The Season’s New Looks Are Brought To Santa Cruz
Fashion Editor’s note: This year’s Fashion Issue takes a close look at the trends and personal interpretations of what fall fashion can do for you. Locals weigh in on the verdict of what’s in and out, and how to maintain a stylish wardrobe as the fall weather creeps in on us. Following this article is a photo spread by local designer-stylist-photographer Alexis Meschi. The multi-talented Meschi blew us away with her powerful images that capture fall fashion in all of its glory. Enjoy. —Christa Martin
Fashion comes in all shapes and sizes, trends and classics, and oftentimes it’s here to stay, whether you like it or not—think skinny jeans. GT caught up with some of the local people involved in fashion to discover how the fall runway looks will (or won’t) translate to the fashionable residents here in Santa Cruz. What we’ve discovered is encouraging, and, most importantly, we found that the fashionistas amongst us are doing what Santa Cruzans always do—they push the envelope and make a statement that’s unique to them. Incorporating fall fashion into one’s own “look” only furthers the creative expression found by way of what you wear.
Two well-respected local stores, Stripe and Cameron Marks, both express that while they pay attention to and incorporate some fall fashion trends into their store collections, they also wholeheartedly believe in individual expression.
Desiree: Smoking Mirrors, Cocoa Zip Dress (Cameron Marks), $225. Blank Verse bottom cuff, “Golden Thread,” $175. Blank Verse top cuff, “Every Day,” $130. Tights (Target). Clare: James Jeans (Cameron Marks), $115. Wessex Knit Sparkle Over-sized Tee (Cameron Marks), $100. Nuala red leather clutch, $65-$78. Blank Verse arm cast, “Into Midnight Song,” $220. Blank Verse necklace, “Urban Legend,” $325.
“At Stripe, I really stress fashion that’s never going to go out of style,” says Dana Norrell, buyer and manager of Stripe, a store that might remind you of Anthropologie with its vintage/romantic/eclectic offerings. Norrell explains that a Santa Cruz fashionista is someone who will wear something that can transition from day into the night. She notes that slouchy knitwear, embellished pieces, military-inspired items, army green, and cardigans of all sorts are continued trends that “won’t go out of fashion in 10 minutes.” She adds that boots and shooties (shoe booties) are “still going strong,” as well as “oxford booties.”
As for what’s “out,” Vanessa Ambrose, owner of Cameron Marks, says, “It’s really taking on someone else’s style, instead of making fashion your own. … Wear what suits you rather than wearing the trends just because they’re on trend.” As for the fall trends, here you go:
Tops and Bottoms
Norrell from Stripe says that leggings, heels, tights, menswear-inspired dresses, fall colors such as gray, brown, jade, camel, and maroon are especially fashionable colors for the fall. Norrell adds that the nautical look is still strong, paired with military boots. A camel coat is a must have, a cape or poncho are integral, all forms of jeans including the wide leg and boyfriend are still in, and inspired items from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s will be highlighted this fall.
Clare: Lex Designs gray nautical sweatshirt, $75. Nuala hand-dyed chestnut messenger bag, $165-$189. Nuala leather buckled wool socks, $40. DonniCharm scarf, $88. James Jeans (Cameron Marks), $165. Vintage Boots (Moon Zoom). August Mae ring, $22.
Ambrose from Cameron Marks adds that some of the up-and-coming looks include ’50s-era fashion, headlined by full skirts; an “urban country” look that includes boots and a navy tweed jacket; “street safari/military” concepts; chunky sweaters and knits; and tailored shorts with tights and boots.
There is no better season for accessories than fall. Decadent, sumptuous and elegant have lately been trending on the runways of the world, but how will these substantial styles translate into the Santa Cruz fashion scene? According to Laamie Young and Jane Farrar—the dynamic duo behind Blank Verse Jewelry—quite well. “Statement pieces are very in,” Farrar says. “People are relying more on accessories to give them a unique look.” Young adds, “You can be really casual and still have exciting, interesting accessories. It’s an easy style to pull off.”
Desiree: Lex Designs striped top, $110. Level 99 black Wren pants (Stripe), $88. Blank Verse necklace, “Worlds Converge in Broken Mist,” $295. August Mae rings, $22 each.
The creatively charged partners agree that the key pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe this fall are most definitely chunky and visible. Think long earrings and necklaces, pearls, Native American influences, metallics and geometric patterns. For those on a limited budget, heed Young’s advice, “Know yourself and know what you will wear and splurge on.” Whether it be that stunning necklace, a wild pair of earrings or a leather cuff that sets your fashion fires burning, make your purchase count. “It should be strong, interesting and something that makes you happy every time you look at it,” Young says. Permission to start shopping granted.
The best part about fall (for any fashion minded individual, that is) may just be getting to wear boots on a daily basis. Boots have long been the foundation for any chic autumn ensemble, and this season is certainly no exception.
“We’re seeing booties and a lot of riding boots,” says Tatiana Glass, owner of popular local footwear boutique Shoe Fetish. Just flip open the pages of Vogue and glossy black leather booties or a pair of knee-high suede riding boots will peek out to confirm the trend. Were you to purchase only one pair of shoes to get you through the season, Glass would definitely say boots are it, but the style depends on the demands of your daily life. “If you are someone who has to dress up for work, something with a heel may be better for you. Get a pair of boots that fits your day to day lifestyle and they will take you through the fall,” she says.
As in seasons past, skinny jeans artfully tucked into a pair of knee-high leather riding boots is a classic look, or make a sassy change and wear skintight leggings with a pair of sexy suede booties. High heeled or flat, gray or brown, suede or leather—you can’t go wrong if you base your fall wardrobe around a new pair of boots.
Talk to the Hand
Co-op boutique discovers fashionable business model
By Jenna Brogan
It takes a lot of guts to manage a clothing store founded on the credo, “We don’t care about trends,” but Jen McMillan is that manager and Idle Hands is that store. A haven for anyone with a love of vintage, a weakness for the Wild West and a soft spot for all things handmade, Idle Hands has been thriving at the south end of Pacific Avenue since August, 2009. With a name that originated from the saying, “If you’re not using your hands, you’d be getting into trouble,” the store runs like an unofficial co-op with local artists selling their wares at affordable prices. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind skateboards, studded belts, baby clothes, feather earrings, sundresses, leather bracelets or a snazzy pair of cowgirl boots, you can find it here. And the best part is—you don’t have to feel guilty about your purchase: McMillan, who is also a designer, manufactures all of her clothes in Los Angeles and her T-shirt line of eight years, Bandit Brand T-shirts, is completely organic. “I try to be socially and environmentally responsible,” she says. Inspired by music, mountain life and Native American culture, McMillan hopes her timeless clothes will evoke a sense of authenticity and nostalgia that transcends the latest fads.
For a snapshot of what Idle Hands has to offer, check out idlehandsdrygoods.com, or visit their store at 805 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 466-9305.
Local lingerie designer peels back the layers
By Christa Martin
There are a few things women should spend their money on—high thread-count sheets, dreamy perfume, and luxurious lingerie. There’s nothing quite like slipping into an elegant bra and panty set, or a long, soft, flowing robe, or a simple camisole and boy shorts. Whether the undergarments are for yourself or for the eyes of your significant other, lingerie has a powerful impact on us. And that’s where local designer Manuka Sanyal comes in. As the first Santa Cruz designer that we’ve met to venture into the territory of unmentionables, she has to be mentioned in our fashion issue.
Sanyal’s lingerie feels like you’re slipping into something heavenly. By using high-end alternative fabrics like bamboo that she brings in from Long Beach, lace from France, and organic cotton-satin ribbon, and combining those pieces with designs that both flatter and fit a huge variety of women’s bodies, Sanyal has earned praise from people like actress Olivia Wilde of the television show, House. Wilde passed on to GT that she “loves them (items from the Manu lingerie line) and finds them really sexy.”
The irresistible Manu line is sold locally at Cameron Marks, and via online by taking personal orders at manukasanyal.com. The line is girly and flirty, but, most importantly, it’s vastly comfortable. She has an extensive selection that includes bras and panties, sleepwear and bridal undergarments, to lounging around the house garments. It’s “English practicality and French romance, and sort of 1940s Hollywood,” Sanyal says of her line. Prices range from $58 to $350.
“For women, lingerie is important, it’s a necessity,” Sanyal says. “You can’t live without it. It’s a huge part of women’s lives and how they carry themselves, and how attractive they feel. … Providing a woman with something that makes them feel good is what keeps me going.”
The Manu lingerie line is sold locally at Cameron Marks, 402 Ingalls St., No. 7, Santa Cruz, 458-3080, cameronmarks.com. There will be also be a Manu sample sale on Sept. 18 at Twist, 1364 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, 420-1300. For more information or to place an order, visit manukasanyal.com. Photo of Vittoria Bra, $135.
Monterey Bay local creates a line of highflying T-shirts
By Leslie Patrick
Birds have long been a symbol of freedom and power throughout the world. But it’s only been within the past few years that images of our feathered friends have popped up in the world of fashionable self-expression. Whether a delicate bird pendant or a pair of feathered earrings, bird effigies have officially swooped into mainstream style.
Cashing in on this avian trend is Emily Brown, proprietress of the start-up local company Bird Mafia, whose products are sold locally at Stripe. Brown creates retro textile designs using only organic, reused and recycled materials. “I just love the freedom to make whatever comes into my mind,” Brown says. “I prefer to take images and use them in all sorts of different ways. Through crafts and fashion I can make it more affordable.” She explains that while many people may not be able to afford to bring a fine art piece into their home, a pillow or a T-shirt with an artistic image on it can be just as unique—and often much more attainable.
Brown began Bird Mafia only a year ago, but the line—which includes house wares and accessories in addition to the tees—is quickly taking flight. “At the core I am a paper cutter, so all my prints are cut paper, and then I burn them into the screens that I print onto textiles,” Brown says. “The designs translate well into clothing and home items, and it’s a way to get my art out in different forms.” Considering that fashion is one of the most personal forms of self-expression, flaunting a bird to represent stylistic freedom makes perfect sense.
Bird Mafia T-shirts are available locally at Stripe, 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, stripedesigngroup.com, or online at etsy.com/shop/birdmafia.
Put a Ring On It
It’s About Fingers for August Mae Designs
By Christa Martin
Beyonce sings, “put a ring on it,” and that’s exactly what Santa Cruz women have been doing lately with rings by August Mae Designs. The jewelry is so eye-catching that customers have been gobbling them up at local retailer Stripe. Combining a romantic, vintage, modern aesthetic, the two creative artists behind this company have stumbled upon the ultimate cocktail ring.
Meet Jan Huckins and Sarah York, longtime friends and creative collaborators. The duo got their start recently when they decided to start piecing together items they found at antique stores, garage sales, and even the local dump. “Most materials are pieces of jewelry that we have taken apart and turned into a wearable piece of art,” Huckins says.
The one-of-a-kind designs have a wide market appeal—from teenage girls to vintage fashionistas. The impetus for starting this line began with finding a cocktail ring at, of all places—Target. “We were talking about how much we love big rings and how we could do something like that,” York says. And so they did just that. Combing through buttons, earrings, and broaches, they happened upon a beautiful assortment of goods to use in a reinvention process, turning old jewelry into new jewelry. It was a hit.
The pair hopes to continue expanding their line with necklaces, headbands, and earrings. Currently, their rings sell for $22. So, while you’re looking around for something new that’s really old, put a ring on it.
August Mae Designs sell at Stripe, 107 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 421-9252, stripedesigngroup.com, or etsy.com/shop/augustmaedesigns.
By Christa Martin
Fashion Editor’s note: For years, GT has been covering the arts in this town extensively. From painters and filmmakers, to writers, sculptors, dancers and musicians. This year, we decided to expand our coverage to the fashion and jewelry designers amongst our talented local artists. What we have discovered is that our town is on the cusp of something great. Locals are producing cutting-edge frocks and baubles that are garnering nation-wide attention. From the Dixie Chicks to Project Runway, our designers are in big demand. Here are a few of our stars:
Terry McInerney of Nuala
When GT found this ‘bag lady’ she was already proving to be an inspiration in the world of handbags. With a precise eye toward practicality and fashion, McInerney’s impacting purses, messenger bags, and leather accessories have been selling at a rapid rate at Stripe in Downtown Santa Cruz. Since GT wrote about her earlier this year, McInerney’s independent company has been blossoming—she was one of the main stars at Stripe’s “Thistle in the Kiss” fashion show this summer; she has expanded her line of leather goods to include rapturous vintage-inspired leather cuffs, belts, fanny packs, journals and more. Look for her at numerous upcoming Bay Area fashion invents including the Stockings and Stilettos designer show on Dec. 8. etsy.com/shop/nualaleather.
Jane Farrar and Laamie Young of Blank Verse Jewelry
Since these two women sat on the floor of a living room more than a year ago and pieced together some beads and lace, their careers as the masterminds behind Blank Verse Jewelry have taken off—at a stunning rate. With fans like Helena Bonham Carter, the Dixie Chicks, and Melissa Etheridge, and with features in magazines like Women’s Health touting their jewelry, and a contract with Anthropologie, they are fast becoming the “go to” duo in stunning earrings, necklaces, cuffs, gloves, and so much more. The television show Pretty Little Liars recently used their work in a photo shoot; they’re working with renowned stylists, and, locally, their work is sold at Cameron Marks. Keep your eyes open in the major magazines, there’s no doubt that Blank Verse is anything but blank. Blankversejewelry.com.
Alexis Meschi of Lex Designs
“Made by Lex,” and “Covered in Love.” Those are the mottos of Santa Cruz’s own Alexis Meschi, whom GT earlier this year dubbed our town’s “It Girl.” When we ran a feature on Meschi’s work, which is sold locally at Stripe, days later the young designer, who’s a mother to three girls, was contacted by Project Runway and asked to apply for their next season. And while she didn’t land a slot on the show, her career is taking off at infinite proportions. She headlined Stripe’s “Thistle in the Kiss” fashion show, she’s getting press every which way, she gets 140,000 monthly visitors to her blog, madebylex.com, and she served as the stylist and photographer for this year’s Good Times Fashion Issue. Everything she’s doing is, indeed, “covered in love.” Madebylex.com.
Eco-friendly never looked so good
By Nola B. Frances
Hemp may grow like a weed (fast, strong and abundantly), but it’s far from being weed (while in the Cannabis genus, it lacks in THC, the active ingredient in marijuana). Our founding fathers loved the stuff—they ate it, wore it, cleaned with it and cultivated it in mass quantities. As we move into an ever eco-friendlier era, hemp is gaining in popularity because of its “green” qualities, and hip eco-designers are turning out hemp fashions that are a far cry from the drab burlap we picture the likes of Franklin and Jefferson wearing.
Eco Goods on Pacific Avenue has long been the Santa Cruz standby for finding style with a small footprint—and you can’t get a much smaller eco-footprint than with hemp. It does not require herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers to grow; it helps regenerate soil; aids in weed suppression; and requires only one-twentieth the water needed to grow cotton. If Mother Nature wore clothes, they’d surely be made from hemp.
Among Eco Goods’ best offers is gear from the Livity Outernational line, which touts young, bright and bold hemp fashions in everything from hats to swim trunks. Livity co-owner Melissa Collins considers the company an artistic advocate for the repressed plant. “I care about the environment and know the ‘true cost’ of conventional apparel,” she says. “Fashion is an attention grabber, so we use it to spread the message about hemp.”
Santa Cruz-based clothing line (and nonprofit) No Enemy is another provocateur of hemp and organic cotton designs, offering comfy, stylish, statement-making tees and hoodies.
Especially noteworthy is Synergy, a new downtown store with a wealth of harmonious finds. Featuring beautiful, nature-inspired designs made from a hemp/organic cotton blend, their colorful fall line will let you wear your values on your sleeve (literally), and look fabulous while doing it.
Photo credit: Olivia Hearley. Dress: Synergy’s Two Tone Halter Dress, made from 65 percent hemp and 35 percent organic cotton and dyed with low-impact dyes.
Obsessive Beauty in Print
By Leslie Patrick
Since my fellow writer Christa Martin and I began to pen our blog “Obsessive Beauty” on GT’s website back in March, we have waxed rhapsodic about everything from skin perfecting potions to glamorous cocktail rings to decadent chocolate creations. We have scoured well-known boutiques and unearthed some of the more hidden gems in Santa Cruz—and even as far away as New York City—in an effort to bring you the most obsession-worthy goodies we can find. And don’t worry, our quest is far from over.
Fall is nearly upon us and with the changing of the seasons comes a changing of the wardrobe and, thus, an entirely new array of obsessions. We live in a beach town, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t break out the sweaters, scarves and gloves when the thermometer dips. Christa and I are already on the prowl to find the perfect pair of knee-high boots, that wear-with-everything cardigan, the best cool weather skin care products, and, well … you get the idea. Check in frequently because we are always finding something new and exciting to be obsessive over—and we think you will too.
Check out Obsessive Beauty at goodtimessantacruz.com, visit blogs, and then click on Obsessive Beauty.
Win It and Wear It
ANNOUNCEMENT: Because this contest has been such a hit, GT will be running a weekly fashion/beauty giveway contest on the Obsessive Beauty blog. Check back next week to enter to win the first prize.
Free Giveaways: Like what you saw in the pages of GT’s fashion issue?
Then things will only get better for you. For the first time ever, we’re offering a slew of free giveaways, items featured in this fashion issue, all for free.
Go to goodtimessantacruz.com to the Obsessive Beauty blog, and leave a comment on the Fall Fashion blog. Or, go to the Fashion Issue cover story online and leave a comment. Tell us what you were obsessed about from the fashion issue and you’ll be entered to win one of the following prizes (below). Deadline is Aug. 12. Winners announced Aug. 13.
Haircut from Gina Bokariza of Urban Groove Hair Salon * Hair products from Urban Groove Hair Salon * One-of-a-kind earrings from Blank Verse Jewelry * A vintage-inspired ring from August Mae Designs * A classic Lex Designs T-shirt (white with a black and yellow ruffle) * Hand-made earrings from Stripe. * A leather cuff with a vintage broach from Nuala * A $50 gift certificate from Cameron Marks * A T-shirt from Idle Hands Boutique * A sample size cosmetics product from Beauty 360 Santa Cruz and a free skin consultation * Bird Mafia T-shirt * A pair of pajamas from Manu.
Buy it Here
The work of the following designers featured in the fashion issue can be purchased in local stores or online:
Blank Verse – Available at Cameron Marks or blankverse.com
Lex Designs – Available at Stripe or madebylex.com
Nuala Leather – Available at Stripe or etsy.com/shop/nualaleather
DonniCharm – Scarves available at donnicharm.com
August Mae Rings – Available at Stripe or etsy.com/shop/augustmaedesigns
Manu lingerie – Available at Cameron Marks and manukasanyal.com
Bird Mafia – Available at Stripe
Bandit Brand T-shirts – Available at Idle Hands Boutique
Hemp clothing – Available at Synergy and Eco Goods
Photography and styling: Alexis Meschi
Fashion Editor: Christa Martin
Beauty 360, Santa Cruz
All makeup products:
Sold at Beauty 360, Santa Cruz
Gina Bokariza of
Urban Groove Hair Salon, Santa Cruz
Stripe, Lex Designs,
Blank Verse and August Mae Designs
Leather Accessories: Nuala