You can call me Blog Spice

It’s fashion class homework time. Weeeeeee!

The assignment: pretend like it’s a different time period and you are the forecaster for upcoming trends. What would you have predicted future trends to look like and why?

My decade: the 1990’s.. We’ll never get it all in, but I think we will just try to hit the high notes (Mariah Carey style of course) and have some fun reminiscing!

WHooooAAAAAAAAaAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH BOOM! …. ouch! What just happened??

We just traveled back in time to the 1990’s!

Brandy and Monica just started arguing over who the boy belongs too, you went to see Titanic with your date last weekend, and you’re still secretly panicked about the armageddon coming with Y2K! Your toe ring might have gotten a little tight during travel, but hold on to your overalls, your Royal Freshness, because we have got some trends to predict!

Let’s find some “looks” in women’s fashion that are all that and a bag of chips and  see if we can forecast what’s going down in the new millennium!

Right out of early 1990’s so-cal, one can’t help but scratch their head at the boxy, loose-fitting duds of the sitcom superstars we grew to know and love. In the early nineties, pants were still hitting at the natural waistline, and even had pleats! (oy vey) Bulky structures, lots of denim, and hoodless sweatshirts were holding on to their hairsprayed 1980’s roots.


Angsty teens and sexuality became culture trends and started really catching momentum in the mid-nineties. Television became less filtered and shows like “90210”, “My So-Called Life”, and “Dawson’s Creek” fed a darker side of teen-related programming that addressed sexuality in a way that had massive influence on fashion. No longer seen as a risk-free tango for two and, yet, breathing freely post AIDS scare, sexual identity and empowerment began to really take off. The waistline began to lower, the midriff saw the light of day, and clothes tightened up considerably. A great snapshot of this is the band TLC. One member Lisa “left-eye” Lopes wore a condom over her left eye to promote safe sex.


Knowing only this (because it’s the 90’s still, remember?) , what can we predict here? Well, I predict we see the sexuality of the 90’s continue on to new levels. In the new millennium, I’m betting that showing a little more leg will be less taboo and women, in particular, will keep things pushed and pulled and skin-tight to celebrate their sexual empowerment.

In the late nineties, pop music was experiencing a resurgence of expression. Taking cues from the punky songstresses of the eighties (think Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Paula Abdul), the stars were no longer just showing up and looking good, they were showing up and making a statement. My favorite study in this trend are the Spice Girls. They took the globe by storm with their unapologetic identities, each one having a identity-cueing name and manufactured, yet-authentic-enough-to-digest personality. Below (from right to left) Sporty Spice, Posh Spice, Baby Spice, Ginger Spice, and Scary Spice were five women who didn’t adhere to their singing group/band identity, but rather to their individual identities. This brain-child of Simon Cowell was able to celebrate their differences and therefore allow their followers and fans to connect with their quirks.



The Spice Girls may have been spreading their signature “Girl Power”, but the nineties was a time for the “woman”. Women were needing to find their identities more-so than ever before, because they were taking on more than ever before. More women were balancing families and jobs, finding themselves in the boardroom, and making strides in a man’s world. Pop stars were getting identities, working moms needed identities, and everyone was seeing the advantages of being unique

Knowing what I know here in the 1990’s, what would I predict for the next millennium? Since standing out is becoming more effective for success, I predict that the 2000’s will be a woman dominated world. More groups like the Spice Girls will show up and show off their uniqueness. In the 2000’s, to be on the bandwagon, is to be off the bandwagon.


So while I was watching Spice World in theaters here in the 1990s, I came across the scene where the Spice Girls star in their own movie about being crime-fighting, futuristic hotties! That MUST be what the future looks like!! Silver structured outfits will probably be necessary to protect ourselves from all of the Y2K havoc.


Fun fact: Clearlyinfluenced by the upcoming change in numbers they’d write in their checkbooks, some Chicagoans invented a dance called “the Milly.” Basically it was a macarena-type dance we could all do at our spaceship  weddings.


Taking these cues, I’m like totally predicting lots of harsh angles and silver metallics. Like this:


Okay just kidding…..;)

Oh! We can’t forget about….


Native of the Pacific North West, this was another music-related trend. With Kurt Cobain in the walkman and  flannel tied at the waist, it didn’t get more unsexy than this. The 1990s has been said to be the anti-fashion decade and this trend embraced going against the grain. Plus, who didn’t want to wear those comfy Birkenstocks?


Who knew it would be so hot to dress like your dad doing yard work?

My predictions on this trend: Everyone will still be wearing the same outfit.

Okay just kidding, but if this is still the 1990s, then I think it is fair to say I don’t see this trend lasting forever. Except for your dad.

Well, I think we’ve seen as much as we’re going to see of the nineties for today. Back in the time machine!

Whoaaaahhhwhahaahahahahaoooooooohh!!! BONK!

Phew! We made it safely back to Portland and it’s 2013!


…..are you…….

did we…..

… this?

Maybe we never left……..




Thanks for getting your daily dose of fashion knowledge in! If you could travel in my time machine, what would you bring back from the 90s?

And in the beginning there was Burger King: a long a** look at my design history

*disclaimer* this got a little lot long, but it is the kind of thing you only write once. It’s good to reflect on where you come from sometimes, and remember why you are who you are.

When I was about 13, I inherited a beautiful sewing machine, easily from the first half of the 20th century. I didn’t know what to do with the thing, but was mesmerized by the sparkly, mint-green lacquer and the sturdy curvature of the body. I started taking sewing lessons from an old lady named Elizabeth in the basement of her home. We did the basics. A pincushion. An apron. Decorative pillows. Then high school happened, I started finding less time until I attended the annual fashion show at a place downtown I’d not really heard of before called “Central Campus.” Turns out, it was a Des Moines Public School hub for high school students with trade/technician education, advanced placement courses, childcare education, and fashion design. I went with my good friend Laura and I think I drooled my braces off.

There were bright colors, loud music, creative outfits, and cool older girls modeling their own designs!

Yes, please!

My mom helped me find out how to get into the 2 year program, I interviewed, and was accepted.

I vacillated for a couple weeks, realizing I would be facing giving up my one true love of show choir for all of my junior year…


Check out that pouf, y’all. #glorydays

I digress! Anyways, I said a sorrowful “see ya later” to my sparkles and heels and I went for it, and never looked back.

I was the only one from my high school, which sits on a comfortable part of town. At Central Campus, I was attending with students from all over the Des Moines metro area. My class was entirely girls, which was fun, and I got to know some incredible talent and genuinely warm personalities. Half the day, everyday, we would sew, listen to top 40 or country music, cuss like sailors, and laugh for hours.  (Cuss like sailors? I didn’t say that, I’m a lady…) 



I learned how to sew clothes. We started with the basics: boxer shorts and standard shirts, dresses, and pants. My patience has always been a problem, and the learning curve is steep, but I got the ability to at least produce things to prevent myself from getting public nudity charges.

During the first year, we worked from patterns, and showed off an item of each category at the year-end fashion show. Categories were casual wear, evening wear, sleep/loungewear, children’s wear, avante garde, and one other category I am totally forgetting right now.  Many pics have been lost from the first fashion show, but here the only pics worth your time:

Ill-fitting funeral wear:


Awkward prom:


And, my favorite, BK Loungewear:


Senior year was when the real fun began. We were given more challenging projects such as working with a partner (which anyone working in design knows takes extra effort) to take ugly fabric and manipulate it to make it look decent:


(The only way out was to make our own pattern on top of the nasty floral. You can’t even see it…haha)

Deconstructing an awful old dress and making it into something new:


(I’m heartbroken I don’t have the picture of this transformation, but it began as a poofy-sleeves eighties short dress that was black with a fluffy skirt and spits of pink, turquoise, and purple meshy netting. The collar was my favorite part, and you can’t really tell but the back is a whole bunch of 4 petaled flowers simply tacked in the center. The edges were left raw for texture.)

The most exciting part of the program came at the end of year two: senior collections. So skipping ahead 12 months, I presented my collection: Personal Day Couture.

Inspired by sunny days, femininity, natural fibers, and a touch of elegance, I developed a collection designed for a style-loving lady breathing in the fresh, spring air.

The requirements:

Must create 5 looks, and draw them on croquis figures

Must have designed and constructed one garment for each look. (Some items were aloud to be purchased for the sake of time and cost. Before you are less impressed, keep in mind these are high schoolers with extra curriculars, home school requirements, jobs, and varying incomes. Plus most designers don’t make their own stuff!)

Develop patterns

Create cost reports

Find coordinating music for their show

Recording a video talking about the collection

and select models (from the class)

I give you the highlights- complete with hammed-up commentary:



Wouldn’t be complete w/o high school hair…

Here we have the lovely Alexandra wearing a lightweight seersucker button-down tank with elastic at the bottom hem to give it that “bubble” look. Belt made of a cotton khaki-colored fabric with sparkles to give it that “couture” pow. 

**A note on those buttons. There is/was (I’m not sure) extremely cool and very small button shop in downtown Chicago that my mom and I stumbled upon during one trip. I found a 3 inch diameter wooden button that screamed of flair and bought a couple for the hell of it. They were part of my inspiration for my collection, and my fashion peer and friend, Shelby’s, grandfather heard I was looking for more and volunteered his time to make me a whole bunch to use! They were perfect and absolutely beautiful!! My mom wants them but I’m saving them for my next collection  ;)**


Next the ultra-chic Alyssa wearing a tailored tube dress with pre-frayed hem and floral neckcessory complete with custom wooden buttons. Vintage shoes, but she’s makin’ em look fuh-reshhhh.


Monet is looking sassy in these lightweight sparkle khaki shorts. The drawstring, deep pockets, and elastic, bubble hem on these bottoms makes Monet look ready for a playdate in the sun. Shirt was an awful denim mens shirt I altered for this outfit. Shoes from her personal wardrobe.


Here’s Rachel, and that stance means business. Unfortunately, this is probably one of my better pieces in the collection, but you can’t really see it. It was a navy blue sweater/jacket made from a stretchy knit. Again, it had the bubble bottom but was not fastened in the front and was lined with the same material. Sleeves also had elastic so she could wear it anywhere on her arm. The pearls gave a little polish to this unstructured garment.


There’s Mel! I love this sassy lady. She is werkin’ a skirt made of the same material as the sweater above. It had tucks in addition to the bubble skirt to give it extra body. Her button is on the back of the custom hat band.


And here I am! The designers always came out in their final outfits, and it was typically their “baby” of the collection. This two-piece motif is a white stretch tube dress underneath a denim over-dress (is that what it’s called? like an overcoat but it’s a dress? still don’t know) I used differing shades of denim to maintain the relaxed feel of the collection and gave it an edge with an exposed zipper. This outfit is ideal for picnics that involve caviar.


Always one to love back detailing, I lined the spine with the signature wooden buttons.



And there you have it! I was awarded “Most Cohesive Collection” for my consistence in shape, color, and texture. I’m quite critical of it, but for what tools I was given, I think it is an immense jump start, at least, to using my mind.

That’s where I left off.

I moved halfway across the country from my sewing machine and had some living to do. I took a break from fashion, not feeling that I was competitive enough to make it in the industry. I wasn’t mentally dedicated or prepared enough to spend umpteenthousand dollars on art school. So I did some things on my bucket list:


You know… life stuff.

I did get my hands on a sewing machine once to design a Lady Gaga costume for a sorority sister in a fraternity spoof pageant:


(she won, of course 😉 teehee)

But other than that, life took off. I didn’t sew. My closet over this period of time consisted of windbreakers, college sweats, overly-mature business attire, and some sparkly pageant gowns. All of these are wonderful on any given occasion, but were worn with the intention of fitting a bill; meeting a requirement.

The turning point happened this last winter. In cold, snowy Iowa over Christmas break, I was back with my beautiful green sewing machine. It looked so pristine next to the window against the white backdrop that it screamed “COME PLAY!” I needed an outfit to wear out on a special night out with friends, and nothing in my wardrobe or in stores was satisfying my style appetite. So I got to work; running to the fabric store, looking up outfits I wanted to recreate, draping, cutting, pinning. I was caught in a time warp, and had melted into my project. I felt great— no. I felt electric.

The inspirations:


The result:


This, which boasted faulty construction, raw edges on the inside, a slightly askew zipper and makeshift cups to contour. Not to mention an unforecasted red velvet snowfall all over my bedroom.

Wearing it was a total blast. It was mine, it was an expression of my inspiration and not just something from the mall that sort of captured my ideas. I had, as Oprah would say, an “ah-ha!” moment. I realized I hadn’t been exercising my creativity muscles. I missed the touch of the fabric, the whirr of the machine, and the first breath of fresh air when a project is completed. What I loved the most was the pressure of integrity; I knew what measures I had to take to make the physical creation as thorough as my concept, and that takes perseverance.

Now, I’m taking a few steps back, but already feel like I’ve taken twice that many leaps forward.  I’ve got a new machine, am taking new classes, am meeting people with shared interests, and I hope to meet more. I’m reaching out to share an experience that I’m ecstatic to jump into. I’m retracing my steps under new guidance to fill gaps in my knowledge, and to patch together my skill sets so that I can continue to reap these ideas I continually sew(oh no not a pun! , even if that means making yet another introductory pair of pajama pants…

And now we’re back at the beginning. We are back where I found you, and back where I welcomed you to my journey. Perhaps it makes more sense now why I have chosen to spend my time on a “fashion” blog. I’ve had to ask myself: in a sea of trend-seeking, aspiring e-starlets, what’s one more blog with pictures? And this is why I chose to write this long a$$ blog post. (Pardon my French.. s’il vous plait) I needed to answer that question for myself, and I wanted to share my diary pages, as promised.

I’m going inside, looking at my own mismatched seams and raw edges, and saying


For now, they are right where they belong.

Pictures of my trrrrendy outfit 03.17

Here’s my trrrrendy St. Patty’s day installment of my fashion blogger outfit log! I decided to shamrock out with green from head to toe. Ain’t nobody pinching this lassie.

The inspirations: columns of color ensembles and sprigs of spring yellows. 

I did my best to find my inner leprechaun, but I’m not sure my Irish roots did me much good.


Maybe that’s not such a good idea after all….Photo on 3-17-13 at 6.02 PM #5


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Be safe 😉 xo

Pictures of my trendy outfit 03.14

So being fairly new to this fashion blogging thing, I have done some research of what other my style-minded counterparts have been doing to make their blogs a success. In doing this, I’ve seen a lot of people showcasing their day-to-day outfit selections. Not only does it give them hella street cred as a fashion blogger, it let’s you see how someone else chooses to put together garments in a way you might not.  Wanting to fit in, I had my own fashion shoot yesterday to show you how I was “rockin'” my new spring pants/bag combo from H&M.





I knew all those years of watching America’s Next Top Model would pay off.

Happy Friday xo

Press Release: Barney Poaching Awareness

Portland, OR. A heartbreaking epidemic is sweeping over the fashion world. Popular television star and endangered species, Barney, is reportedly being is being poached for his hide. These uniquely colored hides are being constructed into devastatingly cute bags that are ready for spring and sold at irresistible prices. Members of Barney’s fan club, interviewed Tuesday, were at a loss for words and proceeded to throw cheerios everywhere. Nobody knows who is responsible for this growing tragedy, but officials of the Barney Poaching Awareness Organization, or BPAO, released a statement on Monday saying they are doing everything they can to make sure the remainder of the friendly dinosaurs are being looked after at a safe house. The location of the safe house was undisclosed by the BPAO, but rumored to be somewhere near Sesame Street. Nobody knows what is next for controlling this epidemic and a public warning has been issued to Baby-bop to watch her back. It would make for a nice wallet.


bag: H&M, $17.95. Sale price: $13.46

I guess croquis isn’t food, but talking about them still makes me hungry

Croquis drawing (pronounced crow-key) is a style of sketching and illustration used in fashion design that showcases the fantasy of the designer. Famous for their proportions of “nine heads”, characteristics of these drawings are extra long legs, cartoonish renderings of garments, loosely scribbled patterns, and sassy poses. This is the first step in the design process and is where the imagination can run wild. It is the initial funnel between the dreamland of fashion and the real world runway. If done perfectly they should look a lot like mine: Image

OKAY so maybe not, but don’t worry. I’m seeing progress already! And more on that in a minute. All designers use croquis and they are truly part of what makes the design process so fantastical.

I’m sure you have seen them before, but here is an awesome example I found:


It’s like Versace has been stealing my ideas. Mine looks just like these. 😉

I took a drawing class my freshman year at OSU. Got a B. I enjoyed it, was okay at it, but was more interested in the cute guys in my class rather than the fruit basket. So when I was recommended a fashion drawing class, by George, I took it! This weekend was the first of two weekends of all-day classes, and after weekend one of learning to sketch, I no longer feel like such a lost cause. 

We went from bald and faceless stumpytown squatty…





 … to fabulegs stumptown hotty!



I can’t take credit for this at all, and was simply lucky to have a great teacher to walk me through it. And there are more than this, but I kinda liked the side view and her hair.. and I’m the designer so I get to decide what goes on the blog 😉 More to come.

So, cheers- to sucking less! 

Now I just need to draw these models some cheeseburgers.

Caroline McGowan: International Shopper of Mystery

My Monday fashion class assignment for this week was to do a little comparison shopping. At 3 different stores with different pricepoints with the same garments. I opted to pick my two favorite looks of the season and do a little shopping… With fingers crossed for no unexpected purchases…  🙂

So on my break between classes, I zipped downtown to do a little research!

My clothing crush on the Gucci spring looks I blogged about yesterday was a must-find muse, and I also opted to hop on the B&W bandwagon because this isa striking, yet more wearable trend for P-town.

So here you have it!

If I sold my car:

(prices not listed)

ImageGucci Spring 2013 RTW via

If I didn’t buy groceries until May..or June:

Store: BCBG

Ah yes. Mama likey. Just pricey enough that I felt like they could set the standard as top tier, but not too pricey that I would be too afraid to get any skin cells on the fabric. The store was baron, so I was in and out in a jiffy. Thank goodness I got out with my lunch money still in my pocket!

Left: Jacket: $368, pants: $228, tank: $68

Right: Jumper: $248, necklace: $98


If I was searching for style in in a conservative world:

Store: GAP

Older crowd here, and definitely for a more structured lifestyle. If I needed something less flash but still with flair, you’d find me there! Still not sure the boxy cut was worth $50 bones, but I understand that can also be forgiving for people that don’t have wiener dog torsos like me.

Left: Shirt: $22.95, Jeans:$ 69.95

Right: Sweater: $44.95, Ankle pants $49.95, Necklace: $29.95


If I’m willing to support copy-cats for cheap:

(Oh wait… I am. Bought these pants)

Store: H&M 

Quality of materials was definitely compromised and less garments were lined. The pattern on the pants was clearly adapted from the same inspiration as the BCBG pants, but instead of silk fabric they were made of a thick, stretchy cotton blend and the details on the printed lace were less clear. But they say if a man on a horse can’t tell then it’s not worth worrying about! Next time I’m wearing my new pants and I see one of those horse cops I’ll ask him.

Left: Jacket: $34.95, Tank: $24.95, Pants: $34.95

Right: Dress:$17.95, Necklace: $17.95


Vat ve have learn here:

Fashion doesn’t always have to mean quality, but when I was wearing $800 dollars worth of clothing, I felt like $800 bucks. The conservative comfies at Gap were definitely not as satisfying as those BCBG duds but it was nice to know that even a mom on the go could find something worthy of spring flair and lunch with friends.  For me, it’s $35 dollar finds at H&M  that allow me to bide my time on a student budget, and still give me a boost that lets me gussy up when I go out for a bevy on the weekends.

Fortunately for everyone involved, I found this mystery shopper hat at the end of my journey…


Maybe next time, shady egg hat, maybe next time.

Gravity and Gucci

Gravity, in many ways, is anti-art. You sculpt something; it sits there. You paint something; it’s stuck on the canvas. It doesn’t let these labors of expression swim freely through the air seeking out anyone who might need some inspiration. We take all these art-things and plant them in museums, homes, offices, and other miscellaneous places while we wait for people to pass through to come reap the benefits of their aesthetics.

Just last week I was in a cafe and a woman in her late 50’s walked through the door wearing deep turquoise from head to toe (much like that color in the middle pic below!). Belted trench, ankle length pants, five-inch heels, a floral scarf and hot pink lipstick. I don’t normally turn my head for women(ha)…but as soon as she walked in my head turned and I saw this fresh dash of energy.  I was instantly happier. She was a walking expression of the beautiful sunny day in one of the rainiest cities in America.

In my alternate reality, where I am a filthy rich superstar with a walk-in closet, I am wearing the Gucci 2013 spring collection.

It’s got groundhog-may-care explosions of color that avoid apologetically pastel and dismal neutrals, and instead uses hues that are shouting out a celebration of vitamin D! I love it because even though I can’t afford it (price points ranging 1500-7000 for ready-to-wear) I will have no trouble making it Portlandable. Let’s face it Portlanders– ain’t nobody gonna be walkin down the street in one of these beautiful getups:

us_ss13_fs_wrtw_4_001_web_look_1upus_ss13_fs_wrtw_14_001_web_look_1up us_ss13_fs_wrtw_21_001_web_look_1up

Columns of color are my absolute favorite thing in fashion. I love having an outfit that doesn’t apologize for being orderly and also eye-catching. I did a little e-hunting for info about this collection. Turns out Gucci designer Frida Giannini primarily designed these bold looks as daywear- making her evening collection a showing of mostly blacks and whites.  It was late 1960’s/70’s inspired with tunics and trousers, oversized ruffles, and complete with ornate beaded works of art that looked like fairytale jewels atop clean, bright blasts of color. Of the countless photos I’ve sifted through from this season’s trends, these floral-hued slaps in the face were the only things that woke me right up.

Notes for myself on what I’ve learned about my style:

– Memorability wins over details

– I love columns of color

– I identify with the balance of elegance and playfulness

– I’ve learned you can express yourself even if you are getting a bagel and coffee, and you just might brighten someone’s day

Gravity, in many ways, is anti-art. It binds our art to the earth’s surface. If we aren’t creating our own, we can’t expect to reap the benefits unless we find it. Whether it be nature’s art, like a flower, or human art, like a museum installation, it is unmoving.

Lucky for us, we have feet to seek out art and spread art, and it will continue to awaken our spirits.

But what if we let it defy gravity? What if we let it surround us?

I guess that means

fashion is art defying gravity.

And until I can send canvases floating down the streets of my neighborhood, I think I’ve found some new meaning in my morning routine…

…or lack-thereof  0:-)