always remember, love how you present your brilliance to the world is the best bet. People gravitate toward it. People will appreciate it and more than anything you will know your contribution is a better decision for the people who made it and the world.
The people who make your clothes deserve better choices and so do you. So, choose wisely. There’s lots to choose from as sustainable fashion begins to make shifts in the fashion world. As a young woman in Chicago growing up with immigrants parents, I didn’t have the latest fashions as my peers and often we would go to the retail shops with discount pricing but what I appreciated were the hand-me downs. The new clothes were fun but the clothes that were handed down to me were worn and the stories were in the clothes. I could use them again. And re-write my own story. I saw value in that and I appreciated that part of my life.
As I continue to write my story as a fashion designer, I invite you to fall in love with you each day and continue to nurture your choices as a buyer. I hope these tips and part of my story have inspired to think about your style and sustainable fashion choices. Please realize your power in making fashion more sustainable and affordable. One of my missions in life is to have sustainable fashion the standard in today’s fashion world. I also invite you to sign up for more stories via my e-newsletter. I will share more stories and chapters of my life as a first-generation Latina creating a sustainable fashion brand. My journey hasn’t started a year ago creating this fashion brand. Allow me to share more of my story with YOU. Sign-up and see how it all began in Chicago and how today I find myself at home in California. I'm going to show you my process and the details that led me to begin this journey in sustainable fashion.
Thank you so much for reading about my first love, clothes, and how it teased me so subtly I almost missed it. But today I am so grateful and fortunate to enjoy my process as a fashion designer and be the person who is so in love with my work.