Writer & Stylist LisaG (Wearing Vintage Turban & Jumpsuit, Alexander McQueen Booties), Evolution Vintage Studio. Image by: Tamara Wickstrom

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back To School: Inclusion

In a few short days I will be taking my little man Blake to his first day of preschool with his 'typical' peers. When thinking of inclusion our minds tend to think only of the student that is being included in the classroom and the obvious benefits as opposed to a 'special' contained classroom. I was reminded by another parent that there are more who benefit from the inclusion of someone with special needs in a typical classroom setting.

I took Blake to the "open house" of his new preschool. My daughter attend the same program  but they have recently obtained a new site for the school. We went to show our support to the administrator and staff as well as introduce Blake to what will be his new environment. Of course he loved it and wasted no time exploring and playing.  I ran into another mother whom I had not seen since my daughter was in preschool with her daughter. We chatted and exchanged acquaintance pleasantries. She went on to rock my world and take ANY lingering doubts away about my choice to have Blake 100% included. She Thanked ME for choosing to include Blake and pointed out how good it is for her daughter and all the other students.
I remember reading research on the benefits to the children without disabilities when I was preparing my case for the School District but to hear it first hand was a whole other level for me. It just reinforced all that I fought for was worth it and will be a benefit to both Blake and others.

Some Benefits of Inclusion for Students Without Disabilities

The Creation of Meaningful friendships.

Increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences. Tolerance is learned and Respect is earned. When a child is exposed to people with 'differences' the fear of the unknown is removed and replaced with respect.

Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity. Limiting children's exposure only restricts their social potential.

Respect for all people. This all starts with proper models. When children see respect equally distributed across the board, despite perceived differences they are more likely to follow suit.

Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society. We all must co-exist in the world, inclusion lays the foundation for children.

Builds the students knowledge of various disabilities. I would like his classmates to have the FACTS about Down Syndrome so they too can act as advocates and educators to people in their lives. Only through correct information can we dissolve stereotypes and myths.

Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others. It also helps build self esteem and give a sense of self mastery when a child is able to improve their skill sets as well as act as a teacher/helper to the other student(s).

Greater academic outcomes for all. Creating a sense of inclusion, cooperation and helpfulness will help everyone succeed.

All students needs are better met, greater resources for everyone. Blake will have a 1-1 Aide to assist him with speech but it is my hope that a sense of community is promoted here regarding assistance. When the class works collectively as a community to help one another overall every one's needs are better met.

To me the benefits reach even further. All of the staff can benefit from having the opportunity to teach children of all abilities and take a sense of pride for being able to assist in someones success in accessing the curriculum, learning new skills and preparing them for their future. They are in essence the instrument through which their students learn the tolerance and respect for diversity that an inclusive classroom can bring. 

I am excited for Blake to start his new school adventure. If you need me at approximately 9:10AM on Wednesday August 27th I will be pulled over, in my car sobbing!

Every time a uniquely abled child/person is included in the classroom or an other facet of society means a societal step in the right direction has taken place. I am so thrilled Blake can be a part of this movement toward respect and equality in our culture.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Transitional Trench

Marlene Dietrich

We are at a seasonal crossroads as "Back to School" looms before us. The transition from Summer to Fall is here. Traditionally a trench coat is a staple for Spring but I get mine out during this season as the nights become cooler. 
Jackie Kennedy

The history of the trench is long, with origins from menswear. The first world wore saw British and French officers wearing this garment in the trenches, hence the name and it has evolved into the closets of fashionable women across the globe.  It's traditional color was Khaki but thankfully has also evolved into dozens of shades and colors. According to Wiki Invention of the trench coat is claimed by both Burberry and Aquascutum, with Aquascutum's claim dating back to the 1850s. Thomas Burberry, the inventor of gabardine fabric, submitted a design for an Army officer's raincoat to the United Kingdom War Office in 1901.

Jane Birkin - Burberry Trench

My personal go-to trench is a Black Michael Kors with a detachable hood and a liner that is also removable but I am intrigued with the trench trimmed in Grosgrain. Since the SJP Shoe Collection I have taken a second look at this fabrication, for those of you that don't know every shoe has a grosgrain detail or trim. The fabric 'gros grain' is characterized by its ribbed appearance and it is a firm, close-woven, fine-corded fabric with strength. You've seen it a lot as ribbon and headbands but trims for coats and shoes? I adore it.

The Greatest of the Grosgrain in the Trenches:

SJP Manhattan Trench Coat Trimmed in Grosgrain - Avail in: Khaki & Navy *SALE: Reg: $495 - ON SALE 60% off $198.90

Vince Camuto. Grosgrain Trimmed 'walking jacket' in Aqua  - SALE: Reg: $136 - $79.99

Ivanka Trump Grosgrain Trimmed Single Breasted Trench in RED  Was $190.00 / Sale: $104

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Check It

Checkers are one of my favourite prints.  If you have been around for any of my other blog posts you will know that I love how Fashion is a wonderfully constructed web, with various individual facets, yet all interconnected. Some may say that it is a cyclical industry. What's created will always come around again but with a new take. Each decade grabs elements from the ones that came before as we move along the human time continuum.
This 1960's Navy/Green Check Dress by Designer S. Howard Hirsch reminded me of the Louis Vuitton S/S 2012 show. The essence of the non-stop square prints in unique colors struck me. Plenty of long sleeved maxi dresses in this collection with varying print sizes. The undertone was 60's MOD for sure so it always makes me wonder where the contemporary designers get their inspiration?

Check it ... Fashion's past is ALWAYS present.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

#HashtagsHurt: Drag Queen Edition

Once again I was face to screen with the horror of #Hashtags.  Yes they are a useful digital media organizational tool but sometimes they are hurtful. I used the hashtag #DownSyndrome today with an image I posted that included my son Blake. I always use the tag any time my son Blake is pictured on Instagram or Twitter with the intention to share his latest triumph, fun or activity with other parents, siblings, family members, educators or people with Down Syndrome who use these social networking platforms. When time permits I also click on hashtag's and explore other peoples images.  Tonight I came across this image:

Looks like your run of the mill Drag Queen, right? 

Yes, until you see the #HashTag included with the ever so charming #wasted &  #trashed tags was #DownSyndrome to caption the image above.

This bothered me. Was it the #Wonklash? or his/her declared intoxication? or is it another example of why #HashtagsHurt and the insensitivity of our society. I am not talking about PC bullshit either. People should be free to say or express anything they want so long as it is not intended hurtful to others or a deliberate attempt to get laughs at another person or group's expense. I love a intelligent debate and to entertain ideas/views that oppose my own. It is a true path to growth in my opinion, but this is different.

There are several derogatory terms I could have used in my initial annoyance at this Queen's tag choice, all of which are insensitive, disrespectful and hurtful. Instead here is my reply.

I have no interest or time fight hate with hate or intolerance with more bigotry. It is time though to create a dialogue about peoples words and insensitivity's. Cyber bullies are a kin to what I now call #HashtagHaters. 

I would not change my son Blake for the world but I would love to change the world for him. Every time I hear someone use the word Retard I am going to educate them. Every time I see someone picking on a person with any disability I am going to stop them. Every time I see an injustice or wrong doing to ANY community I am going to stand up. Also any time someone uses a #HurtfulHashtag I am going to call them out and let them know that #HashtagsHurt and to perhaps apply a little more effort in your "jokes" or the very least have a little compassion.
 I have compassion for the person who used this tag. I feel sorry that they cannot experience the joy and love my son with Down Syndrome has brought into my life and enjoy the community that welcomed our family with open arms and hearts.  To today's #HashtagHater (I'm sure there will be more) May compassion and love find you so that you can replace the hate with a heart in your hashtags.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Shoe Tour: SJP Style

Fall is upon us which means certain parts of our wardrobe could use an update. I like to work for the bottom up, start with the SHOES!

My FAVOURITE collection currently is from a Style Icon of mine, Sarah Jessica Parker. The collection is a really chic blend of timeless and trend. As a stylist and a lifelong lover of fashion when shoe shopping I adhere to three important rules:

*You get what you pay for. The SJP Collection is high quality.

*I am making an investment. I have a daughter and all of my major fashion purchases I consider an investment for her (or some other lucky soul if she doesn't end up having mamma's size 9). This collection has timeless pieces that you can wear for decades to come and in my case style with decades past, (I'll explain more in the next SJP shoe blog).

*I DESERVE it, and so do YOU! We all work hard in life no matter what our vocation, we deserve to be well heeled and to feel fabulous!

SJP pictured wearing Marlene ($375)

Meet Sarah Jessica on her shoe tour in the following US Nordstrom locations:

8/21 - The Galleria in Houston, TX @ 4pm
8/22 - Tyson's Corner in McLean, VA @ 5pm
8/23 - Roosevelt Field in Garden City, NY @ 2pm

If you can't attend this fun, live, in store opportunity to shop and meet SJP you can shop on-line or try the shoes on in a Nordstrom location nationwide. 

Let Sarah Jessica's designs inspire your fall wardrobe.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mr. Blackwell: A History

Jan. 5, 1968

Richard Blackwell, known as Mr. Blackwell was a fashion critic, designer, journalist and tv/radio personality.  He was most widely known for his "10 Best/Worst Dressed List" long before the E! Fashion Police. In  1960's when he started his design career he was hired by American Weekly magazine for a one time article on the Best/Worst dressed a list he kept in publication for 47 years (Wiki). It was syndicated and covered in various print, television and radio outlets during that time. He was still called upon by television/radio programs 47 years later for his colorful fashion commentary.
Sadly his fashion design career was less popularly known, although he did dress Yvonne DeCarlo, Jayne Mansfield, Dorothy Lamour, Jane Russell and Nancy Reagan. He started designing in 1958 and the "House of Blackwell" lasted only until the early 80's when fashion made a shift into a more common and casual way of dressing. 
The Designer with Jayne Mansfield

Fashion FYI

*  First in history to present his line on a television broadcast.

*  First to make his line available for plus-size women.

* His Designer Dresses sold at the time for $800 to $1,000

* He was born Richard Sylvan Selzer.
In his 1995 biography, From Rags to Bitches, he admitted his main goal was: 'To become my most unforgettable creation: king of the caustic quote, arbiter of good taste and bad, the ultimate mix of madness, marketing and media attention.'

Mr. Blackwell passed away October 19, 2008 at the age of 86.

Thankfully some of his gorgeous pieces remain available today.

The designer with Jayne Mansfield

This 1960's Black chiffon gown with Orange/Gold Embroidered Floral Bodice and Skirt Trim

Friday, August 8, 2014

GUESS For Charity

I have the true honor of selling some of the amazing pieces from the closet of Emmy Award Winning Daytime actress Eileen Davidson. She opened her closet doors in hopes of supporting one of her favourite charities, No Kid Hungry.

Newly listed is a GUESS dress from 2010. The Carmella Corset Dress in Taupe. $180
Bustier Bodice. Dress constructed from Spandex/Nylon/Polyester. Size 4

B=31" + (Difficult to account for the seamed full cups)
*Garment has stretch

This dress was inspired by Dolce and Gabbana 2009 Spring/Summer Collection.