Wednesday, October 06, 2010

I'm going to rebuild my wardrobe (eventually). My Style Inspiration: Shala Monroque

Despite having no money, I've been pulling photos from magazines and fashion/design blogs as I dream about rebuilding my wardrobe.

I was having dinner with an expat friend. Like me, she also lived in Los Angeles before moving to Rome. I told her most of my clothes are too casual for Rome and for my age.

When I moved to Los Angeles from New York City, I had a lot of black (of course) and winter clothes in my closet. It was all wrong for sunny Southern California.

The style of the two coasts couldn't be more different. However, one positive thing about moving West was, I started to add more color to my wardrobe. With my dark complexion certain brights, yellows, blues, greens, really pop. When I would wear white (rare as it gets dirty quickly) my friends/colleagues would always compliment me.

Black was a uniform for me and my co-workers when I lived in NYC. It was easy and flattering (so I thought).

My L.A. wardrobe was all over the map and not in a good way. My body and L.A. "fashion" do not mix. I can't wear cute cammies over skinny jeans as my large breasts are real and therefore I need a bra. I think it's weird to see women in their 50s dressing like teenagers. I get it though. The pressure in L.A. to look like a member of "The Hills" is unrelenting.

Now, I'm ten years older and living in a city that's closer to NYC than L.A. when it comes to fashion. I have yet to see an Italian woman or man in the supermarket wearing pajama bottoms.

Thanks to the "Jersey Shore", people think people from Jersey dress like Snooki and Jwwow (even though both of them are from Upstate New York).

That was not the case in Verona, New Jersey, where I went to junior high and high school. It was the 80s and the most popular style was preppy. Sure there were a few girls who had super big hair but looking through my yearbook, there was a lot of L.L. Bean and Izod. And the Madonna influence. Some girls would combine both.

Someone said "Style is what you have, not what you buy." Fashion is different from style. A stylish persons looks great regardless of what is going on in fashion. They know what looks good on their body.

I wasn't sure what the hell my style was when was in L.A. During the move to Rome I had to seriously downsize. Then I realized my style is Classic/Eclectic, bigger emphasis on Classic. While I can appreciate minimalism, it doesn't work for my short, curvy body. Bohemian can dwarf me, or make me look like I'm wearing a costume.

As I get older I have more confidence to embrace color and my Caribbean roots have definitely influenced me. This bring me to Ms. Monroque. It seems like she's everywhere lately. Vogue (American and international editions), Harper's Bazaar, fashion blogs, etc.

Shala's from St. Lucia and moved to New York ten years ago. The editor-at-large of POP Magazine has great style. She was rocking turbans before they became "on trend". I adore turbans and wanted to get one for years but worried I would look like Mrs. Roeper. Having a short natural, there are days I am so sick of my hair.

I would wear scarves once in a while in L.A. but felt like I stood out too much. Now I don't care. I don't have a weave so I will never fit in there anyway.

Shala travels a lot for work and was the talk of the town during last year's fashion weeks. Her boyfriend is influential art dealer Larry Gagosian.

It's fantastic how she mixes high end designers like Prada and Hermes with vintage she finds on Ebay.

Here's a LINK to the Style Spotlight blog with some photos.

I love, love, love, the white and yellow Prada skirt, the red dress and the black outfit at the top of the page.

I started to write down the things I need to get my wardrobe together. Number one is a single-breasted trench coat. They're not easy to find and I can't wear double-breasted. Wait, I'm broke, I can't buy one now anyway.

Also, I'm going figure out how to wear heels on cobblestone streets. I have a few pairs of great shoes I don't wear in Rome. They're just sitting there in their boxes. Sad.


This Time Now said...

Shala! She's always interesting to watch. She knows what looks good on her. She dresses for her body and it just works every time. I've seen a lot of articles instructing women how to dress like the Italians, Parisians, it's all so passe. Europe is all about tailoring and wearing quality materials. I too need a new wardrobe, for the first time in my life, I will go to a tailor (in NYC and/or Rome) and be fitted for suit, trois piece bien sure. Am so not concerned with what's "on trend" (god I hat that term). Do you, and you'll always look and be stylish.

Simone said...

Pulling images is great. Do it for a few weeks and then pick one day to sit and see how many times you pulled the same colors, shapes and styles and there's your style!

This is the list I have been using to narrow my wardrobe - A great pant suit, A straight and an a-line skirt that flatter and compliment the jackt, a men's style dress shirt, a flirty blouse that can go to dinner, the perfect white t-shirt, one long and one short sleeved, a v-neck cashmere sweater, 1 dress that moves from day to dinner to evening with accessories, 1 evening-OMG dress, 1 evening top that goes with skirts and pants, 1 raincoat, 1 great dress coat, preferably wool wrap, 1 pair of dark jeans, 1 Hermes like scarf -everything has to compliment each other.

It's the accessories that kill - I haven't met a shoe or bag, on sale of course, that I can say no to..and don't get me started on the scarves and costume jewelry :|.

GOOD LUCK!! Keep us posted!

homebody at heart said...

I'm sure you'll find something that looks just great on you. Just repeat to yourself "all good things in the universe come to me" just before you go to sleep. It works for me!

homebody at heart said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention. Taxis, girl, taxis. When you wear those stilleto heels, take a taxi!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

TTN - I also like how Shala wears her hair. Sometimes it's a TWA, other times she blows it out. Regarding those articles, I agree, it's all about the fit. I'm going to write a post about that AHA moment. I can't worry about trends either. I don't have the body or budget.

simone - exactly. I do see a patten emerging. I like your staples. I feel you on the scarves and other accessories. My mom used to get on my case for not wearing necklaces, now I'm always stopping to look in store windows.

homebody - thanks for the advice!

This Time Now said...

I have foie gras taste on a foie gris budget...for now. I just watched a movie about James Dean starring James Franco (um, why can't I meet him and marry him today?) and I loved the clothes, the stripe tees and sweaters, the waist jacket but most of all I love how the pants just flowed. Great stuff. The thing that really caught my eye was the cut of the hair. I've always wanted that James Dean, David Bowie cut, you know, long on the top, short on the sides. I'm afraid that I might come off butch though, which is so not the vibe I'm trying to project. HA!

Arlynes said...

hii! i've been lurking for ages loove your blog!
anyways, I used to live in Roma and I had the same issue with the sanpietrini and the heels... until i just realised: 1) splurge on the taxi like someone else mentioned and 2) even if i go in the taxi the heels are going to get messed up and the leather will tear and it will be a disaster. but at least you looked nice :)
also maybe get a comfy insole to soften your step.
good luck on your wadrobe re-do!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

TTN - Yes, the champagne tastes on a ginger ale budget is problematic. ha

arlynes - thanks for reading and commenting! Some of my shoes have insoles. They do help.

coco cooks said...

So after our convo, and you mentioning turbans, I found some in Stockholm at a store. Naturally I bought one and wear it everyday. Love it!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

coco cooks - perhaps we'll see a photo on your blog?

Idara said...

I thought I was the only who has been wondering where in the heck did this woman (Ms. Monroque) come from? LOL- she is seemingly everywhere! I do enjoy her style, but I am even more intrigued with the question of how one becomes an "it" girl? Is a wealthy, White boyfriend required? I started wearing headties in the early 90s in college and through law school (as a nod to my Nigerian-American heritage) and was on the receiving end of all sorts of questions ranging from whether I was undergoing chemo to whether I was Muslim (No and No). I sadly even had to cut back on wearing them after 9/11 because getting through security checkpoints was becoming quite the hassle...sigh- but back to the "it" factor- would really like to know how it comes about, not necessarily that I would want my well-being dependent on someone else's bank book- but, gosh darn it, Shala' clothes are kicking!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Idara - Hello...I would like to know as well! Remember Genevieve Jones? Now she's designing high end jewelry. I'm assuming having a very successful, high profile boyfriend doesn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

I've been having a crisis of wardrobe too. No money and shopping , especially for pants, here makes me want to cry. Curvy Puerto Rican booty just does not fit in xxs super slim. No lie that was a size in store I was just in. Thank God for leggings and long sweaters.

I'm trying to get back to basics and get rid of the stuff that I don't wear. Easier said than done. You don't want to get rid of things when you don't have any money right? To be honest the amount of things in my closet that I like and look good on my is pretty small, but it would be just too sad to have just those few things hanging in there. Oh to have to perfect closet.

BlackGirl said...

I've got a similar wish/plan to revamp my wardrobe and find an expressive style of my own in the coming year--budget permitting.

The Czech Republic is not fashion-forward by any stretch. The advantage of this is that my casual look has saved me money. However, I've grown tired of my "uniform" (jeans) and I want to start dress for the woman I am and the slammin' body I've got! Ha. ;)

Never heard of Monroque; but her ensembles are unique and inspiring. And I have to agree with one of your commentors--accessories make a difference.

Do you check out the Sartorialist blog? It can be useful for style watching. Hope you'll be posting pictures of your transformation/tips. Cau.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

sm - I hear you. Clothes here are cut so small!

bg - yes I do read that site. It's one of my favorites along with his girlfriend's (Garance Dore).