How Losing 90 Pounds, Horseback Riding and Yoga Helped Me Help Me Find Myself, My Life’s Story and My Personal Style
In 2002, I left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles. I didn’t want to be one of those girls that had never experienced the world and lived in another city. When I got off the plane at LAX that January, I was greeted by 60 degrees, a bright sun, palm trees and people who looked like they’d just walked off the cover of magazines. I was intimidated. Physically, I was nothing like the svelte figures that surrounded me. In fact, I was obese. At five feet tall, I weighed 218 pounds. In 2007, I decided to change my life, and spent three years losing over 90 pounds. That decision was the catalyst which started my 13-year journey to find myself – inwardly and outwardly. One of the things that made my journey so interesting was how the changes manifested inwardly and then outwardly through my wardrobe. Here are the five things that I learned about myself through style:
Invest in the Basics First, Starting with Handbags
Weight loss is about permanent habit change, and learning new behavior takes time. In order to be successful, you have to start with the basics. It’s the same with your clothing. When you was lose weight, you constantly have to refresh your wardrobe. During that time, I didn’t want spend a ton of money on clothing that I knew would eventually go to local Los Angeles thrift shop Out of the Closet. I also used this time to invest in five key handbags that would never lose their luster in my eyes. My OrYany black satchel, Hayden-Harnett tote, two Tumi briefcases and Khirma Eliazov python and stingray clutch are still in rotation to this day. The only bags left are a Chanel 2.55 and a Birkin, but I’m saving those for my 38th and 40th birthdays.
Make a Statement Through Accessories
Fitness is about finding a foundation, and expanding it through add-ons that keep you inspired and motivated. It’s the same with a basic wardrob. Find what you like wear, and then dimensionalize it through accessories. As I learned to mix high and low in order to maximize the use of the clothing I had, the power of vintage and antique jewelry materialized. From the annual set sale on the Warner Bros. movie lot, finds at Melrose Trading Post, the Long Beach Flea Market and various antique stores I found while travelling, I’ve amassed a collection of jewelry that makes many of my fashion friends proud. One of my favorite finds is the necklace I’m wearing in this photo. I got it for $35 at It’s A Current Affair. I get offers all the time for 15 times what I paid for it, which makes me treasure it even more.
Boots Were Made for More than Walking
Once I’d lost 50 pounds, I had to take my workout routine to the next level to keep up my progress. It was the same with my wardrobe. My next step towards developing my personal style was in making more statements, but this time with my footwear. So, I started to invest in ridiculously cool shoes. That phase lasted for about two years. I realized that my feet and my wallet were taking a beating, thanks to Maison Martin Margiela, Chloe, Lanvin, Marc Jacobs and others.
At this time, I began riding horses again and started practicing Yoga. I rescued a horse and built his rehabilitation into my exercise routine. Statement shoes became impractical for a horse riding yogi. That’s when I switched to boots. On any given day, you will find me in Ariat knee high riding boots and cowboy boots or Baker + Fiorentini moto boots (the Ella is my favorite style). Boots work for my lifestyle because I can wear them to work or in my leisure time. However, I’m still a slave to Margiela Tabi toe ballet flats, and often rock them at red carpet and black tie events.
Dresses Make the Woman
Three years into my weight loss, while I had accomplished a lot, and like many people who have undergone massive weight loss, Body Dysmorphic Disorder was an issue for me. While I was making statements in the accessories and footwear departments, it is why I had been conservative in my apparel. I had been using clothing to hide my figure because all I saw were flaws. By 2013, I finally tamed those dragons.
One day, I was interviewing Audrey Fisher, the costume designer for True Blood, on character design, and she said, “Fashion explores and enhances the personality of an individual. Fashion communicates personal style within a social environment, whereas costume design attempts to uncover the truth of a character within a narrative world.”
What she said struck a chord; what I was wearing did not fit her definition of what fashion is. I was actually designing my story; attempting to uncover my truth in the narrative of my life. And that’s where dresses came in. Instead of continuing to cover up, I uncovered myself. I overhauled my closet with dresses: short dresses, long dresses and skirts of all patterns, textures and styles. Dresses are figure-flattering on me, and I felt that they helped express my story. From one-of-a-kind finds from Singapore to vintage brands like Jax (a favorite of Marilyn Monroe) to Bailey44 and Cameo, I now live in dresses and skirts – often worn with NUX yoga capris.
Fashions Fade, but Style is Eternal
Dresses, boots, vintage jewelry and key basics; these four components not only make up my personal style, but they are props in the story that I’m telling with my life. Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” He was right. For most of our lives, we follow trends. At some point, we should stop following them and start making our own patterns, thus developing ways of living that go against what everyone else is doing. When we do this, we are able to move beyond what is “fashionable” and start to architect stories that round out the rich narrative of our lives. These dimensional expressions are seen in all we do – not just in the clothing we wear. And that’s those become the stories that Hollywood wants to tell.