Monday, November 30, 2015

Women and clothes: Lydia Goossens

I've met Lydia Goossens only once. And in that afternoon she immediately struck me with her aura: sweet, kind, quirky, very creative, with a hint of the deliciously mischievous.

Isn't it fascinating how much you can gather from a stranger in just one mental snapshot -- whether in conversation to the way she carries herself to how she dresses? I had lunch with Lydia last summer (with a mutual friend) and I remember appreciating her distinct style. The multi-colored, stylishly jagged haircut. Ruby red lips. Black t-shirt, black skinny jeans, black cardigan, black nail polish. I think she even wore little black fairy wings (or was that my imagination?). 

Since our lunch date in LA, I've learned Lydia is just as passionate and authentic as I guessed her to be. She advocates for people with disabilities and serves as program director for an adult day services facility in Los Angeles. 

"Hopefully I can be an encouragement to people who cross paths with mine," says the Ohio/Pennsylvania native. "I want people to feel loved and to be free to be who they were meant to be."


Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): Does fashion matter? Why or why not?
Lydia Goossens (LG): Fashion matters more to some people than to others. It depends on where they live, what is going on in their lives at the moment, where their priorities need to be at the time. I think that fashion is a way to express one's creativity and taste. It is a form of art. It generates inspiration and ideas.

However, what is currently "in fashion" should not dictate what one wears. Who cares what's "in" in fashion? Wear what makes your heart smile because that will be something that you can pull off. 

Fashion and style can be community building, too. I like to go in to certain boutiques and shops here in LA where there's a personal connection with the owners or workers. There is a store I like to go to in Burbank called Iconic Vintage. The owner, Jess, is amazing. Simply being in her shop and striking up conversations with other women -- a community is built. I love Jess's heart. She wants women to feel beautiful and awesome and to encourage that community. She's encouraging to every person who sets foot in her store. 

JCS: Is there a difference between fashion and style?
LG: Hmmm. Good question. Yes. Something may be in fashion but it may not be someone's style. We all have our different styles that may or may not be dictated by what's currently considered to be "fashionable." Style is one's own personal fashion. Fashion can be the building block to inspire one's own look. I personally like things from every era so I don't subscribe to one "look."

JCS: I love this look (above)! It's like you stepped out of a time machine from the 1920s. Tell me about it. Where were you and what inspired the outfit?
LG: Thanks! I was at a friend's wedding. I found the dress, liked how it looked, and thought that I'd pull together that 20s look with pieces I had at home. I thought it would look classic and charming for the wedding. How many people dress up like they did in the 20s-50s? People dressed UP, even when going into town to run errands! They wore hats, gloves, etc. We're a bunch of slacker now. Haha.

JCS: Your fashion muse?
LG: [The late Italian heiress] Luisa Casati and [fashion icon] Iris Apfel. I really like that these women just did and do as they please regarding their styles. They didn't and don't care what other people think and just do what inspires them. Luisa was and Iris is a living work of art. Very innovative and interesting and creative. 

JCS: Worst fashion crime? (Current or past)
LG: Perpetrated by myself? Haha! Some people are going to hate me, but early 90s JCrew/LL Bean looks. I went through a period in college where I tried. It didn't work. Also, the 80s JAMS and random wild splashes of colors on white cotton. Skidz pants. No.

JCS: Ha! In lived for those J.Crew catalogs in high school! What about favorite fashion trend (current or past)?
LG: Hmmm... That's a tough one. I don't know that I follow trends. I just wear what I like, and I like things from so many periods. Sometimes I dress specifically in pieces from a certain period. I like big 70s sunglasses, platform shoes (YES!), high-waisted pants (pin-up or 70s), Victorian/Gothic, 20s-40s, 50s pin-up. I really dig how David Bowie dressed! You could say I have a BB (Bowie Boner). 

JCS: Can you remember the first time you were conscious of a thing called "fashion?"
LG: As a little girl there were influences all around me: TV, magazines, and seeing women all dressed up for church or going out... I loved the dress my mom had me wear for my kindergarten picture. It was red and had little tomatoes on it that were winking and it said in tiny script randomly around the dress, "Hot Tomato!" My mom had put a white cardigan on me and told me to take it off for the photo so you could see my dress. Well, I forgot to and when the school pictures came back she was like, "Oh Lydia! You didn't take your sweater off!" She wasn't mean or anything, just a little disappointed. So there I was in the picture with my pixie hair cut, shy lopsided grin, and a white cardigan with that red tomato dress peeking out a little.  

JCS: What is one item of clothing or accessory you carry with you or wear every day?
LG: I cannot say that I wear the same thing every day. Except for my sunglasses. Sunglasses are a great accessory. I wear different ones depending on the outfit. I also like to wear my black flats to work a lot.

JCS: What sorts of things do you do -- clothing or hair or makeup wise -- to feel sexy or alluring?
LG: I feel sexiest when I'm simply being who God made me to be and rocking it. Some examples of this are doing cool things with my hair and dressing how I feel (which I've heard is more "edgy"). But I feel like it's just normal so I really don't feel like I'm being "edgy." I feel sexy dressing up in vintage dresses or Victorian outfits and fun shoes. I feel sexy with dark eyeliner and red or hot pink eyeshadow and blood-red lips. 

JCS: What outfit makes you most happy?
LG: I have a couple that do. My slightly oversized Beatles t-shirt with black skinny jeans and boots. My classic horror monsters t-shirt and full gray tulle skirt with small gray and white polka dots, a cluster of fake pearls and sometimes bone hair clips. And my 4-inch platforms with straps and buckles. Those shoes are sexy! 

JCS: With whom do you talk about clothes?
LG: My friends Shiho, Candy and a new friend Kristin. They are interesting and get it.

JCS: How has your background (where you grew up, cultural heritage, etc) affected how you dress?
LG: I grew up in very conservative, small towns. We had no Kevin Bacon of the fashion world to come tell us it was OK to dance. I have always liked quirky and darker artistic things. 

JCS: What it is about "darker artistic things" that draws you in?
LG: Darker artistic things tend to be creative and more innovative to me. It speaks to me. There is an elegance in the mystery. I can explore. I can play. I can dance. I can hide. I can watch and take it all in. Contemplate. There can sometimes be a type of camaraderie with people who truly appreciate darker artistic things, as well. 

JCS: Describe your figure.
LG: What is there to describe? Haha. My figure is slender. I've heard it described as svelte.

JCS: Can you say a bit about how your mother's body and style have been passed on to you or not? 
LG: My mother has excellent taste and has a quirky side to her, too. I think that she used to be more creative in how she dressed when she was young and single. She purchased some amazing clothes which she gave to me when I got older. She is creative in general and passed that on to me. I believe that she also passed down her body type to me, except for the boobs. 

JCS: Would you say you "know what you like" in the area of fashion and clothing? Is it pretty instinctual?
LG: Yes. I like to just take things in and explore. If something strikes a chord with me in some area it's good to see if I can incorporate it.

JCS: Where do you find inspiration? For instance, when was the last time something struck a chord? How did you incorporate it into your style?
LG: I just see things that I think are cool and put them together. I'm no label 'ho. I'll wear stuff I find at the 99-cent store if it looks cool. Like I said before, if it makes your heart smile, you can find a way to pull it off! I find inspiration in people who do the same. Let's see... I found these talon rings (in the photo below). I wear them whenever I feel like adding a little edge. I recently went to a picnic at Echo Park Lake dressed in full skirt, corset, hat and parasol. That struck a chord in me.   

JCS: What do you admire about how other women present themselves?
LG: I admire creativity and quirkiness with an edge. I like when women are put together regardless of the style. It's interesting to me. I like how some people may not seem like it, but they are a freak inside.

JCS: Can you expand on what you mean by "freak?" This is so intriguing!
LG: I love when someone may appear to be plain or conservative on the outside, then you see the smile and the spark in their eyes and you hear them make some totally random statement or start conversation that is original or thought-provoking. It may even be considered inappropriate. Or you see someone dress up or perform their art and it's totally unconventional and original. Then you get to know them and find that they are truly a fun freak inside and the freaks in you both play together. "Star Child... We have connected!" (said by -- I think -- Paul Stanley in "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park").

Photos courtesy of Lydia Goossens and Shiho Johnson.
Photo of Luisa Casati by Adolph de Meyer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Oh the wonders of Thanksgiving!

I think I will very much look like the turkey leg (see above chart) after all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie I eat, eat and repeat.

I hope you have a most wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I have so much to be thankful for. I know you do, too.

love, -j. 

Illustration by Gemma Correll via Pinterest.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting ready for a long winter

We got our first snow of the season yesterday.

I have to admit I'm dreading winter this go around. You would think I'd be used to it by now (my third in Cleveland) but I don't think one ever gets the hang of it. Snow during Christmastime is wonderful and celebratory (Snowflakes! Hot chocolate! Sitting by the fire!). But snow and slush and below-zero temps in mid-January and dragging into March? Misery!

As I take a deep breath and prepare myself for another long, dark winter perhaps I should take some sage advice from the Norwegians, who endure months and months of snow, ice and often no sunlight! 

This helpful article offers lessons from the Far North. 

Do as the Norwegians do: change the way you think of winter. Instead of lamenting, "Oh! How I hate winter! I am depressed! Woe is me!" I can celebrate the things I can only do in winter. Light a fire, drink warm beverages, snuggle under fuzzy blankets, go sledding, build a snowman, feel snowflakes on my tongue.

Norwegians also have this great word to describe a sense of coziness: koselig

As winter approaches, I'm going to embrace koselig. I'll let you know how it goes.    

Fast Company article via Kottke.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sex and the single girl (#GoodFirstDates)

4 Unexpected Qualities of a Good First Date
By Erika Abdelatif for love, -j.

Online dating is weird. Real weird.

Think about it: Previous generations learned to date by example, gleaning stories from their mothers and fathers, grandparents and so on. Online dating, however, has opened up our culture to a brand new form of relationship building with virtually no pre-established cultural norms. Anything goes. That’s nuts!

I love it, though.

Online dating has given me the chance to connect with a lot more people than I normally would otherwise. In the past year, I’ve gone out on a few dozen first dates. One thing I’ve learned is that good dates don’t have to look like the movies. In fact, there are times when certain unexpected qualities make a date stand out.

I recently launched a podcast called, I Met You on the Internet. It gives me a platform to interview other singles wading through apps and sites in search of love. Let’s just say the stories are amazing, and strange, and often hilarious. (Shameless plug: you can download     I Met You on the Internet on iTunes!)

Since I love sharing golden nuggets of wisdom with readers, here are a few on “unexpected qualities of a good first date” that I’ve dug up recently:

Silence is Golden

Fluid conversation is important, but can you handle some silence? Recently, after several hours of engaging conversation, my date stopped, took a breath, and said, "Let's just be quiet for a second." He was half joking, but we leaned into it. Surprisingly, it was great. It was a relief to let the moment breathe and to enjoy our surroundings without the pressure to manufacture conversation.

Agree to Disagree

Anyone who says online dating isn't hard is lying. Learning to gauge chemistry on a series of dates with strangers is challenging. You only have a small window of time to determine compatibility. There isn't much space to be inauthentic. That being said, I like when dates are open to raw conversation. I enjoy breaching difficult topics and observing how my date handles disagreement. 

For instance, on my last first date, we dove into conversation on the upcoming election. We didn't agree on everything and, at certain points, things got a little heated. It was great! You can learn a lot about someone when they're fired up. Does he shy away from conversation? Is he too aggressive? Or can he disagree with grace and curiosity? Points of conflict will come up sooner or later in any relationship. If we can agree to disagree early on, that's probably a good sign.

Embrace the Weird

A few months ago, I went out with a guy I was on the fence about. Our pre-date chats were pretty vanilla, but I thought I should give him a chance. Not everyone is a great online conversationalist. I get that. By the end of our date, I was stumped. Did I want a second date, or not? He was still pretty blasĂ©, but I couldn't tell if it was his personality or nerves. 

Maybe this is frowned upon, but I threw him a curveball. I brought up my love of multiverse conspiracies. (If you're unfamiliar, the multiverse is a hypothetical set of alternative universes. There are conspiracies that suggest our present day reality could be layered with an infinite number of other universes, each with their own physical laws and constraints.)

And you know what? It was a flop. He was pretty weirded out and I was turned off by his weirded-outness. We didn't talk again. What can I say? If  you're gonna get with this, you gotta be down with some multiverse discussion.

Move it

Why do we think sitting across from a stranger is a good way to get to know a person? For me, it's quite uncomfortable to muster up small talk with someone new with whom you have virtually no outside connection. And it only makes it worse when you're sitting right in front of him.

I find that dates that involve some kind of movement can help me shake off nerves and build a connection. Walk around a park. Go kayaking. Take a hike. If you have an activity you can half-focus on, you won't be forced to stare at each other weirdly when/if conversation runs out.

What unexpected qualities have you appreciated on a first date? 

Original illustration by Helena Kontos for love, -j.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Your kindergartener

Poem by David Tate for McSweeney's.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Paris, je t'aime

No adequate words to describe my feelings when I heard of the terror attacks in Paris. And just a day after the horrific suicide bombings in Beirut. And not to mention the systematic terror sweeping Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan...

My heart is heavy, once again.

Couldn't have expressed it better than this. (Girls of a Certain Age)
Image from Birchbox via Twitter.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

See you in Chicago

On our way to Chicago to drop off fiberglass molds this handsome guy has painstakingly worked on for the past three months. Want to know how to build your own supercar? Follow #ProjectCaden's incredible journey.   

Making crazy dreams come true.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Illustration by Gemma Correll.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Who's that girl? (#DarlingMagazine)

Darling Magazine is one of my favorite publications in the world. It's smart, aims to empower women and is the ONLY fashion magazine that doesn't use Photoshop.

Imagine that!

I recently had an opportunity to write for Darling and wanted to share my article with you. "Who's That Girl?" is about how a woman can cultivate her allure, especially in today's selfie-loving, media-obsessed culture.

Instagram snaps can wait. Keep them wondering.


Who's That Girl? 
5 Ways to Cultivate Your Mystery
By Jennifer Cho Salaff for Darling Magazine

She is a mystery. Her only companion a cup of coffee and a copy of her favorite book. Though she sits alone at this sidewalk café, she savors the moment. She quietly delights in the sights and sounds of the scene unfolding before her. She has nowhere to be. No one is waiting for her elsewhere. She will stay as long as she likes. And only leave when she is ready. Who is this woman?

She leaves us wanting to know more.

In an age of social media, over-sharing has become an unfortunate by-product. But maintaining a mysterious element about oneself can leave people wanting more. Not to be mistaken with being stand-offish or aloof, cultivating one's allure -- when done with kindness, grace and authenticity -- is an empowering way to keep the people you meet fascinated by the person you are inside.

Consider the following five ways to cultivate the right kind of allure:

1. Less is more.

Leave things unsaid. When in conversation, resist the urge to share too many details or overwhelm your conversational partner with too much information (it's OK, we've all been guilty of TMI). It's a wonderful thing to be warm, honest and open, but the girl who talks incessantly can leave a person with nothing to ask.

2. Good listening

A nugget of wisdom from Plato, "Wise [wo]men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something." Hone your powers of observation. Draw people in with your genuine interest in them. This is a beautiful way to open up a new relationship or friendship -- slowly, like peeling an artichoke and getting to the heart of a person.

3. Off the radar

Practice restraint on social media, even if for only one day out of the week. Get off your Facebook feed. Refrain from posting your every thought on Twitter. Instagram snaps can wait. Keep them wondering.

4. Solitude

Revel in being alone. It can be fantastic for the soul. You are anonymous in your own city. No one knows your name, how old you are, what you do for a living. Enjoy sitting alone on a bench at your favorite park. Look around, observe the interesting people passing you by. Notice the different colors exploding in the sky, the delicious scents in the air, the feel of your hands folded in your lap. Take a deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Cherish this moment.

5. Take time

Why in such a rush? Remember to daydream. Be in the moment. We live in such a fast-paced culture that we rarely take time to rest. Take the time to grow, to change and to invest in others. Take the time to stroll in a garden. Take the time to be quiet. Take the time to ask yourself who you are and what you want.

Do you think we need more "mysterious" women in our culture?

On clothing.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Love my Anthro girls

I've always been somewhat of a late bloomer.

Though I was never in a sorority during college I kinda feel like I'm getting a second chance at something I never knew I missed out on. I love my Anthro girls. I mean, I've never met a more kind, genuine, good-spirited group of women all working in the same place. 

At any given time our Cleveland store is represented by some 30 intelligent, engaging, fashion-forward ladies. We work hard to make our store the most beautiful place on earth. If you've ever stepped foot inside an Anthropologie, then you know what I'm talking about.

It's every woman's happy place.

Here are some of my lovely friends (aren't they just gorgeous?). And in case you were wondering, you can find (L to R) Jade's denim shift here, my polka dot dress here, Amy's LBD here, and Jen's striped sweater dress here.


Summer fashion show.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Cavs spirit

Our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers kicked off their regular season just a few weeks ago. All eyes are on LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin Love and company as the Cavs are the favorites to win the 2016 Finals. I'm so excited especially after last season's nail-biting, indigestion-inducing series.

And as you can see here, the kids are ready, too.

Game on!

That time we went crazy for basketball.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

All that jazz (#SopkoAtwalDuo)

Music is best listened to live.

A few nights ago, my ears had the pleasure of experiencing the Sopko/Atwal Duo at the BOP STOP here in Cleveland. It was an evening of badass improvisational jazz including one of the best interpretations of Amazing Grace I've ever heard.

Truly soulful.

The duo's last Midwest stop will be on November 11 at Erie Ale Works in Erie, PA. Check them out! 

39 things I love about CLE.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Me and books

Unfortunately such is the case with me... Each night before bed I look at the stack of wonderful books on my nightstand and instead of reaching for one, I get sucked into social media.


Illustration via Cup of Jo.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More of the beast (#ProjectCaden)

Carlos shares everything you ever wanted to know about building your very own supercar. Read his interview about #ProjectCaden on design blog Core77.

Click here for the full story.


The future is now. 

Monday, November 2, 2015


Illustration by Gemma Correll via Instagram.