When Fashion is a Calling

It appeared to occur so naturally, organically.  1984. A snowy, cold Christmas morning.  I awoke to find multiple presents laying under the tree, two of which were filled with clothes. In one box was the most hideous outfit you have ever seen, a polyester suit, heavy and the ugliest pink.  I remember my mother making me try it on.  As the fabric hit my skin, I wanted to rip it off.  As I stared at myself in the bathroom mirror , that suit stared back at me.  The revulsion rose up from my stomach, to my heart, and finally my brain. I could not take that outfit on my body any longer. Just when I thought it must come off, I heard my mother begging from the living room to get a picture of the “wonderful suit.”  The pain in that smile lives on forever.

After I pulled off the ridiculous outfit, I opened my next present.  I shrieked in delight.  It was a blue sweatsuit. All over the sweats (pants and hoodie) were triangle sized zippers.  As I began to unzip, the brightest colors came bursting out.  Each zipper revealed a different neon color, a collection of tiny triangles all over the sweatsuit, each color more vibrant than the next.

This was my birth of becoming a fashionista.

You see, I had always loved clothes.  Princess dresses, jewelry, my favorite skirt. But this was the moment that I realized there were good clothes and bad clothes.  That clothes were not fashion or style, but simply the avenue in which one gets there.

Once this realization was made, I attempted to save my allowance and begged my parents give me money to spend at TJ Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory. I would search those aisles for the best deals, styles, and finds for the elementary, middle schooler, and high schooler I was. Seventeen magazine became my bible, with the September issue being my god. I couldn’t wait for school to start, only because I couldn’t wait for school clothes shopping. I would meticulously think and ponder . What would that first outfit look like? The mixing and matching would crowd my brain.

In college, I went off the deep end for Gwen Stefani.  I became a punk rock princess.  I needed to have her clothes, her rock hard abs, her incredible platinum hair, everything. My magazine habit became out of control: Vogue, Elle, Lucky, InStyle, and Allure.  Lucky and Instyle became the practical pages full of sticky notes. Vogue, the artistic mind trip down fashion lane.

Now years later, being a professional mom, when everything could take a backseat to my family, career, and getting older, fashion has become more expressive and exciting than any other time in my life.  I’m in a place where I feel confident, about my style and body.  Fashion is freeing and easy.  It has become a sensory experience like no other.

If any of this sounds vaguely familiar, then this is your story as well. The stores, inspirations, and role models might be different, but the feeling remains the same. Fashion is in our blood and oozes from our pores. It’s what makes us swoon over Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford.  Mourn when Alexander leaves us too soon.  Gush with delight when Karl brings out lion statues and giant fountains.  We know why Rachel fired Taylor, we cried when Brad left, and rejoiced to hear he got his own show. And understand that Grace Coddington is the artist behind Vogue.

We know what it’s like to be different and stand out, to be scared and proud all at once.  We are teachers, waitresses, assistants, secretaries, business owners, dentists, doctors, professors, baristas, and accountants. The regular guys and girls not working in fashion, but dream of leaving it all to do it.

Each week I’m going to give our perspective, the “born with it” crowd. This is what it means to be proud about loving the art of fashion, to never feel guilty or strange. All of us have a strikingly similar story on our fashion path, the rise and fall of each personal fashion moment. We may all look different, but deep down we are the same.  We are the fashionistas, unite.

Much Love,

Harper Leo

7 Comments

  1. I love that Christmas story of yours…and i remember when i was back in high school,my time to shine was on b-days just because i had 3 classes with the guy i like and i just wanted to impress him with my ‘sense of style’.I think that uncle Karl or ‘Kaiser’ has lost it,i used to love Chanel but now it’s just a little boring but Dior is still sexy,chic and flamboyant..and Elie Saab is the most romantic designer there.

    I’m so proud of you,this is a great article and i can’t wait to read more.

    P.S..i love Gwen too,i just don’t like the fact that she bleaches Kingston hair.
    Have a nice day

  2. HarperLeo says:

    OMG! She dyed his hair?! Oh that is very wrong, now that I know that, I’m like of course I should know that!

    I’m still in love with Karl, I just loved his last two shows, the fabrics and colors were fantastic. I’m protesting Dior, even though they fired JG, I just can’t support them at all knowing his anti-Semitic tirade. Love Saab, her prints and fabrics are incredible.

    Thank you so much darling you are the sweetest and your story rang so true fo me as well, I think I did that more than once. You gave me giggles and smiles!

    Love, HL

    1. Yes,she does,which is sad,cause he is a very handsome boy…Yes,the Chanel shows are amazing,but the clothes are boring…

      I love Dior,and i won’t defend JG because what he said was very wrong but i watched the video and not only was he drunk,he was provoked,and even as a french,i can guarantee you that the teens and young adults there are the rudest,poor Eric is always complaining about their use of vile language…as for JG,funny that they mostly showed the part where he was insulting them…like i said i don’t defend him but they were all at fault.

      i can’t wait for the next article.

  3. Julia Rockefeller says:

    HarperLeo is my daughter and the article was very accurate and true to her life. She has always loved fashion and has her own unique sense of style. The 80’s produced some quite hedious fashions. Sorry about that outfit. It was a sign of the times. We have all worn those “fauxs” throughout the years. She also has great advice on style even for her Mom.

    I loved reading her article and look forward to the next one. Her creative nature and style is and will be infectious to anyone who enjoys fashion. Great style has no age limits!
    Kudos to my daughter! Julia

  4. Aw, your mom is so cute!

    I think mine came at my 1st pair of adorable shoes that I never wanted to take off. & then i realized I needed fantastic clothes to match my new shoes. 🙂

    Congrats on this blog – I love it!

  5. I love this story! It is a story that celebrates the renaissance of a young woman seeking her fashion unique identity in a fashion critical world. I celebrate you and all the fashionistas like you. Your fashion statement is made with confidence and style. You owe no apologies. You not only talk the talk but walk the walk!

    Your fashion guidance allows one to concentrate on the issues at hand all the while, being comfortable and confident in her own fashion and flair. There is enough to worry about besides your presentation. You give voice and guidance will benefit many. Kudos to you for your amazing and insight voice!

  6. errata: you give = Your gift of voice and guidance will benefit many.

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