Passionless Fashion

transforming our lives by transforming our wardrobes

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Day 100 – Wednesday

Ena and Bina - Day 100!

Ena - Day 100

Ena: So today, for the grand finale, I thought I’d show you all something you’ve never seen before – my knees.  Wow.  With the exception of Day 1 which is in its own league of disaster, today has been the most challenging for me.  From the moment I left my house, I have been extremely self-conscious and nervous to the point of light-headedness.  I have also caught myself feeling defensive and confrontational (feelings made worse by the dozens of onlookers present at today’s photo shoot), as though preparing for a fight.  But, as uncomfortable as I am today, this outfit represents a big step for me and I am so glad that I was able to find the courage to wear it by Day 100.

As a segue into this final post, and as a way of elaborating on a point that I was trying to make but had to rush through in order to get to 826LA on time (it was fantastic, by the way – everything I had hoped), I would like to revisit the last paragraph of yesterday’s post.  I’m not sure that I properly articulated my reason for sharing my meltdown anecdote and I don’t want there to be any confusion.  I suppose that learning, especially this close to the end of our project, that I at times still feel directionless, hopeless, and less than satisfied with my life could lead to the assumption that I failed in my mission to become a more happy, successful, and passionate person.  That simply could not be further from the truth.

I am most certainly a happier and more passionate person today than I was prior to beginning this project, there is no doubt about that.  I have found two volunteer projects that I am incredibly passionate about and that I plan to support for many years.  As for success, I may not have achieved all that I hope for yet, but I am now even more confident that someday I will.  My reason for sharing the anecdote was to illustrate that, far from being indicative of failure, Monday’s episode solidified for me the universal nature of momentary meltdowns.  This project has taught me that the brief lapse in sanity I experienced is in no way symptomatic of deficiency, it’s symptomatic of life.

This project has also taught me that I can accomplish anything, that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.  Not to get too cheesy (or too plagiarize-y), there is a line from the book Eat, Pray, Love that sums up exactly how I feel about what I have learned over the course of this project.  In the book, the author writes, “I remember an old catholic joke about a man who spent his whole life going to a church every day and prayed to the statue of a great saint begging ‘please, please, please, let me win the lottery.’ Finally the exasperated statue comes to life and looks down at the begging man and says ‘my son, please, please, please, buy a ticket.’ So now I get the joke.”  And now so do I.

So, to wrap up, I would like to thank my friends and family for their overwhelming love and support; despite my initial reservations about sharing this part of my life, this project would have been a lot less fun (and challenging, and embarrassing, and humiliating, and…) without you.  I would also like to thank all of our readers (turns out we have more than five after all) for their encouraging comments, and for not judging us too harshly.  And, finally, I would like to thank Bina without whose unparalleled powers of persuasion I would have never, ever, ever participated in a harebrained scheme like this and without whom I would not have become the person I am today.  Thank you all for sharing this journey with me.

Bina - Day 100

Bina: My doubt regarding this blouse began to creep in when I was checking out at the Goodwill. The cashier looked at the tag and asked me, “Did you get this from the pajama section?” Um, no, no ma’am, I did not. Regardless, I took it home and it has been hanging and looking at me from the closet. This morning, it was now or never. The blouse was the base of my outfit today and I tried to build everything around it; I took one last look at myself in the mirror and thought “pajama top” but then thought “to hell with it” and walked out of the house.

As I entered the gate at work, I stole a glance at my reflection in a nearby window; I was startled by a man’s voice, “You look perfect.” Caught in the act, I laughed and said, “Thanks!” to the dude lounging on a cart, and I walked with a little more bounce in my step. I picked out this drape-y blouse because I was enamored with the minty-blue-green color, and the shape reminded me of Kim Basinger’s 80s blouses in 9 ½ Weeks –  remember when I was infatuated with that movie’s looks?  Anyway, here I am, in my Day 100 outfit, and I don’t care if it’s a pajama top or not, I love it.

Look, we all know I’ve worn some pretty crazy-ass shit to work over the course of this project. But it was totally worth it because I’ve learned so much about my style and myself in the process.  I tried lots of new things – like Tahitian dancing, volunteer dog-walking, reading to children, meditation, yoga. And I revisited some old things – like screenwriting and theatre. I feel a little bit like I just ran a marathon; though, obviously, I know this doesn’t really compare, I feel drained from all of the emotional introspection. I started this blog with a bit of a broken heart and a broken spirit, and I feel extremely proud that I stand here today, wearing the ultimate accessory – a smile. Looking back on some of the scarier days is hard for me, but I think it’s somewhat educational. And I’ve grown and changed so much in the last 5 months. Sometimes now in the middle of cleaning the kitchen, I’ll strike a yoga pose and meditate for a few minutes. To you, that may sound totally granola and hippie, and I agree, it is, but, hey, what’s a girl who is part Buddhist/part Hindu warrior to do?

Did we achieve what we set out to accomplish? In my eyes, yes. I think somewhere along the way this turned into something bigger than I had anticipated. While it started as a way for us to learn about style and try new things, it became something more – a journey of self-discovery, if you will.  Sometimes it was a trip down memory lane; sometimes it was a place to vent; sometimes it was a place to report on our gingerbread house.

I’d have to say one of the most important things I learned from all this is discipline. I learned to commit to something, and I learned to finish something I started. Now, I find myself reinvigorated and inspired – ready to tackle the next thing and finish that, too. And, sometimes, you find inspiration in the strangest places. For instance, last night, in typical Hollywood fashion, I found myself in an intimate screening room with my friend Alexis and Bradley Cooper . . . yadda yadda yadda . . . when I got home, I opened my laptop and got back to work.

*Thank you so much for reading and sharing this time in our lives with us.


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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.

Day 28 – Friday

Ena - Day 28

Ena: Today I’m wearing a flannel shirt, and though you may be tempted to label me a hipster, I’d rather you didn’t.  I like to think of this look as neo-grunge because I am old enough to have taken part in flannel’s last heyday during the 1990s, and because I am not a hipster.  If you can’t get on board with neo-grunge, then how about lumberjack chic?  It has a certain ring I think.

I am fairly happy with my look today, however I am having a rather difficult time with my pants.  There is quite a bit of gaping and stretching happening around my knees that looks very odd and is getting on my nerves.  I suppose I could have – and probably should have – worn leggings of some sort, but then there’s the butt problem.  Don’t pretend that you don’t know what I mean.  Leggings are pretty difficult to pull off, especially if you are wearing a short or short-ish top and are not exceptionally fit.  Jeans are much more forgiving, and, as such, are usually my first choice even if they are not the best choice.

Today begins what is supposed to be over a week of rainy days here in Los Angeles, which would be fine if it weren’t interfering with my plans.  Prior to beginning this project I had been working on another one also designed to help me spice up my life and find my passion…or at least a hobby.  I created a “30 things to do before I’m 30 (or there about)” list, and this weekend I was supposed to resume my efforts.  Along with a few others, Bina and I were going to walk from my house to an archery range along the Arroyo Seco River and take a free archery class.  Now, I don’t know if archery will become my passion or my hobby, but I am sure that archery in the rain will become neither.

Bina - Day 28

Bina: Call me crazy, but I adore this weather.  It’s the start to a drizzly, rainy, chilly weekend in Los Angeles, and I love it.  Maybe that’s why I have such an affinity in my heart for Seattle, and for some of the best months of my life thus far spent in Juneau, Alaska.  I have perhaps never felt more at home in any city than I did in Juneau.  Of course, my time in Juneau was emotionally heightened because I fell in love with the musical director of the theatre where I was working as an actor – what a cliché, right?  But I do know that I fell in love with the city before I fell in love with the inappropriately young guy who had so much passion for me that he talked me into having a long-distance relationship and then months later would eventually break my heart because it was too hard, he was too young and ambitious, we were too far apart, etc.

Here’s the thing.  I know that I am at my most attractive when I am happy.  Who isn’t?  It’s always when I’m feeling happy to be independent and single, when I’m doing the things I love for myself, that someone will come along and see me in all my glory and want to be with me.  This has happened countless times. No great mystery about it.  It’s just how the world and people work.  But the problem is my inability to continue “loving” myself once I get into the relationship.  As soon as I’m crazy about someone, my whole world becomes about them.  I take on my role as a caregiver and a pleaser, and I lose myself and my sparkle.  The same sparkle that drew them to me in the first place.  I hate it.  I’ve lost myself so many times now that I just feel dull and tired.  I want to find my sparkle again, dammit, and when I do, I’m not going to lose it or let anyone take it away.

Now you’d think with the number of times I just used the word “sparkle” that I’d be wearing something sparkly today.  I’m not. But I am wearing a belt of bird feathers, so that’s something.  The pictures point out to me that my tunic is very easily a wrinkled mess but that’s okay.  Because the other thing I’m wearing in today’s photos that has been fairly absent for a while – an honest-to-goodness smile.