Personal Style

Viv's Photo copy

More from Vivian, followed by her 18-year old son, Brandon!  

… So ladies, let’s talk about personal style. When I think about my style, I’m not exactly sure what word I would use to describe it. “Eclectic” would be too easy, so I’ll use the word “moody” instead.

If I look back at my journey of style, it starts back in elementary school in the sale department of Sears with my mother’s great purchase of the week – too-big blue jeans with a Superman logo on the butt. That put me in a crappy mood, especially when all the kids started calling me “super butt.”

We bought all of our clothes on sale, so it was always a mishmash of colors, styles and imitation brands. My sister and I would comb through the sale racks religiously, trying to find the next great deal. When we did, we giggled in delight, and then fought viciously to be the first to wear it. When I won, I felt euphoric! When I lost, I was mad as hell.

I loved clothes, so it hardly mattered that the logo on my shirt was not an alligator, but rather some lame animal substitute. And it hardly made a difference that my pants were 2 sizes too large or not on-trend (imagine straight leg pants when bell bottoms were in). Since we didn’t have a ton of money to waste, I really didn’t have a choice but to hardly care. I held my chin up and half-grinned.

My mother decided to enlighten me early. She grew up in the war times in the diplomatic circles in China, and her mother insisted that she sew all of her own clothes. When I hit middle school and refused to wear the next generation of super-butt jeans, she sat me down at her sewing machine and taught me a lesson.

I learned that I could design and create my own personal style, my own statement. So, I spent my middle school years hunting for fabrics and patterns and buttons, using Vogue, McCall’s and Butterick as starting points (and then veering dangerously off course). I became less attached to being “in” and more attached to bringing my vision to life (which admittedly, was at times, lop-sided).

From there, my style has become more and more my personal statement, one that has been dictated by the phase of my life, my context, and my mood (to the last point, if my style does not match my mood, it’s like dealing with a wedgie all day). Here are a few from my past:

  • The Artist: Most of my college years were spent in black. I enjoyed layers and textures and any shade of black. Very artistic, very cool, very dark and very, very moody. Sans bangs and the heavy eyeliner.
  • Elvira:  After my son was born, I gave up being anything other than a drool rag. Style was not a priority. Baggy jeans and shirts to hide the baby weight and cotton to absorb the spit. The only exception was the occasional date with Elvira.
  • Androgeny Girl: The first time I learned how to Taiko drum, I was so taken by the power of it, I went home and shaved my head. A white tank, no bra and baggy jeans (and no hair – well ok, 1/8 inch). Yes, I was a mommy then.
  • Consultant Chick: Stupid suits and pumps, which graduated to jeans and stupid boring shirts. Always looked appropriate for the occasion (and was labeled the fashionista among the corporate – ha!). My “adult” phase, which I swear I will never do again.

My Way: Today, I wear whatever I please, depending on my mood (and because I can). I move easily from one day to the next with a smile: a little shimmer and high heels; soft white and steel tips; some pink and patent leather; blue jeans and snake skin; all black and red plats. I have even discovered dresses and skirts again, despite the wrinkles above the knees and probably due to boredom. Damn, I feel great and so free to be me!

So what I LOVE is seeing women express themselves, fully and freely. I believe that real women dare to be themselves. They are confident in their unique statements, and their personal style comes through every day in a natural and effortless way.

Speaking of, we created our first profile on Michelle wearing her favorite Stella looks, and she is for sure, a real woman: smart, sassy, spontaneous, confident and cool. A lovely human being and a style chameleon, one who dares to go barefoot no less!

>> What are some of your styles, past or present?

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Guest blog post from Vivian’s son, Brandon:

I was helping my mom with her last blog post, and a theme came up that was mentioned in the end of her post. I felt pretty strongly about it, so she asked me to do this. So, here I am.

For those of you who don’t know me for obvious reasons, and I’m assuming this includes all of you, my name is Brandon. As you probably could have guessed from reading my mom’s previous posts, growing up with her as my mom led to a lot of interesting choices and clothes. For example, my mom personally made my Halloween costumes until 5th grade. I was everything from Harry Potter, a hamster, to a Hershey’s kiss. I sometimes wish that last one was a joke, but what the hell, it was a fun Halloween and totally worth the story I will eventually tell to my kids.

For the most part, I didn’t really get into style until the last year when my family went to China. Here is where I got my first button-down shirts that I liked, and my first tailored shirts. This is what I started to build my “look” around. Prior to this, I was inherently a skateboarder and dressed like it. (I still am, but now I dress differently when I am not skating.) But after this trip, my shirts started to fit better, my pants got skinnier, and I started to get into shoes more, okay a lot more…

This finally brings me to what this whole post is about. Confidence is everything in my opinion. This relates to more than just clothes, but we’re talking about clothes right now, so I’ll stick to that. After I came back from this trip, I started to feel better about what I was wearing and really embraced. I thought I had always felt pretty comfortable with how I dressed, but recently I realized how much more I love my new “look.” It started to feel more me, and I know people started to look at me differently.

As my senior year started (I just graduated. YAY!!!!), I went in with a new confidence and style to build on. I have always been that shy kid at school, but with my new style, I started to become more confident and really just stop caring what people thought of me.

My favorite question was when my classmates would ask me why I did something, and always my response was “ Why not?” They would ask again and that would still be my response. Most people believe that they get pigeonholed into one category or another, but why do you have to be? Be yourself, dress however you want, do what you want. If you want a new haircut that’s different, do it, if you want a tattoo, get one (thank you mom for my graduation present!) In the end, you are doing it for yourself, so why should you care what other people think?

Stand behind your decisions and people will see that unwavering confidence and will have no other option but to take it.  I find it funny that I found this out from my boss at Cal Skate Camp a few years ago (I am now his assistant/coordinator of the camp). But I learned from him that if you are going to do something, you have to be confident and stand behind it the whole time. No matter what you are doing, if you are confident, you will ultimately earn more respect for standing behind it versus wavering.

If you are going to wear something that is new and different for you, don’t be afraid to. Walking out of the house and into your workplace just knowing that you look good will give out a certain aura – one that inspires, and tells people that you are confident in who you are.

In my yearbook this year, my friend wrote, “Brandon: Your outfits constantly amaze me, and I daresay I would never have the balls to wear clothing as cool as yours.” And my response is, well, “Why Not?”

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About Stella Carakasi

San Francisco Bay Area designer, Stella Carakasi, features her women's collection at www.stellacarakasi.com and boutiques in the US and abroad. Stella explains, "My clothes are designed for women who value quality and practicality and are not afraid to be unique and a bit eclectic. They are confident, bohemian at times, and they like to make personal statements with their style. My clothes are not about age or body type, but rather about lifestyle." For customers in the SF Bay Area, join us at Stella Studio for community events, including trunk shows, sample sales, and fundraisers. Stella Studio is located adjacent to our Design House at 1370 10th St. in Berkeley, CA.
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