Passionless Fashion

transforming our lives by transforming our wardrobes

Category Archives: special guest

Inspiration: Andi

Bina: Please welcome Andi Teran! (applause break) I met Andi back in the theatre department at the University of TX at Austin. She was a year ahead of me in the program, and I thought she was quite possibly the coolest girl I’d ever seen. Later, I had the pleasure of working with her on a few plays in New York, always admiring her from afar. For as long as I’ve known who Andi was, I have always thought of her as a force to be reckoned with. Her addictive zeal for life, acting, art, movies, writing, and style make her one of the most beautiful, passionate people I’ve ever had the privilege to come across.

We asked Andi if she would mind taking time out of her very busy schedule, which includes contributing to websites such as VanityFair.com and Vogue.com, and writing her own amazing blog, Verbose Coma (check it out, run don’t walk!), to tell us a little bit about what fashion and style mean to her, as well as what motivates and excites her. We love and admire the way that Andi has turned her passions into her career. She is truly inspirational.

Andi!

Andi: To the French poet and neck-ribbon aficionado (a man after my own heart) Charles Baudelaire who once said, “Style is character,” I must state that I firmly believe character is style. Whether innate or learned, whimsical or reserved, style is always a projection of the self. Some believe it to be an art form, others a philosophical statement, but to me, it is both a choice and a way of life. Also, let’s be honest, clothes are just really, really fun.

For the record, I believe that fashion and style are two entirely different peacocks. Fashion is new and now; style evolves over time. Fashion is chosen by a cognoscenti; style is dictated by the individual. Fashion fades; style is eternal. Now, I love fashion and have worked in and around it for years, but what I truly revere, what continues to speak to me when I open my closet doors every day, is my own style. That probably sounds totally pretentious, but it’s taken me awhile to get here. (Also, geez, I started with a Baudelaire quote! Gag me.)

I first learned about style from an Australian woman on CNN. Like every other third grader in suburban Texas, I watched cartoons on Saturday morning. One day, while flipping channels, I came across a woman with a severe black bob and red lipstick. She had on a pretty dress and spoke to me like I was a grown-up. With a backdrop of classical music, the kind I imagined played on loudspeakers all over France, this woman, Elsa, introduced me to designers who made crazy bright colored clothes for models who could punch bullies with their eyelashes. I was enchanted. Elsa went on and on about things like patterns and the importance of a great necklace in this calm, elegant way. It was unexpected, but from that Saturday forward, I stopped getting up for The Smurfs and made sure I was awake for Style with Elsa Klensch.

Soon after (the result of many impassioned pleas), my mom took me shopping for school clothes and agreed to let me put together an outfit of my choosing. I wanted something with an animal on it because I liked animals, but I also wanted to make Elsa proud. I chose a black, button-up shirt covered in giant orange and white striped zebras paired with Tang-orange baggy pants also covered in zebras, these in black and white—the yin to the shirt’s yang, if you will. I figured it would pass the fancy fashion test because the shirt had buttons (I was used to wearing t-shirts), and it had to be tucked into the trousers. I topped this ensemble with a dark sweater vest, remembering a recent designer on the show who had a penchant for wearing all black, and tipped it out with my favorite brown lace-up shoes. The look was what I considered safari superhero chic, and it made me feel powerful and transformed.

At school the next day, I was christened with a new nickname: “zebra head.” I hid during recess until the bell rang. Even my best friend—who always looked cute in pink and blonde—left me alone. I didn’t understand. My outfit made me feel good and was something I had put together myself. It was a long walk back to class, but somewhere on that dusty road of elementary fashion fallout, something had changed. A kindergartener passed us in the hall, pointed at my clothes and said, “I like your pants! I like zebras!” This restored my confidence. If only one person other than me liked my ensemble, that helped, yes, but I liked it, and this meant everything.

Today, I still wear animal prints as often as possible (leopard is always beatnik-y and classic). I like menswear mismatched with floral shirts and huge plastic accessories. I don’t care about labels but live for good construction. Elsa taught me that all you need is a simple outfit that fits well; you can then trick it out with fantastic accessories. The only things I save for are well-made, comfortable shoes that last (like leather oxfords which go with everything, look cute with dresses, and stand up to NYC concrete). Splurging on a black leather handbag that holds all your everyday stuff or investing in a classic, tailored black blazer is good, too. The one thing I’ve really learned on my own, though, is if it makes me feel fantastic when I put it on, then I know that it works.

I moved to New York City to be an actress (SO many costumes, SO many different people to dress up and be!), but if you’d told me I’d wind up working in fashion, that one day I’d attend fashion week (a lifelong dream) and meet some of the people profiled on Elsa’s show, I’d have passed out right then and there. I’ve seen all kinds of crazy “fabulosity”, but the people who have stood out from the crowd, the ones whose zebra pants I like the best, are always the ones just living their lives in outfits that illustrate who they are inside. Brave women who don’t give a toss if anybody thinks they look pretty or cool, like Isabella Blow and her crazy hats, or Daphne Guinness in feathers and Cruella hair. I’m obsessed with regal lady-bird Iris Apfel, an octogenarian who layers tons of necklaces atop loud tropical prints. I like women who take the time to care, as well as those who look like they aren’t trying at all (hi, Patti Smith). The point is, style begins with you. Never forget to outfit your inner superhero.

Special Guest: Kristin

Three cheers for K-rock. That’s what we all call her, you know, on account of her rocking so much. Since Kristin first learned about our project, she has been nothing but completely supportive and enthusiastic. We have truly appreciated that support from a friend. Kristin is someone you know you can trust, know will empathize with you, and know that you will always have a good time with.  We’re so excited she was inspired by our efforts to write a guest entry about her own experiences with fashion and passion. Thank you, Kristin!

Kristin: So after weeks of procrastinating, here I am, writing a post for Bina and Ena’s fashion blog – never thought I’d see myself type those words! It’s not that I don’t have a sense of style – I definitely have an affinity for pirate boots. (Hey, I like things with buckles!) It’s more that I don’t care, or maybe I should say didn’t care. However, after following these lovely ladies’ blog, I am inspired by their project to awaken inner passion by finding inspiration in what they wear. It’s not a project I would have thought to take on myself. I have always been a bit of a skeptic when it comes to the fashion industry – we’ve all seen some of the ridiculous ensembles that sashay down the runway, blurring the line between fashion and absurdity. After watching multiple seasons of Project Runway, I at least appreciate and respect fashion in an artistic sense. But I always felt that following fashion meant to blindly conform to society’s  idea of what’s hot and what’s not, ultimately stripping away a person’s individuality.

Young Dork in the Making

This idea may have developed in my impressionable middle school years at a private Baptist school in Texas. First of all, I could never get my bangs to do that late 80’s/early 90’s teased waterfall thing with the curling iron. And I hated the preppy look that all the cheerleaders and rich kids had with their Dooney & Burkes and Cole Haans – future Stepford Wives in the making. I never understood paying hundreds of dollars for a bag with a bunch of colored DB’s all over  it. (But then again, we all know what DB really stands for.) I was the girl that hung with the outcasts and weirdos, pairing my plaid skirt uniforms with Doc Marten imitations (my mom would never buy me the real ones), wearing enormous multi-colored hoop earrings, and listening to The Cult while my counterparts sang in the church choir. Sounds kind of cool and rebellious, right? Well with acne, braces, and a perm gone wrong, it didn’t exactly read Rebel Without a Cause. It was more like Dork Without a Clue. Needless to say, the pictures from those years are locked away in my parent’s closet never to see the light of day. (Mom, I’m talking to you.)

Once released from the clutches of middle school uniforms and prepdom, I went through high school wearing a lot of over-sized flannel (thank you Pearl Jam). I remember once I tried to look cute in some platform heels, but then I fell on my face in a hallway full of seniors my freshman year. These things scar, people! To this day, you will very rarely see me wear anything with heels, the evil contraptions. In college, things did not improve for me fashion wise. More times than I’d like to admit, I had to wake up early from a night of partying and race to make it to class on time. There were a lot of sweats and a tee-shirts in those days, and my hair was short and boyish. It was all about ease and comfort. Sure, there were times I dressed up, usually when I either had a hot date, or was trying to pass for 21 on 6th Street. I had three fake ID’s confiscated from me in college. Needless to say, my attempts were in vain.

My perspective finally began to shift post-graduation, when I met a dear friend while studying Shakespeare at LAMDA. I loved her eccentric and unique sense of style, from her giant fur hats and colorful scarves, to the over-sized granny sweaters she always managed to look good in. When I briefly lived with her and her husband in Manhattan, she would let me rifle through her overstuffed closet for clothing and accessories and marvel at her Prada heels. Knowing full well I would never spend that much on a pair of shoes, it was still fun to pretend – it was a little like playing dress-up. She taught me the correlation between fashion and joy – feeling good in what you wear – strutting down the crowded sidewalks of New York in a grandiose pair of sunglasses, an over-sized bag and a sundress. This, of course, was in the summertime. For the other half of the year, I looked like a Yeti. It’s just too cold to wear anything cute. The only person I know who still managed to rock style during the winters was Alexis. She is truly dedicated.

These days, living in Los Angeles, I can’t use harsh weather as an excuse to get me out of giving a rat’s ass about what I’m wearing. I don’t have a giant floor length comforter with a zipper on it to hide behind.  It’s more competitive out west, with a whole new set of rules. With warm weather nearly year-round, and the beach a stone’s throw away, you never know when you could be forced to don a bikini in a house party hot tub. You are constantly surrounded by beauty, whether it be gorgeous weather, or gorgeous people. After a while, it gets to you. You size people up, compare your waist size to others, analyze your stretch marks, frown at your love handles while trying on bathing suits in the Target dressing room. It’s ridiculous but true. Lucky for me, I have my boyfriend Chris to bring me back down to earth, tell me I look beautiful with no makeup, slumming around the apartment in a pair of boxers and a 15 year old Dare tee-shirt with holes in the armpits. So I’m grateful for that – the support, not the armpit holes.

But at the end of the day, the cliché is true: women dress for other women. I feel like it tears us apart as a species, but maybe that’s just survival of the fittest out here in the wild wild west. It’s a vicious cycle of competition, especially in the “industry,” which is maybe one of the reasons I decided to bow out as an actor, at least for the time being. After years of auditioning, trying you’re damnedest to secure 2 lines on a commercial, smiling and networking until the corners of your mouth ache, walking into a room with 50 other girls who look very much like you and are wearing the exact same thing as you, dealing with some bitter queen-y casting director who obviously needs to get laid – one day I just had enough. It was making me feel like a whore, and not a pretty Julia Roberts whore.  I realized that I had lost my individuality and that I was missing something – ah yes, my soul. And so… I gave up? That is the question I struggle with these days. On one hand, it feels good to be free from the obligations and stress of trying to work as an actor, but on the other hand, something is missing. It’s what I have done my whole life, so now what? Some days I just want to go through life dressed like The Dude, in the big white (and very soft) bathrobe Chris gave me for Christmas last year.  Wrap myself up in a cocoon, drink White Russians all day, stop shaving my legs, and take life as it comes.  It’s a very Zen idea of living.  And very tempting.

It’s been over a year now since I’ve stopped pounding the pavement, and I can’t say that the time away has made me want to go back. Even though I am going through the post-30 “what the hell am I going to do with my life now” phase, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – I occasionally submit myself for projects that actually sound interesting and fun, not because I feel like I have to in order to “make it”.  If I make it, great.  But I’m not going to make myself miserable trying. Life is too short, and I don’t want to go through it feeling like art is an obligation. I relish the things that bring me happiness, that make me feel joyful. Which brings me back to fashion. Today at work, I am making my coworker take a picture of me for the blog, so I dressed up a bit. This has brought an onslaught of comments from nearly everyone walking through the door, which is good but also kind of weird for me.  I don’t like to be checked out or hit on, which is probably why I never dress up. But at the same time, I also feel good about myself.  Hearing the click-clack of my boots echoing down the hallway, listening to the jingle of bracelets and seeing a hint of the feather tucked in my hair – I feel vibrant and alive. I swing my hips a little. I look up and smile. I connect with others. I feel powerful and pretty. It feels good to feel pretty, and to me, that’s what fashion is about. Will I be subscribing to In Style anytime soon? Probably not. I will always be a bit of a tomboy at heart. But I do have an appreciation for the classics: a simple black dress, the perfect accessory, a pair of nylons with a line up the back. I love black, bold color, sound and texture, and a little bit of rock and roll. What I’m wearing today encapsulates who I am, and an outfit my friends have seen me in multiple times, with different accessories – this time with my new peacock feather tights from Etsy that I loooove. Which reminds me, I really need to go shopping. Perhaps we can make a date to go to shopping, ladies? Because it feels good to look good.

Kristin