Charming Charlie: A Comeback Story

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

With tragic new headlines every day about stores closing their doors — Lord & Taylor, SteinMart, Century 21– Charming Charlie has launched an online comeback after declaring bankruptcy and having to shutter doors a few years ago.

My family and I first fell in love with Charming Charlie stores in Texas, so when the store opened a location in Tucson Mall, it was the place to go for cute clothes, accessories and gifts. The store’s color-organized clothing also made it really easy to find outfits for football games. You’d be seriously surprised how difficult it is to find CUTE RED CLOTHING for Arizona football games in this town. (Not that I have to worry about that this year – 2020 slowly killing me…)

But anyway, check out the store online! Some very cute clothes, good prices and even the masks are unique!

Target’s Latest Coup: Winky Lux

Winky Lux, the campy cosmetics brand founded in 2015 by two friends, is a nice little surprise at Target stores these days! The fun brand known for its flower petal-infused lip balms used to be purchased only at Nordstrom and other high-end boutiques, but now is widely available to our T-town masses. According to the brand’s website: “Winky Lux was born with the idea that since every beauty product is technically a little gift, from you to you, it should always look and feel as special as the person receiving it (who is also you).” Genius!

Roux The Day: Tucson’s Ashley La Russa

One of the first things you notice about Ashley La Russa’s Facebook page is her positive, ambitious drive to make things happen.

Founder of Tucson’s Roux Events LLC and the dynamic force behind #BlaxFriday, La Russa often posts her activities each week – all focused on community progress. The beautiful, accompanying illustrations by Afro-French artist Nicholle Kobi only confirm that this vibrant woman is on the move.

“Roux Events was founded in 2019 with the primary focus of supporting community leaders and organizations that value equity, diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Roux Events is an event management company that serves as a foundation for collaboration within our community.”

A graduate of Sam Houston State University in Texas, La Russa was invited to Tucson in 2008 after meeting the artistic director of Arizona Theatre Company when she was an intern in Florida. She accepted the position of assistant state manager and devoted a decade to the group, serving in several capacities there.

“I fell in love with Tucson within the first week of moving here,” said La Russa. “The pink and lavender sunsets are remarkable with the backdrop of the mountains. Tucson also has a wealth of culture based in Tohono O’odham and Sonoran traditions. Proud to live in the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy and enjoy delicious dishes from world-renowned chefs.”

Notably, she picked the name “Roux” for her company because in culinary terms, it’s the essential base of butter and flour that enriches many Creole dishes with hearty flavor and texture – a strong foundation for a successful result.

And Roux Events is successfully bringing projects like “BlaxFriday to the public forefront. “As a Black woman-owned business, we started #BlaxFriday to spotlight local Black-owned businesses” that have traditionally been ignored and unrecognized. Besides a kickoff event earlier this summer, La Russa has helped engineer a BlaxFriday app and hopes to expand into Phoenix too. She consistently uses her social media to promote numerous burgeoning businesses here.

All the while, she is also working to create stand-out events. “The key to creating a memorable event is the experience,” she said. “This could be achieved by theatrical productions, connections with new community members and swag. Swag is a must. Everyone loves a goodie bag filled with surprises and gifts.”

More recently because of the pandemic, she is adding the “digital experience” to her portfolio, as “…the virtual event space is booming,” La Russa said.

 “While we are unable to meet in large gatherings for events, this time has truly shaped my mindset to value positivity and advocacy. The things that used to bother me or stifle progress are now pushed aside to allow the abundance of blessed guidance.”

A Kinder, Gentler Mask on Etsy

A few versions of HappyStarla masks

In these pandemic times, you can always count on the creativity of people in their attempts to make required protective wear for the masses as stylish as possible. So many retailers are selling masks, from embellished to streamlined. Truly, the choices are endless.

In that spirit, I’d like to feature one of my favorite mask vendors on Etsy–HappyStarla. Since March, I have made three different purchases of her cloth masks–adding to her more than 15,000 sales. These masks are gentle on the face and ears and come in camouflage, leopard, polka dot, lace, metallic and bright color versions. They are also machine washable. While not the best choice for high-intensity exercise or humid climates, the HappyStarla masks are a fun choice right now.

New Shop on Depop

I’m super proud of my daughters for starting a new business venture during the pandemic! Launched on depop.com, their little online shop sells upcycled clothing along with their own creations. I’m not biased much, but they have a good eye and very distinct ideas on the aesthetic they want. It’s been very insightful for me, because here I think I have tons of knowledge in this area, but so far, all my suggestions haven’t met their strict criteria. But, I’m so happy they are learning the ins and outs of running a business–they already have several five-star reviews! Check it out if you are under 20 and can still show your abs in public!

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!

Send Mom a Free Louis Vuitton Card

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Leave it to Louis Vuitton to offer free e-cards for Mother’s Day! They are very elegant and feature adorable little graphics of the brand’s bags, trunks, logos, etc. A nice little way to send good wishes in the most stylish way. Here is the link: WELVMOMS

 

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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A Little Lounge Around Guide

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Loungewear is loving this quarantine. Shopping sites usually teaming with cozy pajamas and luscious lounge sets are more frequently showing “Out of Stock” or “Wait List.” And I’m not kidding, I think every woman in America has purchased leopard loungewear! They are not to be found anywhere! I think tie-dye is second and camo is third in the desired cuddle-up categories. But here are some stores and brands that still offer some nice selections. (Photo credit: @rw.studios on Unsplash)

Some Sites to Try:

Dillard’s – Thanks to my friend V, this was a great place to start. Many brands are on sale right now too.

Kohl’s – If you go through Rakuten on this site, you can get cash back. The styles are nice and at the end of the selections are several sports team versions.

Red Dress Boutique – A cute boutique out of Georgia with adorable, pricier loungewear (www.reddress.com)

Nordstrom – Always a good choice.

Bare Necessities – Never before have I been to this site, but some good options. barenecessities.com

A Few Brands to Search:

P.J. Salvage

Z Supply

 

Tucson Fashionista – Dolores Gonzales

Black and White Fashion Magazine Cover

Called the “Dior of the Desert” by the Los Angeles Times, Tucson designer Dolores Gonzales made a regional resort “it dress” that snared even First Ladies’ attention. In the 1940s and 50s, Gonzales designed one and two-piece dresses that featured a full, “broomstick” skirt and were made in bright, colorful fabrics. The style soon became a favorite during sorority rush at the University of Arizona and was eventually worn by First Ladies Mamie Eisenhower and Pat Nixon, according to The Tucson Sentinel and the Arizona Daily Star. Gonzales’ designs soon became a popular emblem of Western fashion. Though retail chain J.C. Penney wanted to sell her dresses, Gonzales refused, preferring to personally produce them in her own factory, according to the Star. Her distinctive designs have since been the subject of historical Tucson exhibitions.

Tucson Fashionista is an occasional and ongoing Zona Girl series on local women with legendary style.