Nipsey Hussle’s Legacy Lives On at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

The moment I heard Nipsey Hussle had been murdered my mind raced in a thousand directions and my heart sank. Like him, I’ve also supported my ‘hood for years- he as a rapper, me as a professional fashion/feature writer- and like him I’ve never really left it no matter where else I’ve traveled or how much education I’ve obtained. Love it or hate it, it’s home. Recently I even experienced my own symbolic demise when my efforts to help those in need was violently thrown back in my face with the new form of haterism currently en vogue in my fair city.

While Nipsey didn’t come back from his encounter with his ungrateful frenemy, I emerged physically unharmed but emotionally shaken and disgusted. Now, in the second phase of this eye-opening episode, my anger is still there but it’s slowly being replaced with a new mission to carry on Nipsey’s legacy despite the haters.

Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza

This epiphany came to me as I walked to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw PlazaVic from a nearby doctor’s appointment, and saw the large photo of Nipsey emblazoned on the wall of the mall with the words Grammy Nominee Nipsey Hussle Victory Lap underneath. As I went through the entrance. I’d come through many times before, I felt a renewed connection that let me know this wasn’t going to be an ordinary visit-I was going to be that legacy that day-representing and supporting my ‘hood in style.

Before I even left home, that morning, I was inspired by transitions. To match my mood I decided on a boho/athleisure look and chose my black, cream and burgundy varsity jacket from Forever 21, my gray and pink striped sweatshirt from T.J. Maxx and my multicolored Knox Rose maxi boho skirt from Target. Do you know what the best thing about that outfit was? Everything was bought one bus ride away from my home and in my neighborhood. Even though the baseball cap I wore, to accessorize it with, came from H & M and my sneakers and shades from Ross Dress For Less the overall flavor of the look was South Central.

Fashion Beat:

While I was attending CSULA, and earning my BA in Fashion Merchandising, my sartorial beat was Inglewood, California where my favorite thrift shop, Daniel Freeman Thrift Auxillary, was. Now that I’m earning an MA in Fashion Journalism at the Academy of Art University online, my beat includes Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Full of memories, from visits with my mother and grandmother while growing up, whenever I have a school project now, it’s one of the first places I check out.

Floral necklace from Macy’s

On the day I visited, two assignments loomed over me, an accessory styling one for my FSH 629 (Fashion Styling) class and an advertising campaign one for my FSH 630 (Fashion Marketing Strategy) class. As I ate my fish lunch in the food court and read my assigned reading in my Promotion in the Merchandising Environment textbook, I got to the end of the How to Build a Brand section where it had information about “linked advertising” and had a great idea. I was sitting right across from Victoria’s Secret and a lightbulb went off in my head. “Why not link with Victoria’s Secret for my ad campaign project?” I said to myself. I’m not sure if it was the silent promise I’d made to keep on striving, despite the shock of Nipsey’s death or my own renewed drive, but after getting the information I needed from the manager of Victoria’s Secret I scored some cool Sale geat and styling props from Forever 21 and Albertson’s. Best of all, I even found the perfect necklace, for my styling assignment, at Macy’s.

Victoria Moore dressed in homage to Frida Khalo

One sad side note almost marred my day, but considering the occasion, it was apropo. Selena Quintanilla the Mexican singer, who was so senselessly gunned down in the same manner as Nipsey, currently has a posthumous collaboration with Forever 21. Inspired by her sexy Latina style-tight jeans and midriff tops-it consists of pre-distressed skinny jeans, a “graphic tee,” “halter top,” “self-tie crop top,” “black and red cropped hoodie,” “print shorts” and other retro ’80s pieces. It’s clearly aimed at the Hispanic market. When I asked the clerk, who rang me up at the store, who was buying it, at first she said, “Everybody is. It’s flying out the door.” When I then asked her if mostly Hispanics were buying it, because it represented their aesthetic, she clammed up and looked confused.

I hope she didn’t think I was trying to insult her, or her culture, because that wasn’t why I wanted to know who was buying the Selena collab, I was sincerely interested. Personally, although my aesthetic is more eclectic, I do experiment a lot and could see buying the bike shorts and the hoodie. I’d keep them on trend, of course, with a tailored jacket and a pair of wide-legged pants but the sentiment would be the same.

Exhausted, but fulfilled, at the end of my visit I headed home feeling better that Nipsey’s hope for his people and community weren’t gone after all, and were definitely still alive at the mall.

Nipsey Hussle

Inspired by Dr. Seuss

If a person ever needed “Dr. Seuss Read across America” week this year it was me. Overwhelmed, physically and emotionally from all of the challenges in my life right now, I still embraced the occasion and let the magic of it guide my way. First I did two things, I studied the pink and black flyer provided by my school site, then I coordinated my outfits accordingly. Since it’s a literary event, I also wanted to share my love for Dr. Seuss by donating a brand new book to the class I helped in every day.Fa

Monday: Favorite Story Book Character, Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?

My first “Read across America” week was  at another school,where I picked up a month-long assignment, as a substitute in the resource office.Comparing that experience,to my current one, is like comparing Thing One and Thing Two to Cindy Lou Who. There we reclaimed our innocence but here we just tried to heal and stabilize. Unfortunately the outside world had momentarily forgotten the positive message of the event.

Tuesday: Fox In Socks

Wednesday: Thing One And Thing Two (Dress Like a Twin)

On the first day of “Dr. Seuss Read Across America” week, at my other location, when the resource teacher laid out her collection of lovingly tattered volumes on the main table in a display, she said, “Whenever we do guided reading I want to encourage each student to either pick one, to read alone, or with one of us. If they don’t feel comfortable doing that we can read aloud to them independently or within a small group.”

Thursday: Cat in the Hat Day (Wear your favorite hat)

Friday: Drop Everything And Read (Wear Red)

Carrying On a Dr. Seuss Tradition:

This year I wanted to continue this charming tradition,with my current job site,by bringing in five of my own Dr. Seuss books to share. My plan was to either read the stories to the students,each afternoon,or ask the teacher or another instructional assistant to do it. Through scaffolding I hoped to guide them into a wondrous fantasy world I still love escaping to. Excited by the newness of the Books, the students sat still in front of the other staff and I on their classroom carpet and via a sea of exciting words and visuals traveled on one of their first reading adventures.

With comments like,”that Fox is mean” , about the main character in “Fox In Socks”, it seems they really grasp the meaning of a Dr. Seuss book-to make you think.

Representing in Red

The color red has always meant so many things to me, as a native Los Angeleno.During the 1980s, when gang strife between the Crips and the Bloods, was at its highest it wasn’t safe for a civilian to sport it on any part of their body. Then in the 1990s and most of the 2000s it was overwhelmingly utilized for Valentine’s Day promos at retail stores around the city. Now that I work as a Special Ed Instructional Assistant for LAUSD and the teachers are out on strike, the teacher I work with asked me to wear red every time I come to school to show support. Initially I assumed it would be easy to put together outfits with red as the theme, but the request has been as challenging as my workdays during the strike. To address it I created a capsule of sweaters, long-sleeved print shirts and jeans, khakis and others sturdy pants. Tough and vibrant the capsule held up surprisingly well despite the onslaught of rain I had the pleasure of slogging through during the week. Although my obstacle is not as arduous as the teachers fighting for better education it does give me a chance to step into their shoes as I help hold down the fort in their absence.

Black and White: A Personal Significance

"Black and white always looks modern, whatever that means."--Karl Lagerfeld

black and white nature flowers close up view
Photo by Jack Hawley on Pexels.com

The color combination of black and white has always had special meaning for me. Racially its existence has defined most of my life as an African-American female, educated then employed first in a predominately Caucasian environment then a resegregated Hispanic one. Yet even among my own race the duality of my interests, and confusion about my lack of conformity, has forced me to carve out my own niche.

On one hand, I love soul food, am a great dancer, and a sharp dresser, but on the other hand, I’m equally passionate about books, writing, art, and antiques. Within this ridiculous quagmire, a sartorial rage bubbles beneath the surface whenever I’m confronted with racial issues causing frustration and confusion. To bring perspective and mental order back into my life I reach for the simple clarifying palette of black and white.

Classic dark shades and white and black tote bag from H&M

For the Spring/Summer 2018 season, the combo reigned again and even showed up online on Forever 21‘s website. Faux Mod styles looked graphically delightful and caused me to add the following to my wishlist for fall: 1) a black and white Gingham Cabby Hat ($12.90), (2) a Houndstooth Boxy Crop Top ($12.90), (3) a Striped Ribbed Mock Neck Tee ($10.90) and (4) a pair of Gingham Cropped Pants ($19.90). Fresh, young, but also versatile, they reminded me of Swinging London and ’80s New Wave.

IMG_6231
Stripes are always fun, and always in.

Black-vs.-White

“Black and white clothing is an age-old signal of servitude and humility,” wrote Jess Cartner-Morley in How to dress black and white (The Guardian, Fri. 19 April 2013). Traditionally worn by waiters, waitresses, priests, and nuns, it was my choice too as a salesperson during my brief stint with The Limited at the Century City Plaza in the 1980s.

Openly racist, I was told the first day, by the manager not to be offended if the White customers didn’t want me to touch their clothing because I’m Black. “Oh I understand,” I told her with a smile, letting her think I’d let it go. Inwardly seething, every time I helped a customer who was clearly prejudiced, I waited until she paid for her selection at the counter and touched everything. I even held them up to her saying, “You have great taste. This really suits you.”

Regardless, my black and white wardrobe then was far from subservient, and with a little updating, could easily be worn today. It consisted of five pieces: a straight white mini skirt, a straight black mini skirt, a white t-shirt, a pair of black cotton pants and a black shirt dress. Now, besides keeping the white tee the same, I’d replace the minis with an A-line tiered skirt and the straight pants with palazzos.

In 2015, black and white inspired designers again to go bold with “Op Art Stripes,” “Chessboards” and “not for the shy mixed prints.” Since black is defined as “evil” and white as “the color of maximum lightness” in dictionaries like Merriam Webster’s Pocket Dictionary it’s comforting to also know the Taoist Yin/Yang design is the culmination of these opposing elements.

 

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Pearls on a hanger

Flipping the Trope

An outdated trope that’s equated black with negativity and white with positivity can easily be flipped when they’re used to symbolize the opposite. Earlier this year, a freshman student at Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy (LAUSD) chose to wear full Ku Klux Klan regalia to school for his final History project on racism. The white color, of the offensive clothing, subverted it from a shade of “purity, innocence, and brightness” into one of “confusion, emptiness, and isolation.” Like the character Don Fanucci in The Godfather, whose white suit represented pure evil, this student’s display also signified provocation.

When photographer Peter Lindbergh and fashion editor Grace Coddington, shot the layout Light Brigade for the March 2015 American Vogue the choice to use an all-Black cast of models in white garments, ala Picnic At Hanging Rock, was brilliantly inclusive. Back in 1975, when the film was directed by Peter Weir, and in 1900 when the actual crime occurred, you’d rarely see Blacks portrayed with such beauty in a magazine or film. By subverting the definitions of black and white, Lindbergh, Coddington and the models, Malaika Firth, Leila Nda, Imaan Hammam, Tami Williams, and Kai Newman, rewrote the trope for a new generation.

Black and whtie checked top (1)

Victoria Moore in vintage black and white wool top

Black has it all,” said Coco Chanel. “White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”

Is Color Important?

“Research on the psychology of color consistently demonstrates that colors evoke emotional, behavioral and physical responses,” writes Carole Kanchier in What the Colour You’re Wearing Says About You (07/13/2012, Huffington Post). On a Sunday, during the last week of my Mad About Musicals online class, I wanted to do it up a big and take a personal field trip to the Cinemark Promenade Theater at Howard Hughes Parkway to see West Side Story. Inspired by the racial theme of the movie, and my own conflicted thoughts about the Klan sporting student at Harbor Teacher Prep, I chose a black and white outfit that aptly expressed my inner turmoil.

Black and white outfit, black and white jacket, shirt and black pants (1)

Black and white outfit

Starting with the black and white houndstooth coat I’d bought at Forever 21 for the Shen-Yun dance concert I’d seen this Spring, I then added a black and white checked Who What Wear shirt I’d just bought at Target, a pair of wide-legged pants from T.J. Maxx, a rhinestone necklace from Fallas and a red, black and white Hello Kitty bag from Pink Memories. More distinctive, and clear-cut than my Shen-Yun outfit-a long black and white swirl print dress from Ross, black leggings, black and silver print Ked’s and a black and white African necklace-it nonetheless reflected my mood.

Black, white and unicorn print purse by Betsey Johnson from Ross (1)

Betsey Johnson unicorn print purse

Classing It Up for Fall 2018 on a Budget

After doing preliminary research, in various top fashion magazines and online, I went to my local mall and shopped for Fall. First I went to T.J. Maxx and bought a pair of black and white glen plaid stretch pants, with a yellow stripe detail, for $14.99, and a gray and white striped button-down shirt for $10.00, then I went to Forever 21 and bought a black and white houndstooth scarf for $5.90,  a five-pack set of black and white socks, and a pink crystal ring for color.

While this version of black and white is more sophisticated and retro than my previous incarnations, it’s still classic enough to be coordinated with my other pieces, and earn a place in my wardrobe and growing collection.

“Pearls were the perfect accessory for the little black dress,” wrote Debbie Sessions in 1950s Pearl Jewelry.

 

adult attractive autumn beads
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fun Ways to Wear Black and White

  1. White button-down shirt + black pants + black ballet flats + black purse.
  2. Black dress + black and white cardigan + black tights + white and beige pointy-toed flats + white vintage Chanel purse.
  3. Black and white print blazer or coat + white top + white capris.
  4. White lacy dress + black leggings + black Ked’s + straw hat.
  5. Black and white houndstooth coat + black floral dress + ankle boots.

“Stylist’s Tip: Punctuate a graphic look with bold red extras.”–Harper’s Bazaar “Check Please”

References/Resources List:

  1. Forever 21 (Forever 21)
  2. Morley, Jess-Cartner. How to dress in black and white, Fri. 19 April 2013, How to dress in black and white
  3. Kanchier, Carole. What the Colour You’re Wearing Says About You, updated 07/31/2012, What the Colour You’re Wearing Says About You
  4. Lindbergh, Peter and Coddington, Grace. Light Brigade, American Vogue, March 2015.

Five Ways to Wear Vintage Jeans

      two hanged blue stonewash and blue jeansPhoto by Mica Asato on Pexels.com

There are so many brands and styles of jeans on the market you could spend a whole year trying them on. Despite my fondness for the Mossimo jeans I bought this Spring at Target, the white skinny jeans from Ross, and the Blue Desire Midrise with the distressed hems from T.J. Maxx, my all time favorite type are pre-owned and vintage. Soft, worn in and characteristically inexpensive their main attribute is timelessness.

Paired with a feminine Ralph Lauren blouse they’re “shabby but chic” or with a pristine white tee and menswear blazer, they’re ’80s street. In homage to one of my prized separates, today’s post is all about how to coordinate them five different ways.

Look of the Day-Blues
Look of the Day-Blues

Mixing It Up with Florals and Stripes

Painter’s jeans are considered serious work pants when worn with a flannel shirt and steel-toed boots, but they can also be playful when worn with a blue floral jacket and a navy-blue and white Breton (sailor top). Perfect for a quick jaunt to your neighborhood Farmer’s Market or local art gallery, museum or used bookstore they’re tidy and chic.

Farmer’s Market: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Farmer’s Market, every Saturday 10 a.m. through 3 p.m.,seela.org 3650 W. MLK Jr. Blvd., L.A., CA. 90008, 323-290-6636).

The Museum of African-American Art: Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (Macy’s 3rd Floor, 4005 Crenshaw Blvd., Thursday-Sunday:12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.,maaala.org). Please call about exhibits and special events.

The Whole 9 Gallery: 3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA. 90232, 310-836-4600. Please call for more information about hours, exhibits and special events. thewhole9gallery.com.

Casual distressed jeans errand outfit (10)
Casual neighborhood errands: White cardie over a  tee and distressed Levi’s. Access. with white cotton hat, shades, tweedy socks and suede sandals.

Cool Errand Gear

Distressed and faded Levi’s can still be stylish and versatile when mixed with a vintage white cardigan, statement belt, and shades. The patina and wear of both items also give them a modern elegance. Slip this outfit on when running out to McDonald’s for a quick lunch, bank for much-needed funds or the cleaners with your suit for a job fair. Comfortable enough to be laid-back, but not so sloppy you’ll have to hide behind a nearby bush if you run into an old boyfriend, the structured lines of the jeans and sweater prevent it from being slovenly.

Four Ways To Wear Vintage Jeans Collage
Vintage jeans are so versatile you can dress them up or down depending on your mood and the occasion.

Baggy Hip-Hop Swag

Loose, baggy jeans add an extra saucy edge when coordinated with an oversized white Ralph Lauren shirt, vintage Levi’s jacket, and suede sandals. Then accessorized with a vintage red, white and black print vintage 1940’s doo-rag and oversized shades, it exudes a feminine allure to an ensemble comfy enough for a morning matinee at the Cinemark, artsy afternoon at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) or craft and school supply haul at the Dollar Tree,  JoAnne’s or Michael’s.

Blue denim and pink
Pink wraparound cardie over a pink tee and distressed jeans. I wore this outfit to run errands at “Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza”.

Distressed But Louche

If you buy a naturally worn and paint splattered pair of jeans from Timeless Treasures or another local thrift store, you can always dress them up with a knock-off Chanel-esque blazer to give them that high-low appeal that’ll take you to school and studying at the library afterwards, or dress them down with a grey retro Aerosmith tee from Ross, for a personal field trip to a Saturday yard sale. Brimming with lively backstories, if you’re lucky enough to find ones this authentic and beloved, they may soon accompany you on your own adventures, and collect tales picked up along the way, for the next owner to ponder over.

Peach blouse with vintage jeans (2)
Victoria Moore in a vintage peach tie-front blouse, vintage Levi’s and straw hat.

Streamlined Blue

Sometimes it’s not just nice to comingle prints and patterns, but layers too. A cropped cardigan can be very smart when placed over a striped blue and white blouse then accented with a navy-blue and white polka-dotted scarf tie and cuffed vintage Levi’s. If you work somewhere semi-casual, arduous, yet with exposure to the public in a school or library this combo is just right for long shifts and hard physical tasks that would render nicer duds torn and tattered in minutes.

As you can see, the ways to coordinate vintage jeans are as varied as the occasions they can be worn too. With a little ingenuity and self-analysis, you can easily include them in your wardrobe and use them to add uniqueness and classical styling any time you need to.

The True Story of Jeans

1) “What textile are they made from?”

They are made out of a material called “denim”. Its name comes from the French term “Serge de Nimes” where they originated in Nimes, France.

2) “How is denim created?”

Denim is created from the weft of the “cotton twill” which goes beneath the warp “threads” before they’re woven together. To get the distinctive blue and white shade of traditional jeans, the warp is “dyed indigo” while the weft is left white.

3) “When were jeans first invented and by whom?”

Jeans were first invented in 1873, by Jacob W. Davis a Reno, Nevada-based tailor and Bavarian native, “businessman/entrepreneur” Levi Strauss.

4) “Which group first wore “blue jeans” and why?”

Cowboys and miners were the first groups to wear “blue jeans. They wore them because they were sturdy and held up well over time.

5) “How did they become so popular with the mainstream?”

James Dean in the film Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956) made them popular and okay for anti-establishment males to adopt them as an alternative garment that signified youthful rebellion and allegiance to a sub-culture separate from their 9-5 fathers. Marilyn Monroe in the 1961 film The Misfits did the same for females.

References Cited

      1. historyofjeans.comHistory of Jeans and Denim
      2. historyofjeans-making/how-jeans-are-made
      3. www.racked.com/2015/2/27/8116465/the-complete-history-of-blue-jeans-from-miners-to-marilyn-monroe, Wright, Jennifer. The Complete History of Blue Jeans, From Miners to Marilyn Monroe

girl jeans kid loneliness
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 Places to Buy Vintage Jeans in Los Angeles, CA.

    1. Goodwill Southern California Store and Donation Center, Culver Junction, 3340, 8950 Venice Blvd., L.A., CA. 90034, 310-845-9327. Hours: Sunday (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Monday through Saturday (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.), www.goodwillsocal.org. Online store (www.shopgoodwill.org), Ann Taylor Loft, Tommy Hilfiger, Lucky Brand, etc., (Under $50).
    2. Etsy.com, Levi’s vintage jeans (Various prices, under $100), www.etsy.com
    3. Timeless Treasures Thrift Shop, 9441 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA. 90232, 310-559-8338. Hours: Tuesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
    4. Out of the Closet Thrift Store, 8224 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA., 90046, 323-848-9760. Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.