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Archive for July, 2013

Laurie Andreoni. Photo by K. Walker.

Laurie Andreoni. Photo by K. Walker.

Laurie Andreoni has been connected to fashion design since she was six-years-old when her grandmother taught her to sew on an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine. After getting a degree in fashion merchandising and years of designing her own clothes, Laurie made a big shift and studied to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Then in 2008, living a full and busy life, Laurie was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Faced with chemotherapy treatments and knowing she would probably lose her hair, Laurie worried about how to handle it. Quite spontaneously she came upon turbans as a stylish way to cover her head and soon recognized an opportunity to use her early background in fashion to launch a business – Titillating Turbans.

Recently Laurie took time to chat with OverDressed for Life.

When you lost your hair during chemo, how did you come about turbans as a way to cover your head? 

When I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer I focused on the high chances of recovery, but as the days of chemotherapy and radiation closed in, I didn’t feel so brave. Above all, I became obsessed with how to deal with losing my hair.

Several months earlier, I had received a pashmina shawl the same auburn color as my hair.  Before I even started chemo, I came across it and thought, “Hey, I could wear this on my head!” That day I experimented with wrapping everything except the bedspread until I came up with a turban effect that was actually more flattering than my hair had been. Once I lost my hair, my scalp was so sensitive from other chemo side effects that wigs were unbearable, so turbans became my head covering.

Were you a hat gal before chemo?

I always loved the way hats looked on other women, but I never wore hats before chemo.  I have an oblong face and I felt they made me look like a dork.

What did wearing the turbans do for you?

It made me look at myself from a different perspective. Instead of feeling embarrassed and victimized by my hair loss, I saw my head as a clean palette for an art project. I learned that selecting and wrapping head scarves is like choosing the best hair color and style for your face.

It reawakened my creativity and the act of getting dressed each day became exciting. Matching scarves to earrings and clothes I already had made me feel like I had a whole new wardrobe.

Every time I went to the treatment centers, I was a source of entertainment for the nurses and patients.  People stopped me in public to compliment my head wraps. It boosted my confidence at a time when I needed it most.  Best of all, my having fun with the process was an inspiration to other patients.

How did your background in sewing and fashion help start your business?

My grandmother was my greatest inspiration on many levels.  Not only was she a gifted seamstress, but was ahead of her time in her knowledge about natural health practices.

She taught me to cut patterns and sew. I had more formal training in sewing through high school, attended fashion classes for teens at RI School of Design, and completed a Fashion Merchandising program after high school. The industry brought me to makeup artistry, which led to esthetics and body work, and ultimately Chiropractic college.  By the time I lost my hair, I was adept at manipulating everything from fabrics to spines and had quite a flair for the dramatic.

How do you think fashion in general can help a woman through the difficulties of fighting cancer or any illness?

It boosts your mood, self-esteem, energy and endorphins. Your changed appearance is an added burden to your diagnosis, but it is one thing in the process that you CAN control.  And it can be an uplifting alternative to worrying.

Hair loss can be a constant reminder of changes in your own body over which you no longer have control. Or – it can be permission to get a little more daring with fashion.

You don’t need a new wardrobe. A little makeup will brighten your chemo-paled complexion. If you don’t want to wear makeup, simply wearing a flattering color can help you look better.  When you look better, you and the people around you feel more uplifted and energetic.

Please describe the various turbans that you make.

Titillating Turbans arose from several challenges I found when wrapping scarves:

  • Keep the head completely covered without being too tight
  • Avoid the “flat head” look that happens without hair as padding
  • Fit comfortably without slipping
  • Have the option of different styles – easily!

My goal was to create turbans for women that wanted to express their personal style, without the frustrations that came with wrapping scarves, or the expense of a different hat for every style.

The result was 2 basic designs; the original is a comfortably fitted hat and matching scarf, and the other is a long one piece wrap that stays in place while the end is wrapped and styled.

How are your turbans different from others on the market?

The difference is the versatility and dimension.  Most other turbans are a single hat style; those that have tie ends typically have limited styling options.  Scarf-wrap types can appear flat, making the head look much smaller than it would with hair.

With the 2 piece Titillating Turban set, the hat has soft gathering to add fullness.  It can be worn with the gathering in any direction, alone or with the matching long scarf or additional scarves.  Because the hat fully covers the head, it’s easy to tie the scarf in dozens of different styles, from conservative to playful or dramatic.

The one piece is a long, fitted wrap; unlike a scarf, it stays comfortably in place during styling and contains enough fabric for knots, bows, full layers or a smooth wrap.

I would imagine women who haven’t lost their hair might also sport a Titillating Turban.

Yes!  Women buy them as modesty head coverings, or request the custom 3 flower headbands. And with turbans showing up as trending every season, there is a significant increase in women buying them as basic fashion accessory.  They have a cross-cultural appeal, and you can wear them as conservatively or wildly as your personality will allow.

Titillating Turbans are made in the USA (love that!).

Congratulations, Laurie on five years cancer-free and thank you for such amazing inspiration!

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Don’t you love Ms. Schiaparelli’s turban?

… once you have created a dress it no longer belongs to you. A dress has no life of its own unless it is worn, and as soon as this happens another personality takes over from you and animates it, or tries to, glorifies or destroys it, or makes it into a song of beauty.

– Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) from her autobiography, Shocking Life (J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, 1957).

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that-hat

Tyrone Power & Norma Varden in Witness for the Prosecution.

I’m constantly surprised that women’s hats do not provoke more murders.

– Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfrid Robarts in Witness for the Prosecution, the 1957 film based on Agatha Christie’s stage play.

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Tziporah Salamon

Tziporah Salamon

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 11 fashionable ladies gathered in San Francisco to hear Tziporah Salamon talk about her style and how she puts herself together. An artist of fine dressing, Ms. Salamon has created a presentation, part lecture/part show-and-tell, to teach women how to dress appropriately and with flair.

She was born in Israel to a tailor father and a seamstress mother from Hungary. (Her father’s tailoring skills saved his life at the young age of 13 in the WW II concentration camps, where he was charged with making the Nazi uniforms.) Between the two parents Ms. Salamon and her sister never went without quality clothing.  “From day one I would be sleeping, they would be sewing,” she said in her introduction.

The family immigrated to New York when Ms. Salamon was nine years old and she still lives there today. As a former teacher and with years of experience in the fashion industry, Ms. Salamon has a new mission – she wants to redirect women toward a better way of dressing. “It’s so needed right now,” she explained. “Girls and women dress inappropriately.”

To that end she is now splitting her time between New York and Los Angeles with the occasional visit to San Francisco. She feels that the current trend for sloppy and inappropriate attire is rooted in Hollywood and celebrity culture, so it is her intention to infiltrate that culture.  By setting an example, giving her presentation and eventually working as a stylist Ms. Salamon hopes to inspire women to dump their track suits and flip-flops for more elegant and interesting choices.

Photo by Ari Seth Cohen.

Photo by Ari Seth Cohen.

Ms. Salamon’s two-hour presentation is comprised of her dressing in several outfits as she explains where she found the individual pieces and why they work together. When creating an ensemble, she starts with one inspiring item and builds from there using layers of textures and coordinating colors. Sometimes it can take years to complete one outfit. She favors vintage clothing because of the rarity and high quality. She stresses the importance of accessories. “Invest in good quality basics and accessorize,” she said.  Jewelry, sunglasses (vintage), scarves and especially hats are important.  “The hat is the exclamation point.”

Ms. Salamon says there are big benefits to putting some effort into your style. “People talk to you when you’re dressed well and you’re better treated.”

Click here to view more of Ms. Salamon’s sartorial creations.

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The woman carries the clothes, but the shoe carries the woman.

– Christian Louboutin, shoe designer.

Nice quote but ironic coming from Mr. Louboutin given his recent influx of impolite shoe designs. Seems to me these unattractive devices of torture certainly do not carry the woman. Indeed this style of shoe gives women an awkward gait, struggling from step to step with fingers crossed that they won’t take an embarrassing tumble. And this shoe is an inappropriate choice pretty much everywhere except perhaps for a strip club.

Shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Shoes by Christian Louboutin.

Mr. Louboutin commented in a video, shown at the recent Fashion Institute of Technology shoe exhibit, that he created a very high heel thinking: Oh, women will not wear this. But they did, so he created even higher and higher, and he says (with a shrug in his tone) that he’ll keep on raising the heel as long as women keep buying.

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Image courtesy of Barron's Educational Series.

Image courtesy of Barron’s Educational Series.

The UK is currently on baby watch, counting down till the arrival of a new prince or princess. In case you haven’t heard, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) are expecting their first child in July and just in time for the celebrations is a new book by Caroline Jones, Kate’s Style: Smart, Chic Fashion from a Royal Role Model (Barron’s Educational Series, 2013).

Ms. Jones, editor and lifestyle journalist, has studied Kate’s impeccable style from her college years right up to the baby-bump moment. With over 40 photos, she shows readers how Kate puts herself together and why what she does works every time. Closeup shots of accessories and fashion details as well as sidebars loaded with information, such as designer names and how to do it yourself, make this book invaluable for anyone who would like to emulate Kate’s style. Beyond that, it’s an excellent documentation of modern royal fashion.

In her introduction Ms. Jones says: Selecting outfit after stunning outfit for such a variety of engagements on such a public stage is an enormously tricky task, but one that Kate pulls of with aplomb and without the assistance of so much as a personal stylist. If she can do all this on her own, then there’s hope for the rest of us!

Indeed it would be a pleasure to see more fashionables donning Kate’s demure look. She approaches her style with an eye for simplicity, which usually starts with a classic dress made of interesting fabric like lace or in an eye-catching color. Her shoe of choice is almost always the pump paired with nude hose, although she’s also known to wear high heel boots with tights. Accessories might include a jaunty hat, drop earrings in pearls or a sparkle gemstone and a clutch handbag. She tends toward two color schemes matching the shoes, hat, and handbag, which might seem a bit old-school but according to Ms. Jones “… does allow the whole look to be sleek, managed, and minimal.”

Following the lead of the late Diana Princess of Wales, Kate will often add an extra touch reflecting a particular occasion or the country she’s visiting. For example she sported a cowboy hat while in Canada attending a rodeo. On a visit to her former preparatory school Kate wore a Black Watch tartan coat – a smart reference to the school’s black and green plaid uniform.

Kate’s Style is a helpful guide not just for those who admire the duchess but also for anyone who would like to improve their personal style. Afterall, you can’t go wrong with Kate as your guide.

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