Behind the Mask

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To say the least, it’s a weird and awful time. In the midst of all that’s happened over the past few months, I haven’t really felt comfortable blogging about fashion. It’s really not important in comparison to working on our safety and more importantly, our humanity.

That said, as it feels especially heavy right now, I wanted to focus on something somewhat ironically light – stylish face masks. It’s looking like we will have these for a while, so why not make them fun? My friend Karen shared this new vendor with me – katiemay.com. Lace, sequins, leopard – they are all showcased here on this mask site. Also, I’ve found some cute camo and leopard versions on Etsy. Locally, Posh Boutique is offering a more designer feel with Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada versions. You can check those out on the Posh IG page, shopposhboutique.

Cover your face, but unleash your heart. Stay well!

The Big Blazer is Back

They first made their debut on a Neiman Marcus commercial earlier this year with Kate Upton and stylist Erin Walsh, and now they are all over the magazines. Welcome back 1990s! The oversized blazer is back…

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Fashion, Fascinators and Footwear: A Tucson Designer’s Fabulous Journey

Fashion designer Jeanne Bjorn was walking down Fifth Avenue in 1980s New York when a woman asked her where she got her stylish fur coat.

When Bjorn replied it was her own design, the woman gave her a business card. It was Jean Rosenberg, vice president of iconic Henri Bendel.

The meeting would become fortuitous — not in launching Bjorn’s fashion star — but in ushering the now Tucson-based designer into compelling work in Oscar and Tony-Award winning costume creation, beautiful millinery and shoe design.

“She came to see my clothing and she said, ‘I think your work is really amazing,’ ” Bjorn recalled. “ ‘This is how much money you are going to need to go forward, if you’re going to compete with say, Donna Karan or Calvin Klein.’” “And I looked at that number and I was stunned. It was so much. It was like a New York wake-up call.”

Bjorn grew up on a Missouri farm, fascinated with her mother’s bolts of fabric. She would meticulously touch and study their textures, designs and sheen. Her passion led her to a degree in textiles and fabric design at the University of Georgia and then propelled her across the country to San Francisco, where she would launch her own label of women’s designer sportswear. Her namesake line, J Bjorn, would be featured in shows and stores in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where she had just relocated when she met Rosenberg.

After that Bendel moment, Bjorn instead sought out a job in costume design for stage and film with Barbara Matera Ltd. and would eventually help with creations for Broadway’s Dream Girls, The Secret Garden, the Tony Award-winning Crazy For You, Oscar-winning designs for The Age of Innocence, Hook and the New York City Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty.  “I used to joke with my friends that I had to leave fashion because the pay was lower and the hours were longer, but the creativity was over the top.”

Bjorn also continued to take classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She chose millinery by opening up the class catalog and blindly pointing a finger. She instantly loved it and soon began making hats for clients and select lines for stores. But after a health-threatening experience at a New York costume shop where she was head milliner, she moved to Portland, Ore.  There, she spent more than a decade teaching millinery and eventually shoe design, too. “I love designing and creating, but teaching is the best gift I can give someone because it passes the skill on, not to be forgotten.”

Indeed, some of her students included shoe designers from Columbia sportswear, as well as, rising young artisans who, after her instruction, ultimately moved to Italy to further their studies.

Now in Tucson, Bjorn has continued classes in hat and shoe making. Though she is awaiting her next move after the Covid-19 pandemic, the designer can look back proudly on a career that has seen her work featured in Women’s Wear Daily, California Apparel News, The San Francisco Examiner and The Oregonian, to name a few.

“We need a world of good designers,” she said. “Some of these skills, I worry we are close to losing them if we don’t teach a new generation.”

 You can find out more about Bjorn’s classes on her website, jeannebjorn.com.

Denim Tie Dye For…

Yep, it’s a thing for Spring. And if you can’t go out, just enjoy wearing it in your living room…

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When We Meet Again…

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The Quarantine Life

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A few days into social distancing and self-quarantine, I have watched way too many episodes of The Pioneer Woman. Seriously, she is so intriguing. She cooks amazing food and is always happy. ALWAYS. LIKE EVERY SINGLE SECOND. I just want to see her get mad one time! I also love reading the Facebook posts about how we’ll all come out of this as better people – fit because we have exercised every day (sure!) and smarter because we have read many novels (can’t seem to sit still through one!)

So, in that spirit, here are a few fun things to consider:

Trying out a new shampoo and conditioner – Jennifer Garner made me do it. She’s a queen and I love her and she uses Virtue Labs products, so I ordered a sample and now the full-size versions – they arrived by mail pretty quickly. I hope the magic Alpha Keratin will make my hair look amazing, but I’m willing to blindly follow Garner’s advice right now.

Working out to Fitness Blender videos on YouTube – These are short and sweet and very doable. Ranging in length from 10 to 50 minutes, they switch things up and make working out fun. I especially love their workouts for people who get bored easily.  Plus, Kelly — who does most of the workouts — is very real and not perfect and makes you feel like you have a workout buddy each time.

Lounging in pajamas – Amazon still has many sets from stylish satin to sporty and comfy. It looks like average delivery is a week out, but EVEN BETTER YET, you could stop by local boutique Bravowhich is still open in Plaza Colonial and continues to post all of their items on Facebook and Instagram.

Hang in there everyone!

Arm Yourself

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Since the coronavirus has most of us social distancing these days, there’s no better time to talk about what to wear when we all see each other again!

Recently, I tried out black, mesh Arm Spanx under a black dress that otherwise would have meant baring my oft red-splotched arms at an event. I went back and forth about it, but also remembering that I’d been lacking in the push-up category lately and there would be a million pics of the night (because hello…women?), I tried them out. And they were glorious!

They slip on and fit right at mid-chest, so perfect under a dress or a top or a vest and I just felt a lot more confident. You can buy the premium brand Arm Spanx by Spanx – which range in price from $30 to $70 – or you could buy an Amazon knockoff brand like I did. Bellelovin, which despite its unfortunate brand name worked great for me, cost $12.99. Highly recommend!

The Desert Housewife Survival Guide

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One of the most epic fashion guidebooks out there may have been the 1980s The Official Preppy Handbook, which turned a sarcastic, yet truthful lens on high society and how to achieve it.  Having observed Foothills life in this desert city for two decades now, I’d like to offer up my own little tongue-in-cheek guide – The Desert Housewife Survival Guide – for those days when you have to run kids to school, go to the grocery store, try to work out and still feel somewhat pretty. Like you think you look effortless, but really, it took some commitment. Enjoy and feel free to add your own:

  1. Wear stylish workout clothes – Most of us can just throw on some Marshalls’ leggings and slim-fitting knock-off jacket and head out, but if I’m being truthful, it’s when you wear lululemon and Athleta that you feel like a BOSS.
  2. Baseball hat AND makeup – College-branded or vintage, trucker or sleek and sporty, wearing a baseball hat will not only hide your unwashed hair but puts a laser focus on your beautiful eyes. BUT, said eyes must have mascara and a full-face of makeup is even better.
  3. Tennis skirt – Even if you don’t play, it looks hotter than leggings or bike shorts in the spring and summer. A pink one is best, but any Easter egg color is perfect. Pair with self-tanner unless you are blessed with perfect skin.
  4. Cowboy boots – Are you tired of flip flops all year long? A pair of cowboy boots dresses up jeans, shorts, a dress, leggings. ANYTHING.
  5. Perfumed lotion – As it gets hotter, the perfect foil to swass and swoob. (coined words courtesy of my friend Sara)
  6. Designer bag – Whether it’s new or used, a designer bag makes anything better. Even if you haven’t showered and are literally done with everyone. Carrying one just makes life a little nicer.
  7. Jersey dress – A jersey dress doesn’t show sweat. Black is best, but any color will successfully camouflage that you had to run a child to day camp at Saguaro Monument East and then have to look decent enough to meet your friend for coffee.
  8. Self-tanner – I’m pale with rosacea. It’s my best friend.

 ***And whatever you do, DO NOT wear old pink crocs to pick up your daughter from high school and proceed to get out of your car to help her with her stuff!  I’m just saying…for a friend.

The Convenience of Camo

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The camo jacket. It’s your BFF for all seasons and adds style to anything you wear. At one point at Posh Boutique, I think everyone who worked there owned one and often, we’d wear them on the same day! Bought new or vintage, on Amazon or at Goodwill, the camo jacket is as universally useful as its denim counterpart. In Tucson, you should check out Millers Surplus downtown first, then check the resale and Goodwill stores. If you choose Amazon, like I did a few years ago, most of the jackets are from the crazy labels with weird names so you must read the reviews. The iconic Polo camo jacket is still my favorite and every once again it pops up on eBay, so keep a lookout!