Fashion Behind Bars

In an article published on The Campus Socialite, I am quoted in saying, "Fashion is a choice you make every morning about you who want to be. It’s an area of life to be expressive."  I truly believe this and here in the United States, fashion is often synonymous with choice.  Fashion is free. Style is for the individual.  Good fashion, expressive fashion, is the kind of fashion declaring "here-i-am-world' which is better than a walking facebook page. Your style is louder than your status.  It declares who you are, what you're about, and typically what kind of day you're having.  Bad test?  Finals? We can tell dear. Your pants have five day old coffee stains.  Nontheless, what if all this was taken from you?  What if you couldn't reach for those X stretchy sweats when that time of the month arrived?  What if when you needed luck you couldn't reach for that bracelet that you swear gave you the past two A's you've received?

What if your entire wardrobe was gone and all you were handed was a jumpsuit.

How do you manage the fundamentals of fashion when bold stripes lock you into conformity?  The bars stretched along your body are the same bars you have to peer through to get a glimpse at the impending freedom that gives you hope.  Fashion behind bars supposedly has ceased to exist, as in terms of American inmates, they forfeit not only their liberties but also any means of separating themselves from their prison peers in terms of clothing, makeup, or hair.  For the most part, you are no longer known for your favorite scarf, signature fohawk, or leather jacket. You are known for the jumpsuit you wear everyday (which do vary in colors and stripes between prisons, yet regardless, you are forced to match your new roommates). You are known as a number, and when it comes to fashion the only numbers that count are the prices.  Body art is their only chance at stating their style, as their crimes sentence them not only to isolation, but also to a commune of communism.  Everyone is the same.   You are no different than the person next door or across the way.
Can you imagine? For those of you who have read 1984 I know you are cringing beside your laptop.

A good friend of mine, Mary, facilitates Art Workshops at the prison by her university and in speaking with me, she told me a small instance that I have not been able to shake.  In reading this, please mind that I am not condoning committing crimes.  Everything has consequences.  I am just reflecting on a part of our society that often gets locked away with the people we sentence. 

The other day at one of her workshops, one of her regular students, after finishing their painting assignment allowed for a look of frustration to shadow his once illuminated face.  His eyebrows pushed up against one another and with a gentle sweep, he removed his prison shirt.  Sporting a generic white tee shirt underneath, he laid half his uniform on the floor and took a big paint brush and white paint to the number that had replaced his birth given name.  Swiftly and calmly he painted over the numbers that chronicled his arrival and departure from this hell of a home.  Mary watched him and unable to cover her shock remarked, "Oh my god-really?"  He looked up at her with a new sense of self and replied, "Yup, Really." In that moment, Mary understood that this wasn't an act of rebellion, vengeance, or juvenile antics.  This was a reach for self-definition.  This was an act of stylization and the need to say--this is what I'm wearing and this is how it reflects the thoughts in my head.  At the request of Mary, he cleaned up the paint that had dripped off his still wet shirt onto the floor.  She couldn't help but remark in retelling me her experience, "What a badass Fashionisto."

After hearing this, I knew I had to write.  If this doesn't illustrate the power of creativity and how innate it comes to all human beings--I do not know what will convince you.  You cannot put fashion behind bars.  Fashion is fastidious, fashion is fluid...it will forever exist unconstrained from all social norms and regulations.  All people crave the choice that I opened with in this post...the choice to choose who they want to be every morning.  As silly as it sounds...the choice between jeans or leggings.  Why?  Because clothes are what you live your life in--they are what you are seen in, they are what you breathe in.

Previously, I have always imagined fashion as it exists on city sidewalks, racy runways, and high profile people. But fashion does not discriminate, just as words do not choose their speaker, a pair of jeans do not choose the legs they cover. 




Musical Fashionistas

Fashion & Music is the most beautiful love story ever told. Sure they have their disagreements, but fashion and music are the two constants in my life that never cease to bring me solace and help center my 21 year old soul. Starbucks doesn't hurt either.  I hear all these girls talking about their meditation moments and all I want to do is hand them a Starbucks gift card.  The answer to your problems lies in a Soy Chai my dear. Enjoy!  Nonetheless, I would be nowhere if it weren't for the inspiration to live on that is conveyed from a beautiful faux fur vest or Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance."  I mean what girl doesn't hear that song and wants to find Lady Gaga and give her a massive high five? I sure do.
And then I want to ask her for my diary back.  Because that's alittle uncool Gaga.

Anyway I've compiled a list of the Top 10 Things we can learn from these Musical Fashionista's whose words have not only guided me, inspired me, but also showed the yes-s and no-s of fashion media.  Here we examine the fashion & music love child which we all know as The Music Video.

1. We R Who We R
--Thank you Ke$ha for reminding us that glitter on the eyes is always a go.  Also, ripping your stockings from Target? Done. You validate my inability to own a pair of pantyhose without a snare. Classiness is for the daytime.  The night is for superstars. You need to be yourself and in being yourself you need to channel Madonna's 1st album cover. We're going hard...as in hardcore for you rip-less stocking-wearing folk.

2. Bad Romance
--Gaga gave us back Go-Go boots.  Now we little monsters can click clack about the college halls creating our own musical fashion with black, white, or red mega heels.  The white 'Putty Monster' looking ensemble seems a bit concerning as I really don't get how her dancers see, but you are Gaga and I shall not doubt thee. In fact, Gaga thank you for wearing a sexified outfit in which you show your ex factor what is up.  Nothing says 'haha you lose' like a gold plated dress.
And btw girl, can I borrow that Diamond outfit?

3. Oops.. I Did It Again
--Britney forgot that grown up unitards are a big oops. But you know what? She owns it and her mistake is not making a guy fall in love with her for fun.  No. No. It is that red freaking unitard.
Its ok Britney, at least you tried again right?  And as far as the 'thinking you're from above' bit, last time I checked, the angels I believe in don't wear bump-its.

4. Better Than Revenge
--I usually go with looking fabulous to get revenge. But when you only wear cowgirl boots & sundresses... writing a song about how your ex's new gf is a complete ho works just as well. 

5. Can't Be Tamed
--With a good can of hairspray and an adequate straightener... your hair actually can be tamed Miley.  I love a good feathered headband as much as the next girl but-- bird wings?  Were they the same ones used for Black Swan?

6. Jar of Hearts
--Christina Perri, I just absolutely adore you. Your torn vintage wedding gown and untied combat boots are simply a fashion yes.  Your black dangling earrings are reminiscent of an 80's revival that I fully support.  Your look is one of blissful imperfection that just exudes the raw honesty that plays the heartstrings of the little emo inside all of us.  Your video promotes this 'Girl-Power' revolution that I can't help but sing along to.  Ms. Perri's style displays such Fashionista royalty as she illustrates that accessories don't stop at jewelry but rather extends towards the art of tattoo mania. 

7. California Gurls
--Is this song about Cali or Candy Land?  Give Princess Lolly & Queen Frostine their clothes back Katy Perry! King Kandy is not pleased.

8. What the Hell
--I applaud Avril because this song is just a great message for Fashionistas.  What the hell is obviously what she thinks as she gets dressed, and in all sincerity, I think more of us need to do this too.  Not everyone is gonna like your look, but you know what--what the hell?!   All your life 'you've been good but now'...rock it out.

9. Only Girl (In The World)
--As Rihanna sports various fashion eras throughout this video, she stays consistent in the displaying the one thing that makes her shut down any other girls who might compete for her title.  And that is confidence.  No Confidence...no Fashionista... no Style.  Think about this, you hear about someone sporting flaming firetruck red hair and cerulean blue eyelids.  What do you think of?
Bet it's not Rihanna.
And yet Rihanna makes blue eye shadow fantabulous because she looks us straight in the eye and says: Blue Eyeshadow is back... and my red hair is the perfect shade.

10. Take It Off
--Ke$ha the only reason I want you taking off your clothes is to take a shower.  Girl I love your grunge but even the trash can requires a new bag.  The glitter is getting a little crusty and taking it off may the best idea you've ever had.  But just so you know--your music has inspired the animal inside me and I actually do find myself more open to animal prints.  So thank you for that Ke$ha, thank you.

There you have it friends.  The top 10 songs that have something more to say than just the lyrics.

Until next time...



Sisterhood of Yogies

During my winter break I must say my fashion opportunities have been lessened. I mean, my mother is not going to care what new fashion discovery I made while going through my walk-in.  No, while at home I am more excited about the next Lifetime movie.  After all...this is my last winter break.  After this--no more vacas. No more 'freedom' and no more 'I have nothing to do for three weeks.'  How people survive outside of academia I am about to find out. But surely in the name of humanity there should exist some sort of winter break so that all people, both students and the rest of America can enjoy the freeing bliss that is called Winter Break

Now as a self declared leader of Fashion,  I try and live up to my fashionista morals when I'm out & about. But being home in the burbs has me thanking the man who invented Yoga Pants.  And yes, a man invented yoga pants.  From my research the man among men who decided to give both men and women a beautiful thing to enjoy is Ryan McLatchy. Don't quote me on it but that's the word of Google.  Which we all know, may as well be a prophet who electronically descended to answer all of life's questions.  I actually find myself googling about various life situations.  Idk if I'm alone in this but I've asked Google questions that vary from relationship advice to how ride a motorcyle.  I suppose asking the people of youtube.com would be more beneficial (as they could literally give me advice and guidance via video) but really and truly, I'm a Google kind of gal.

To Mr. McLatchy I convey my biggest thanks for not only a pair of pants that give me 24 hour comfort but also makes me drop two pant sizes in about the three seconds it takes to slip them on. 

Not only that, but yoga pants give any girl's bottom a little boost and carves out your legs as if you just left the gym.  Just today my favorite Starbucks barista, who happens to be a close friend, remarked as I strolled in, "KB...you been workin out girl?"  Why yes Frank I have been...IN MY YOGA PANTS. Seriously where have these pants been my whole life?!  Every morning during winter break my beloved A&F jeans (don't judge-they are my fav of all time. sorry true religion.) look at me as if to say...um...haven't heard from ya in a while...wanna catch up?  My reply to this sad and neglected plea is... you see... I would...but I've got this new great thing going on...and they make me look skinny.
So in trading in my true blues, I'm also celebrating my New York-er nature of loving everything black.  So now not only am I a skinny mcgee, but helloooo miss edgy!  Sometimes I even find myself putting on my COACH shades, rocking a messy hair bun, a pair of yogies...and voila...
I could be Nicole Richie for all you know.

That's the thing about coming home to the suburbs.  To dress how I do downtown here just makes me look like a pretentious brat.  Whereas downtown fashion forward is basically dress code.  We all know that the only time any of us make a real effort (while at home) with our style saviness is when you hit the local restaurants, bars, movie theater, diner, or revisit your old high school.  Why?  Because you need to show your old high school friends that you were the exception to the "she's gonna gain 30 lbs. in college rule." You didn't get gross and let frat party fun become a horrible show stopper.  In fact, you still wear your old jeans from back in the day and you're looking even better at 21 than you did at 18.  Throw a pair of yoga pants in there and girl...you. are. unstoppable.

Oh Yoga pants. Now there's a pair of pants that I would start a sisterhood about. Traveling pants? No.
Sisterhood of Yoga pants?  Sign me the freak up.




Jewelry, I like like to think, is the most personal of all accessories.  You've got the promise ring your boyfriend gave you after four months.  You've got the necklace your ex gave you to say sorry for cheating.  You've have your grandmother's earrings after she died.  And lastly, you've got the friendship bracelet you and your best friend exchanged last summer and its still hanging onto your ankle by a thread.  Life in 2011 has been pretty eventful for me and I even found myself facebook chatting someone last night saying, "i feel like i just became a grown up." For me, this means having a movie moment. 

A "movie moment" is a still in time where you're doing something, saying something, seeing something--that if it got camera time would have been the crux of an Oscar-winning film.  Fashion has movie moments all the time, us Fashionistas are a dramatic breed. Whenever I wear a really great outfit and become a show stopper at the local bar...everyone stares (even the boys who pretend I just happen to walk into their line of vision)--its a total movie moment.  But movie moments don't just stop there.  It can be getting rid of something or letting something go.  For example, throwing an old necklace into the river...then coming to realize the river is frozen because, well you're in the mid-west and it's flippin frozen. Failure?  Nah. Movie moment.  For those of us who pray to the Fashion gods above...movie moments are how we live. Normal people take an emotion and have lunch date with it, maybe even go out for drinks after. Myself?  I sleep with an emotion for days, I explore it, I get to know it...and I use it. Dramatic?  Perhaps.  But I'm not quite sure how having a good dram-fest got a bad reputation. Life is too short to put your emotions and thoughts in a box and deal with them when no one will text you back.

So back to my movie moment and the concept of jewelry.  Jewelry, if I'm allowed to say, are the Taylor Swift songs of the fashion realm.  I don't own one piece of a jewelry that a Taylor Swift song can't go to.  Every piece of jewelry I own has heartfelt meaning. Why? Well I think it's because jewelry is something you wear so close to your body.  Every accessory in the jewelry family is worn right on your skin, so close to your heart, resting on your spirit.  So, it makes sense that a departure with pieces of jewelry (whose T-Swift song has now ended) is a marker of a cleanse. The beginning of a new memory and an opportunity for a new accessory to take its place.  Of course there are the pieces we have to keep forever, for to part with them would break us and shatter beautiful memories. But there are those pieces, those necklaces, rings, or bracelets, that weigh us down. And since those are the pieces where the clasp never breaks, you need to take it off yourself and throw it back into the world.
Is it sad? Of course. But I'm learning that in growing up, you can't take your whole teenage aged closet with you. Some of it needs to go back out so that you have the closet room and jewelry box space for those new and exciting pieces that are undoubtedly coming your way.

KB all grown up? We'll see folks. We'll see :)




Prepster Turned Rocker? All of the Above.

One of my guilty pleasures? 

Spending hours looking and analyzing at how my fashion sense has evolved over the years.  This has to be one of my favorite aspects of fashion and developing one's own individual style.  From my early years of wearing eighteen necklaces at one time to preschool (classic.) to my black nail polish days of suburban girl rebellion...my style has moved all over the map with me in my life.  I love how when you look at someone, there's those little hints of the old style that once was.  When you look at how someone dresses, you're really looking at a still painting of their life and what they've been through.  From tattoos, to the color nail polish they prefer, and always the signature pieces that make ensemble...you're really looking at a flip book of how they came to be.  No one is born with good style.  Sure there were always those girls who showed up in first grade with perfect hair and the newest Lise Frank lunchbox...but this wasn't created by their own means.  This was the luck of having a Mom or Dad, or whoever, who valued these things and tried to steer their precious baby into a predestined mold.  Being 21 now, I wish I could strut back into my first grade days and show them how much of a Fashionista I grew up to be and how your childhood fashion sense (unless you're Willow Smith) isn't really something that says much about you. Sure there's always exceptions, for example I still hate turtle necks, but for the most part, from the age of 10 & under--style is marked more by your age than your preference.

My favorite photos of myself from my past are the ones from High School.  Here is where KB began to take flight from the AE tee shirts and jeans that I was always so fond of.  They were 'cool' enough to enable a good status in the High School Hierarchy, but comfortable enough where I really didn't have to think too hard about what I was wearing every morning.  I began to branch out in my junior year  into this rocker scene where black was the 'WoW' of any illustrated outfit. I was in the beginning of my first 'love' relationship and he stood for everything I was not.  Here was little prepster KB dating an emo-inspired artist who used permanent markers as the 'new' nail polish. My 17 year old self  was completely intrigued.

I remember taking my first pay check from my first job (Jewel Osco Bagger...maybe that's why I value a good tote so much) and with the help of my best friend Sarah, spent way over my budget on a whole new wardrobe for my whole new life.  The staples?  Black hoodies, dangly earrings with a statement, and black nail polish (markers just never worked for me--go figure).  Little by little this little AE girl grew into a mini rocker, turned hat-wearing writer, turned A&F sales associate, all the while learning how to blend together A&F with Buckle, Hot Topic with Express, and accessorize even the ugliest Jewel Osco uniform.  This is where I turned to Fashion as a means of expression and that meant that having options was going to be key.  When going for a 'new' look or itching to change it up- don't just throw out who you are and grab the nearest designer label trend.  Trends come & go and need to be blended into your life, not stamped on it.  Remember that the biggest thing you're selling everyday isn't the designers or brands you pick out of your closet.  You're showing the world you. So show off everything and anything and tell the world your story.  Fashion is, after all, all encompassing, and always takes the bad with the good.  Keep the favs from the past and bring them into the now because that's how people know who you are and are excited to see who you will become.

Let people inspire you. And throw yourself at inspiration.



Life Begins...

hey y'all...

For those of you who don't know me, my name is KB and this is my life. I'm a person driven on passion and I rarely slow down for anything.  When I was little I used to wanna be a race car driver-so a life in Fashion seems appropriate as my car driving abilities can be a little questionable. Up until last year I was going to be a lawyer.  I came into college with a plan written in ink and lately all I've been doing is crossing things out and rewriting my desires and goals.  But that's what Life is all about I think. Take today, make a change, and always look in the mirror to find something new.  I wake up everyday and can't wait to see what there's left in this world to discover.  Maybe that's why a great department store sends my heart into a flutter & makes my green eyes grow wide--because Fashion is the force behind the biggest change in our lives--our style.  Style matures, style grows, style stretches from days to generations...Style is never stagnant.  When Style is stagnant... it ceases to be Style and decays into the corpse that used to be your own personal sparkle.  For those of you who follow my tumblr account (which should be all of you pretty please-pinky promise it's good stuff) you'll see my personal mantra:


Call it arrogance, tell me I have an ego.  But the truth is folks that we all have that special asset that makes us stand apart from the person next to us on the El.  That little glitter beast lives in the hearts of us all my fellow fashion friends...let's let it out and take this world by the buttoned-up collar.

To give you some background on me...I've lived in three of America's best cities
1. New York
2. Chicago
3. Atlanta

These three cultures have given me a great perspective on the revolving staple items that everyone reaches for on the shelf, along with those organic accessory choices that come from where you grew up. Currently I'm residing in Chicago and my everyday grab is my Express silver scarf, which makes it easy and effortless to jazz up any outfit, along with making my Eddie Bauer parka a little more representative of my style. Silver has been my favorite thus far of the S&G Divorce--but more and more I find myself putting them back together. Call me a helpless romantic, but I really think Silver & Gold make an excellent pair up, despite reports that one should only reach for one or the other.

There's LOTS going on in the KB world and I know 2011 is only going to bring fabulous things.

I hope you all come to love my blog and I promise there's more to come.

Fashion is the choice you make every morning when you get dressed...even the days you don't. 

So get excited. Get passionate. and we'll talk soon.