Let Fashion Transform You

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” —Bill Cunningham

“Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.” —Lauren Hutton

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” —Rachel Zoe

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn”
― Orson Welles

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One of the most satisfying things about fashion, is how it enables us to transform ourselves over and over again.  In a chameleon-like way, we can express all the different sides of our personality by shining a spot-light on a specific part of ourselves through the clothes we choose to put on.  We can visit different eras in history and through styling the fashions of the time, we get a taste of the energy of that time and get to experience the feeling of that moment in history. We can also mix and match eras with our fashion and create a new energy and feeling that is all our own, or try on a lifestyle we don’t have just to see how it might feel. The clothes we wear can also allow us ease in manoeuvring through the variety of places, people, and circumstances we find ourselves in. I have found that my ability to adapt my style to the company I’m keeping, places I visit, or events I attend has been invaluable to me, and it’s also half the fun! Fashion allows us to wear our feelings on the outside if we want to, or to change our mood when we start the day in a funk and want to turn that around.

You can almost always tell how I am feeling or what type of mood I am in by what I’m wearing.  The process of getting dressed in the morning is so much more than just covering my body with coordinated clothing.  It is about tuning into how I’m feeling, or how I’d like to feel, checking in with myself and becoming aware of what traits of mine are feeling amplified.  I dress to the dominant characteristics that come through with the mood I’m in each day.  Some days I’m subdued and all I want is comfort and ease.  Some days spike heels and a push-up bra feel like my second skin. Sometimes I’m wacky and contrasting because I’m feeling artistic or counter culture.  Some days I’m just in jeans and a t-shirt, although admittedly, this is pretty rare for me. Some days I like to push the bar with a provacative attitude that says, “just try and question me on this look!  I dare you!”

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I think that it’s important for people not to get too attached to a specific style or look that they identify with, or they may begin to feel uncomfortable when they aren’t wearing it.  What I mean to say is, are you wearing your clothes or are your clothes wearing you?  Is your comfort so tied to the style you’ve adopted that you are no longer expressing certain sides of yourself?  Is your inner vamp being stifled by your black skinny jeans and t-shirt?  Are you afraid of colour or contrast because you are afraid you’ll attract too much attention to yourself? Are you becoming less adventurous in life because every time you go out you wear your little black dress instead of trying something new?  Does our lack of adventurousness in life cause a lack of adventurousness in our style, or is it the other way around?  Hmmm.  I would hazard a guess that if you took more chances with your style, it would positively impact your life.  I’m going to take the plunge and even suggest that being more adventurous and allowing your style to better reflect your feelings on a daily basis would have a dramatic positive effect on how you feel about yourself and that it will translate into a more positive life experience.  The clothes you choose to put on every morning can empower you tremendously and transform your life, or they can drain you and sap you of your motivation.  You have to admit that you feel exceptionally different in sweat pants and a hoodie than you do in a dress and heels, and I’m not talking about physical comfort.  I’m talking about the energy created by how you feel about yourself in one look versus another.  One of these looks leads to adventure and who knows what, and the other leads to Netflix and chips.

Sometimes you just need to push your own boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone. Even the simple addition of a scarf or other accessories to a very basic outfit can be an incredible energetic mood boost. Each one of us is made up of all kinds of personality traits, and moods that are equally a part of us.  If you aren’t already, I strongly urge you to play with your style and express some of those sides of yourself, if for no other reason than just to have FUN!  That is what fashion and style is really all about in the end.  It’s not meant to be intimidating and serious.  It’s about creation and exploration and self expression at it’s core.  It’s a tool.  It’s the paint and your body is the canvas.  Have some fun, get creative and let those hidden sides of yourself shine forth. It’s so simple, yet so incredibly liberating!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

STYLING, HAIR & MAKEUP BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

THRIFTED FASHION: Traditional Scottish wool plaid skirt from Ruby Slipper, Boots from The Goodwill Store.

MODERN FASHION:Gold body suit and tights by American Apparel, feather earrings from The Haberdashery

VINTAGE: Faux fur leopard print jacket

 

 

Nerd is the New Cool in NYC!

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New York City, shot from Empire State Building

I just got home from a 5 day trip to New York City with my Husband, Gregory Chomichuk.  We were there to promote and sell his work as a writer/illustrator of graphic novels and all-ages books at the New York Comic Con. It was 4 really intense days with 150 000 fans dedicated to all things sci-fi, fantasy, and super-heros!  Some were there to buy comics, art prints and toys, some were there to test out the newest video game designs and some were there to meet the celebrities who work on their favourite T.V. shows and movies like Milla Jovovich, Carrie Fisher, Ethan Hawke, Kate Beckinsale, Keanu Reeves, and the cast of The Walking Dead and Stranger Things, to name a few.

The juxtaposition of being immersed in the heart of nerd culture for 12 hours a day in one of the coolest and most admired cities in the world was a mad mind trip to say the least. There were people of all ages, demographics and walks of life all there to celebrate a common love that seems to speak to every type of person. One second I would be talking super-heros with a teenage cosplayer decked out in a costume that must have taken weeks to create, and the next, with a t.v. crew member who’s currently working on several Netflix shows, and then an Emmy nominated creative director/producer who’s worked on several HBO t.v. shows, produced concerts by Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones and worked with Disney. Each of them bought art and books from my Husband. Say whaaat?! Never have I been in a situation where perceived opposite sub-cultures interacted and blissed out together so seamlessly.  It was inspiring and humbling to be a part of!

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Gregory and I at his Comic Con booth

“In New York, you’ve got Donald Trump, Woody Allen, a crack addict and a regular Joe, and they’re all on the same subway car.” – Ethan Hawke

“I love nerds. Comic-Con junkies are the tastemakers of tomorrow. Isn’t that funny? The tables have turned.”  – Kristen Bell

“What was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into – it just means you’re not a follower.”  – Kristen Bell

New York City is a sexy beast, there’s no doubt about that!  I have never been happier to be in a city that truly doesn’t sleep so that I got an opportunity to see some sights, eat some amazing food and flow with the pulse of the city into the wee hours every night after the convention.  Some cities shut down after 11:00 p.m. on a weekday, so there’s no chance to see anything other than the inside of your hotel room. New York is definitely not that kind of city.  We ate dinner at 9 p.m., strolled through Times Square shoulder to shoulder with hoards of people at midnight, hung out on the rooftop of the Empire State Building at 12:30 and then had a dance party…I mean shopped, at H&M at 1:00 in the morning.  Followed by a quick stop at a busy grocery store for healthy snacks for the next days convention, and back to the comfort of our hotel The Staybridge Suites to finally put up our aching feet and crash from blissed-out exhaustion.

My entire New York experience can be summed up in one word.  Diversity.  I saw and met every kind of person in a chaotic fast-passed haze.  I talked fan-art politics, super heroes and fashion in the same conversation. I had dinner one night with a filmmaker, and a 5th generation New Yorker who introduced us to the best pizza in the world, and then was invited to a loft apartment to smoke weed (which I didn’t)  with a Harry Potter star (who shall remain unnamed).  We walked passed beautiful people in designer clothes, homeless drug addicts, regular folks who were more than willing to recommend great places to eat, and every once in a while, a storm trooper.

All in all, it was an experience steeped in humanity.  It was all about people.  Lots and lots of people, all living life and being their unapologetic selves in a city where anything goes, and you are free to be yourself. We are all in this together after all.

NEW YORK CITY

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THE HOTEL

THE NEW YORK COMIC CON

THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

PHOTOGRAPHY and VIDEO BY: Gregory Chomichuk and yours truly. All on my iPhone 6, raw and un-edited.

THRIFTED: Hats, jackets, palazzo pants and yellow skirt.

FEATURED FASHION: Lennard Taylor Brenda swing shirt, Tony Chestnut pink jumpsuit, American Apparel body suit, and my Dr Marten boots that went the distance on this trip and saved my feet!

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The Spectre of Self

Spec*tre

a ghost.

  • something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurance

e.g. “the spectre of war”

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“We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.” – Phil McGraw

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” – Jim Morrison

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to honestly be yourself.  Being who we truly are begins to be socialized out of us in early childhood.  We learn how to please others because we are taught that pleasing others is more important than pleasing ourselves.  We are taught that we are better people if we put ourselves aside and present to the world what the world wants us to be.  We learn how to wear masks to suite the people, places and situations in our lives.  We learn that being ourselves can be excruciatingly painful, because being ourselves makes us vulnerable.  If they see our true colours, they can criticize us, laugh at us, or reject us.  We are social creatures, so we begin to believe that fitting in and being the same is safer and more comfortable. The truth is, it causes more damage to us and those around us than being ourselves ever will.  When we are our truest selves we have so much more to offer the world that only we can give.  Wearing masks to protect our vulnerability dims the powerful light that is within each of us and weakens our ability to let it out and benefit the world.

So we suppress our truest spirit.  We put on a brave face when we are scared, a happy face when we are sad, an agreeable face when we are angry.  We pretend that we like things that we don’t, we compromise when we are fundamentally opposed to something that’s important to us, and we tell ourselves that we are being nice, and keeping the peace.  We wouldn’t want to rock the boat now would we?  But is it actually being nice and keeping the peace, or are we just trading the potential conflict with others with a very real and very immediate conflict within ourselves?  We are so afraid of what others might think of us, that we have given them all the power and have placed more significance on what they think than what we think of ourselves, and it slowly eats at our spirit.  In reality, we end up more lonely, isolated and insignificant by letting that fear rule us, than we would be if we just allowed ourselves to be authentic.

I am not saying that we should all air our dirty laundry, or go around telling everyone the details of our exceptionally crappy day when they ask how we are.  You can be real without being negative, complaining or wallowing in self pity. You can look your unhappiness or discomfort in the face, admit to it, talk to a friend or loved-one about it and then, put your energy into a solution. I do believe in the power of positivity.  I do believe in looking for the good in all situations, and I do believe in compromise for the greater good.  I don’t however, believe that these things should be done when they are in direct conflict with your truest self.  If the foot you put forward for the world to see requires you to lie to yourself about who you are and how you really feel, you do the world a great dis-service.

It’s time to throw off the veil.  Time to come out of the shadows and let the world see you.  Time to take off all the different masks we wear and be brave enough to look criticism and conflict in the eye and realize that avoiding it is not more important and less painful than being honest with yourself and finding your true place in the world.  The world needs you.  The authentic you.  The most beautiful part of this is that all we really want is love and belonging and the more of us that throw off the veil, the more authentic people there will be in the world to have real and meaningful relationships with.  The more we allow ourselves to be known, the more we allow others to be known.  Freedom and authenticity are contagious.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE: White dresses, shawls and scarves from The Goodwill Store in Winnipeg

CRYSTALS and STONES: Shakti in Winnipeg

Alpine Chill

Climb every mountain, search high and low,
Follow every byway, every path you know.

Climb every mountain, ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ’till you find your dream.

A dream that will need,  all the love you can give,
Every day of your life, for as long as you live

                                                              – Climb Every Mountain lyrics, from The Sound Of Music Film

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

I believe we are currently living in a time that will be known in history as a turning point by our descendants.  It is a transformative time where people are waking up and shaking themselves off, like hibernating bears in the spring.  We are starting to respond to that nagging feeling that there is so much more to life and so much more potential in each of us that we have been suppressing and ignoring in order to maintain our mainstream lifestyles and not rock the boat.  We are afraid to be questioned or challenged by friends, family and peers, but the desire to live our dreams is beginning to outweigh the judgment and fear. People are getting off the treadmill of a lifestyle they have been told is the proper way to live and they are asking themselves, “what now?”.  The good news, is that we are not alone.  Many of us are questioning things and changing the way we live to create a more fulfilling life.  A  creative life that is more specific to our personal interests and values and less cookie cutter.  Some people think it’s weird to be different, or alternative.  If you stray from conventional ideals, you are eccentric and strange.  But I ask you, is it not more strange to be exactly like everyone else? Should we all work 9-5, live in a house just like your neighbour’s, drive the same kind of SUV, watch TV every night and shop on the weekends?  Keeping up with the Jones’s, in many ways, has put our creativity and natural uniqueness into hibernation.  It’s time for us to wake up!  It’s time to re-connect with our truest selves and each other.  It’s time to stop being afraid of the make-believe consequences and go after the stuff our dreams are made of.  I believe the world needs us to do this!  Future generations need to be inspired and to make different choices than we have made to improve this world we live in.    I for one, would like to be part of that movement.  If you already know who you truly are, and you know what your heart truly desires, GO FOR IT!  If you are floundering and have no idea what blows your hair back, SEARCH FOR IT!  Search high and low.  Keep your eyes and ears open and be present in every moment.  Notice what gets you excited and fires you up and follow that feeling.  Create that feeling wherever and whenever you can, and it will lead you to your dreams.  And when you’ve found that thing that makes your heart sing, do it as often as possible. Be present with it and then SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD! The world needs you and whatever it is that only you can do, in your unique way.  You will be part of the turning point where history changed and the world became a better place.

So here I am.  Talking from personal experience.  I worked in the Environmental Science industry with Engineers, Scientists and Researchers for a decade.  I quit it all to stay home and raise my two sons.  I quit the income, lifestyle, benefits and everything that goes along with it.  When I got off the treadmill, my life came to a screeching halt. The silence was deafening and the stillness, terrifying.  And in all that quiet stillness, I finally heard myself and all that I truly wanted.  I stopped listening to convention and I started listening to myself.

Now, I’m a Fashion Stylist and Blogger, modelling in these photos a wacky combination of 1940’s Bavarian Alps fashion and 1970’s retro ski bunny glam, and I’m IN LOVE!  I’m totally in my element and having a blast!  I love everything about what I am spending my time doing and I am fully present in these photos. I’m not in a rush to get anywhere.  I am enjoying the ride and the experience. I’m hearing the birds, feeling the freezing cold air on my skin, enjoying the wilderness and fading sun and in wonder at how the heck I got here, and why the heck I didn’t do this sooner! Life is supposed to be fun!

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

Photo by Michael Sanders

 

Photography by: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

Styling, Hair and Makeup by: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

Current/On Trend: Necklace and earrings by Metalsan Jewelry (also available at McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg); Bavarian style harness, custom design by Rampant Design; Boots by Dr Martens; Gold bodysuit by American Apparel (currently on sale!).

Vintage: Red scarf; Faux fur hat; 1970’s sweater; Leather gloves; Men’s wool Jodhpur-style trousers and German tall socks (Huge thanks to Ryan Bartel of Rampant Design for lending me the pants and socks and for all your beautiful leatherwork creations); Bamboo ski polls (Thanks Dad!).

THANK YOU: To Amber van den Broek, Realtor extraordinaire and Hostess of the always amazing Annual SNOWBALL fundraising event in Winnipeg! Our discussion about this year’s ALPINE CHILL theme for your fundraising event was the inspiration for this photo shoot.  Winnipeggers, DO NOT miss the 4th annual Snowball: Alpine Chill, in support of the Green Action Centre, on Saturday, January 16th at the German Pavilion.  This event is always an amazing time, with incredible performers, music, and a live art battle. All for a good cause!  I will see you there Winnipeg!!!

Instagram: @patronofdreams

Facebook: Patron of Dreams

Twitter: @taracmccaffrey