Tag Archives: color

A Family Masterpiece

May 10, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some childhood memories stick with you. Dave Carroll, a retired Union Pacific manager, holds onto the memory of one fateful childhood leap that dented his grandfather’s prized 1950 Mercury.

“I’ve got so much of my life in this car,” Carroll says. When he was about 6 or 7, Carroll was playing with cousins at a tree house on his grandparents’ farm in Fullerton, Nebraska. His grandfather John Carroll’s out-of-commission vehicle sat under the tree house.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. Instead of going down the rope ladder, I jumped out of the tree house onto the car and I caved the roof in.”

Carroll remembered his grandpa’s large hands. “He got in the car and he took his hand and popped it out, and I thought, wow.” Some wrinkles remained in the car’s roof and would stay there for many decades. “The funny story is, years later, I paid to fix that roof,” he says.

His grandmother, Etta Carroll, bestowed him the car after his grandfather passed away. Then she accidentally sold the car for $50 to a neighbor kid, while Dave was serving in the military during the Vietnam War. Dave and his father, Jack, travelled to Fullerton to get the car back after Dave returned from overseas. The duo were quickly chased off of the property by shotgun.

“We went downtown and we found the local constable. He was having coffee at the coffee shop. My dad knew him. We told him the story and he said ‘come on, we’ll go back.’” The story ended well for Dave, who was still in possession of the car’s original title. And the car has been with him since then.

Over the years, the Mercury was transported across the United States on a flatbed trailer while Carroll worked his way up at Union Pacific, from a position on the track gang to one in management at the company’s headquarters. His career led him to places such as Sydney (Nebraska), Denver, and Cheyenne. At every new location, Carroll brought along his beloved Merc’. “My intention was to build it, but being a railroader, I didn’t have the time or the funds.”

Carroll returned to Omaha in the ’80s. He met and wed Dianne Cascio Carroll, owner of Anything Goes Salon. Soon after, he began his odyssey of fixing the Mercury. Having the roof repaired is just one of the many changes Carroll has made to his car.

“There’s so many things that have been done to this car,” he says. Over more than 30 years, Carroll says he has spent thousands of hours refurbishing the car. Some projects were finished, only to be torn up again and redone so that he could try the ever-evolving products in the industry that worked better. “That’s my problem,” he says. “I redo things.”

He has often lost track of time while working in his garage in the Huntington Park neighborhood in Omaha. “I’ve had my wife open the door and say, ‘you know what time it is?’ I look at the clock and it’s 10 after 1 in the morning and I’ve got to be to work at 6 in the morning.”

“It’s not about me. It’s about my parents, and honoring the memory of my grandfather. I kept this car because it was in the family and it’s never been out of the family.”

Carroll’s imagination has affected every aspect of the car, from the striking Candy Purple body color, to the custom purple snakeskin roof interior. The air-conditioning vents were salvaged from a 2002 FordTempo. He ordered the custom-made steering wheel from California, and the windshield from Oregon. Thanks to Carroll’s insatiable creativity, the car has a digital dash, an electrical door opener, a late-model motor with custom aluminum valve covers, four-wheel disk brakes, rounded hood corners, a smooth dash and Frenched-in (curved) headlights.

The restoration has also been helped by Ron Moore of Moore Auto Body, Rick White of Redline Upholstery, and Rod Grasmick, an antique auto restorer. Using qualified professionals means that Carroll knows his car is taken care of, but he also finds them to be knowledgable friends.

“I have a couple of friends that are helping me with this car, that’s how our [automotive] community is—everybody helps everybody,” he says.

Will the car ever be finished? “My dad is always telling that he hopes to get to ride it in when it is done, and him being 92 years old puts a lot of pressure on me,” he says.

“My wife says, ‘you’re taking forever.’ Well, look at it this way, there’s better and newer stuff coming out all the time,” Carroll says. And so the journey continues.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Seven Heaven

May 2, 2017 by
Photography by Justin Barnes

Fashion blogger Hannah Almassi of whowhatwear.co.uk knows her stuff. She says spring/summer 2017’s fashion trends have “anyone who is interested in super-duper, spin-around-your-closet fashion excited.” Why? “Well, it’s an inherently upbeat season,” Almassi says. “From the many no-holds-barred interpretations on the 1980s—think lamé, jumbo frills, shoulders, bling, and legs—to the most saturated color palette we’ve seen in a decade—fuschia, scarlet, heliotrope, hazmat, more fuschia—joy is oozing from every stitch and every seam. Even stripes and florals—two trusty pillars of the summer print lineup—are back with more bite, more verve and more tempting iterations to make you think again and look twice.”

International model Tara Jean Nordbrock agrees with Almassi’s fashion forecast. Nordbrock put her own spin on seven of the blogger’s top spring/summer trends using fashions from Scout Dry Goods & Trade (5019 Underwood Ave.). “That fabulous ’80s spirit combined with this decade’s DIY culture provide inspiration for the latest trends,” Almassi says. “It’s a radical mix-up of unpredictable style. You won’t be bored.”

This article was printed in the May/June 2017 edition of Encounter.

Styling & Modeling by Tara Jean Nordbrock
Photography by Justin Barnes
Photo editing & Illustrations by Derek Joy
Intro by Eric Stoakes

Clean, Classic Design with a Contemporary Twist

August 26, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The style of this newly constructed home reflects the clean, classic taste of the homeowners with a contemporary twist. The homeowners’ main issue was a strong preference for neutral colors. Whenever they previously tried to inject color into their décor, they quickly grew tired of it.

ASID3

I chose to embrace their love of neutrals and add interest with contrast and texture. For example, I chose a soft gray on the walls, but a dark, rich, wide-plank floor to add warmth. The fireplace remains neutral in color but adds interest with its stacked and staggered rough stone pattern. The light stone next to the dark floating wood shelves adds crispness to the space.

Color was strategically placed in the intricate great room’s ceiling to accentuate the architecture. The same deep blue-gray color was added to the dropped ceiling above the pendant lights in the kitchen.  The kitchen is spacious enough to house a 10-foot island. To add a splash of contemporary design to a classic white kitchen, the cooktop tile was laid vertically in a herringbone pattern.

ASID1

The same concept was used on the exterior: crisp white and gray stacked stone, bright white trim, and a smoky gray vertical siding.

All the design elements came together using timeless, classic neutrals, and a few splashes of soft cool colors. The homeowners couldn’t be happier with their new home! OmahaHome

ASID2

Fibers Rooted in Nebraska

June 23, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The world-renowned fiber artist Sheila Hicks never forgot that she started in Nebraska.

“Why am I coming to Nebraska?” says the Hastings native. “I’m coming because I owe it to Nebraska. It gave me so much. Such a feeling of well-being. I had an extended family of grandparents and great aunts, and cousins.”

Hicks says her formal art career, which is “sometimes relegated to the category of craft, sometimes to fine arts,” began taking shape at Yale University School of Art and Architecture, where she studied under Bauhaus artist Josef Albers.

It was a trip to South America, however, that inspired her unique work in textiles.

“Having been given a Fulbright to go to Chile (in 1957-1958), I economized and ended up visiting every single country in South America except Paraguay,” Hicks says by phone interview from her home in Paris. “I found I could go down the West Coast starting in Venezuela. One year later I had missions and tasks to complete; I went all the way down to the southernmost city in the hemisphere. Then I came back up on the east coast. I did a show in Santiago at the National Museum. It was  a great privilege. I did an exhibition in Buenos Aires.”

SheilaHicks2That next year, she came back to Yale and earned her MFA, partly because Albers convinced the faculty that her trip counted as field work. She relocated to Paris in 1964, where she has continued to work for more than 50 years.

Her current art exhibit, on display at Joslyn Art Museum through Sept. 4, will give Omahans a glimpse into Hicks’ unique work.

“We are so delighted to be able to share such a large and important body of work by one of the world’s most exciting and engaging artists,” says Jack Becker, Joslyn Art Museum Executive Director and CEO. “Sheila’s work at present is featured around the globe in Australia, Asia, throughout Europe, and this year, in Omaha.”

“They will never have seen anything like this, the innovative use of materials,” Hicks says. “They are meant to go into the history of our civilization and to earlier civilizations and earlier cultures. That’s why I’ve chosen this medium because people can see textiles historically.”

That innovative use of materials includes using corn husks in her work, a tribute to Nebraska. A concurrent show running in Hangzhou, China, includes shells of things she has eaten, such as seafood. Hicks was particularly excited about this show as Hangzhou has the world’s biggest silk museum.

Textiles, Hicks says, “Also helps with remembering things from other cultures as being reinterpreted and actualized.”

As much as the use of materials, it’s the use of color for which Hicks is known. She once painted her childhood bedroom royal blue with scarlet and orange accents, and has preferred bright colors her whole life.

She feels inspired to work with fibers because they are so intertwined in people’s lives and belongings. But she also enjoys working in many other mediums.

“I don’t consider myself a fiber artist any more than I consider myself a watercolor artist or a black and white photographer,” Hicks says. “I am a maker of things. I love to invent and make things.”

This particular show will impress people with the breadth and depth of the work. Hicks says, “It swims back and forth between painting and sculpture and environment and architecture.”

“I think that we are most excited by the diversity of the work and the remarkable way Sheila employs color and design to engage viewers,” Becker says. “The accompanying catalogue provides a lasting record of the exhibition while advancing the conversation and scholarship around this important artist.”

One thing is for certain. No matter where she goes, she knows her Nebraska roots have helped her feel at home in many places.

“I am up to my ankles in Nebraska,” Hicks says. “Wherever I go and whatever I do, I don’t feel foreign or confused. I am a very well grounded person coming from a Nebraska family of many generations.” 

SheilaHicks1

Smart Design Stands the Test of Time

March 15, 2014 by
Photography by Amoura Productions

While attending the High Point International Furniture Market with Shawn Falcone of Falcone Homes this past spring, it was inspiring to find bold, saturated, color in nearly every showroom.

Also timely and fitting that, just as Shawn and I set out to develop the design plan for our 2013 Street of Dreams home (built by Falcone Homes), the home sold to a family who was excited about the idea of incorporating a strong color story into their décor.  >

Our goal became to give this show home a unique and colorful personality.

“We specified top-of-the-line finishes, pro appliances, custom cabinetry, custom furnishings and window treatments, original artwork, fresh paint colors, noteworthy light fixtures, and leaded glass double-entry doors,” says Falcone. “The moment you step into this home you begin to appreciate its character, quality, and charm.”

We took a thoughtful approach to design, one that embraces “on trend” in smart measure so that this work will stand the test of time. Those items which are easy and affordable to replace—think throw pillows, paint, and accessories—are the best areas in which to embrace trends.

And where you should consider a splurge?

Original fine art never goes out of style. Area rugs can be passed on for generations when you buy heirloom-quality pieces. Approach tile as an opportunity to set your home apart from your neighbors. Think of lighting as the icing on the cake.

Investing in fine furniture and custom window treatments will add polish and staying power to your décor. Consider furnishing your home as you would in assembling a wardrobe. Not every item hanging in your closet can be trendy and colorful, and not every item can be timeless and neutral. Some items you find may stretch the budget while others are more easily affordable. The key is to strike a balance by mixing and matching low- and high-end items according to your style and budget.

Good design is not about how much our clients are able to spend. It is about creating spaces that they want to spend time in.

The most important thing about the interior design of your home would be for it to become an extension of who you are, what you value, your interests, and your lifestyle. In a word, it must be you.

Karen Schnepf

December 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Karen Schnepf’s artist profile, published in Her magazine in 2009 (now HerFamily magazine), carried the subtitle “Coloring Outside the Lines.” Much has changed in Schnepf’s life and artwork since then, but her credo is still the same. Whether beginning a fresh painting, designing her home, or playing with a grandchild, she believes in following an idea wherever it may lead rather than let conventional boundaries define the shape of her explorations. Color and curiosity are the joint impetus for her paintings; they are the verve and rhythm that bring her work to life.

Schnepf’s painting signature is an immediately recognizable style, with abstract compositions whose bright colors are emphasized by the artist’s unique, high-gloss finish. Colors assume shape by either consolidating into an area on the canvas or by lines suggesting a perimeter. These contours—whether a thick brush stroke or a quick, gestural dash—are somehow incomplete, interrupted. They have the same energy as Navajo spirit lines—the break prevents the work’s creative spirit from being trapped and thus stifled. Schnepf’s lines exclaim, meander, circle, and drip; they both allude and elude.

IMG_4026

Her new paintings literally and figuratively bump up the arrangement. In her latest series, Whispers, Secrets, Reality, paper collaged onto the canvas adds a layer of mystery to one or more areas of a painting. Finished with her three-step glossing process, the dimensionality is subtle and ambiguous, especially in view of Schnepf’s tendency to overlap paint. Before you can wonder what’s been covered up you have to decide if something has actually been covered up.

“The series is inspired by the complexity of relationships that come into our lives and how those relationships can change our road map,” says Schnepf.

IMG_4125

Further exploring the enticement of playing with space in another current series, Colors Layered, she arranges strata of heavy watercolor paper, cut, painted on one or both sides, and layered like shingles. Many of these soak up her vivid hues like sundrenched tiles, but Schnepf is so attuned to color that she celebrates its range even in a neutral palette. This sensitivity allows color to remain strong, even with the added focuses of texture 
and dimension.

“I particularly love the smooth, sophisticated, shiny surfaces of Karen’s pieces. It brings a vibrancy to the work.”
— Judy Boelts, collector

Whether painting or constructing, Schnepf follows her instincts; she adds, subtracts, shifts, leaves, comes back, questions, listens.

IMG_4113

“There is a passion in me that requires me to go to the next level,” she says, “to never settle for the ordinary, to experiment until I find the right combination of elements.” When she senses that her ideas have coalesced into an articulate and aesthetic expression, “Then I feel the satisfaction of completion, and the only thing that I add is my signature.” Change can be dramatic, as in Whispers, Secrets, Reality 5. (Works in a series are typically identified by number.) A patchwork ground has been quieted by a scrim of lavender; the most intense of those colors integrated into a central column. Black circles take on physicality; one can imagine they buzz in conversation, while black and white riffs ripple the surrounding space.

Coloring outside the lines, it seems, is an invitation to improvisation.

Karen Schnepf is represented by the Dundee Gallery. A solo exhibition of her work is planned there in April.

Be Our Guest

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“They tell me, it’s up to you to change things out. We trust you.” Alex Ostblom, a landscape designer for Lanoha Nurseries, strolls across a newly transformed Westside lawn, naming flowers off the top of his head. Impatiens, begonias, mandevilla, and sweet alyssum are planted in great swaths of color, sweeping along sidewalk, driveway, and around to a brand-new back yard. Guests to the remodeled home might never suspect what the place looked like just a few months earlier.

Ostblom explains that the homeowners wanted a lawn that matched their refinished house’s new capabilities: to blend in with the rest of the stately neighborhood and to provide a perfect space to entertain family members and close friends. “Other than that,” he says, “they didn’t have too many particulars.” So Ostblom let his creativity loose, beginning the design process in March and construction in May. The entire project was completed by June 15.

20130627_bs_8828

The first order of business was to redesign an unsightly retaining wall that led around the north of the house to the back yard. Originally made of concrete block, the five-foot wall created a tight alley between the house and a small mountain of unusable back yard. Its considerable height so close to the back of the house blocked off half of the dining and living room windows. A cramped patio made a stab at bringing hospitality to the space.

To simultaneously create a much less imposing wall while also making the yard itself usable, Ostblom removed tons of dirt to create tiers of lawn that allowed him to install a limestone wall less than two feet tall. The limestone complements colors in the house and can actually be found in the landscaping of nearby homes, bringing the property more into the neighborhood’s fold. Large blocks of the limestone accent the front and back yard, “giving the grandkids something to climb around on,” Ostblom points out.

20130627_bs_8790

Thanks to the greatly shortened wall, guests in the dining and living rooms can enjoy a panorama of seasonal annuals (“One of the owners just loves lots of color,” Ostblom says), a rose cutting garden, and mature evergreens. “They wanted everything to look like it’d been there for years,” Ostblom says, so Lanoha Nurseries set field-grown spruce and conifers in place with machinery. “That’s a one-time deal,” he explains. “If the trees don’t take to this well, we can’t get the equipment back in here to put in more of that size.” So he’s monitoring their progress closely, already eyeing some barely noticeable brown needles on a spruce. “That one might be under stress from over watering.”

Frequent entertainment of friends and family meant the homeowners needed a large, welcoming space. In particular, they wanted a gas fire pit large enough where several people could comfortably gather. The idea of an L-shaped outdoor kitchen was tossed around, but the couple decided instead to place a simple grill out of sight around the home’s south corner to ensure that the fire pit remained their outdoor gathering place. A gas line leads from the house to the grill; no empty propane cans here.

20130627_bs_8785

Ostblom notes that establishing such a mature landscape within six weeks calls for careful attention to how light will change over the seasons. Most of the yard is in at least partial shade, particularly in the front yard and to the north. To the northeast and east, the yard transitions into full sun. To cope with the variety of landscape elements (varying light, drainage, and plants with differing needs), Ostblom says he redesigned the home’s irrigation entirely. “They have turf, trees, annuals…it all requires different watering.” To facilitate easy maintenance by Lanoha Nurseries without disturbing the homeowners, Ostblom had the irrigation clock moved from inside the garage to just inside the gate in the backyard.

“I visit about once a month,” he says, though he admits he makes the rounds in the neighborhood frequently, checking in on this and other landscaping projects for any signs of trouble. “Communication. That’s the biggest part in making sure it all looks amazing.”

Making Summer Fashion Decisions

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

The summer wardrobe of any and everyone over 60 is a definite challenge to coordinate.

I just tell it like it is: A body that’s older than 60, even slim and in the best shape, needs more camouflage than exposure. If you care about how you look to others, shorts and short skirts are of a previous life. I’ve never seen pretty knees on anyone over 60.

The length of capris is very personal. Find the length that looks best on you and have your capris hemmed there. When wearing capris, the shoes or sandals you wear with them are very important for making a style statement. Comfort matters, too, but you won’t be happy with your look if your summer footwear isn’t stylish. When wearing sandals, NO scaly skin and callouses allowed, and keep toenails polished to perfection!

Tank tops, halters, and tube tops are not necessarily of your past. You can still wear them but not alone. Under a cardigan sweater, a jacket, a stole, or a loose-fitting shirt, they can be fabulous! Use them to add a splash of color, print, or texture to monotone separates. Dark-colored ones can be very slimming. Sundresses…hmm. There are many cute ones that I love in fresh, young florals, but they are indeed for the young.

Blue denim can be dangerous at 60 or older. It has to be worn with an attitude, and it’s usually not the attitude that 60-and-overs have. Comfort jeans are only to be worn around the house. Denim jumpers date, age, and frump you. But black denim, white denim, and fashion-colored denim jeans and jackets are must-haves! Be sure, however, to buy a cut that flatters you. The cut is not about your age. It’s about your shape.

Summer clothes must look fresh. When you’re hot, whatever you’re wearing wrinkles. Press the wrinkles out of every piece you wear before you return it to the closet. If washing first is necessary, do it, but if a garment shows wear after washing, retire it. NEVER wash black cotton separates. They may say washable, but washing sucks the life and color out of them. Dry clean only! Linen is of its own world. Clients used to come to me saying, “I want you to design and make me linen clothes that don’t wrinkle.” Impossible. Linen wrinkles, regardless of how it’s designed, made, or treated. If you wear linen, you must accept wrinkles.

As for Summer 2013 colors, avoid pastels even if on-trend. They look fresh if you’re under 40 but give you a grandma look if you’re over 60. The colors best on you depend on their relationship to your hair and skin tones. To play it safe, wear black or white, together with orange, lime, or turquoise when you want to add some pop.

Accessories are what it’s all about. Use them to style and personalize your summer looks. Bold-colored beads on a loose linen shirt, a fringed stole over a tank top, or a studded belt hanging loose over a calf-length skirt can take your look from everyday/everybody to a unique and stylish you! Scarves are important but not by day when it’s hot. In the evening, they’re both useful and fashionable tossed over your shoulders to break the chill of the night and air conditioning. Summer purses should have a lighter look than the ones you carry through winter. Color, texture, and fabric should relate to the season and to what you’re wearing. If black is your color, choose a poplin, straw, or woven bag.

Summer hair and makeup should be easy care. A lipstick color change is often necessary, and if you wear foundation, a darker tone might be better. Always wear sunscreen!

Finally, swimwear, OMG, it creates a crisis for almost everyone, regardless of age. After 60, no bikinis except for home swims and tanning. There are plenty of flattering one- and two-piece swimsuits you’ll love, and many of them are shaped and color-blocked to slim you.

The season is short. Enjoy it with confidence knowing my advice will make the BEST of you!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.

Courtney Kenny

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Courtney Kenny

Courtney Kenny’s favorite piece, currently, is a self-portrait in charcoal. Tousled pale hair is set off by a careless smirk. And a huge, red, acrylic “F” circled over her face and checkmarked for emphasis. The unforgiving letter is the epitome of every student’s nightmares.

“When I was doing Failure,” Kenny says, “I was stressed and frustrated. I’d just got declined from some gallery, so I was stressed about that and kind of feeling like a failure.”

Her friends couldn’t understand it. “They’d say, ‘Why do you feel like a failure?’” Kenny recalls. After all, she of all her peers from Bethany College (she graduated last December) had been in juried shows as a sophomore and had her first solo exhibition as a freshman. She’s what you might call driven.IMG_4256 copy

The reaction she gets when applying to galleries and shows is usually along the lines of “You’re how old? What, 23?”

“It leads me to believe more artists wait till they’re older to show,” Kenny says, adding that most students aren’t even thinking about shows in college, just making art. “I was doing things my peers weren’t,” she says. Determined to get her work seen, she felt her way along with “lots of research, lots of trial and error, lots of rejection, lots of failure.” And even if she doesn’t sell as many pieces as she wants at the shows she does get into, she knows each show is an addition to her résumé. “It’s always better to be able to say, ‘Hey, I currently have a show here,’” Kenny points out. “That alone, other galleries perk up a little bit.”

All the while, she’s amassed a body of work in what she calls “unrealistic realism.” The style is realistic, with people and animals portrayed in fine detail with graphite, charcoal, acrylic, or oil, but the subject matter is unrealistic. Elements are drawn in such a way as to make viewers look twice. Is that…real? Could it be real?IMG_7354 copy

Consider, for example, the Nude Bitch. At first glance, the charcoal and acrylic piece is a study of a tired beagle sacked out on a couch. But upon closer inspection, a viewer might notice the rose petals. And are those draped sheets? “That one’s making fun of the nude model,” Kenny says. “No one gets it at first.”

She’s always looking for the quirk, the sense of humor, the hint of tongue-in-cheek. Artists such as Banksy, Chuck Close, and Francoise Nielly encourage her to embrace a subtle wit in her own work. And, perhaps, a tendency to poke fun at art itself. “I’ve always respected artists more who, if they do a piece that’s just three stripes on a canvas, and then I see another piece of theirs that does show they have the technical skills, I can accept the first piece,” Kenny says. “Then you know it’s intentional, not a cover-up for the fact that they can’t draw.”

For Kenny, drawing is where it all began, and she’s taken certain elements from drawing into her painting. For example, nearly all of her work is in black and white. Drawing in black and white is typical, but a black-and-white oil painting raises eyebrows. “It’s more honed in,” she says. “Minimalist. That’s also why most of my pieces don’t have a ton in the background.” A good example of this stark minimalism would be Unravel, a mixed media work with yarn and acrylic.IMG_3961 copy

Kenny does reserve splashes of color to draw focus, such as the In Bloom series. “Too much color,” she says, “and you’re almost noticing the color over the medium.” But she lets her viewers be the judges, saying she wants to provide a direction but not specific answers as to what her art has to say.

Kenny recently wrapped up a month-long show at the Crossroads Art District in Kansas City in March. Her next show will be at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska City in July. For more information, visit courtneykennyart.com.

There Are NO Fashion Rules!

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

I can’t tell you how many times people come to me with a question regarding whether or not they can wear a certain, usually trendy style of a jacket, pant, skirt, top, etc. My reply is always, “It depends on what you wear it with.”

Too many people follow the trends too closely, thinking that, in order to be fashionable, they have to wear what they see, as they see it. Fashion is a lot more forgiving than most people think. It’s more general than specific, more enabling than disabling. It’s “change” that you are in “charge” of! There are no fashion rules, just styling relationships to pay attention to.

When it comes to color, some people still believe there are only certain colors they can wear. The only colors that matter are the ones next to your face. I happen to look horrible in almost every shade of pink, but if I wear a shirt or a scarf in a flattering color under a pink sweater, pink works for me! I don’t look good in beiges either, but if I stack silver necklaces and wear silver earrings with beige, it goes from terrible to terrific on me. So if you’re worried that you won’t look good in emerald, the color of 2013, play with what you pair it with or limit emerald to your skirts and pants.

If you care about looking your best, your shape and the shapes of clothes you wear need to be compatible. Short women often tell me that they cannot wear long jackets. They usually determine that when trying them on over pants and skirts of a different color, which usually does make a short person look top-heavy and shorter. However, if you are short, the right long jackets can and will work over matching bottoms.

When it comes to skirts, the length makes a big difference. Length is always individual, and it varies according to what it’s worn with. Women with heavy lower legs usually look better in pants, but in fall and winter, they can wear dark tights and boots, and be confident about looking great in almost any skirt! In summer, ankle-length skirts with flat sandals are best.

The cut of your pants and jeans is very important. Never buy a pair of pants without examining how they look in back from a three-way mirror! Whether you can wear a wide leg, a tight leg, or a flared one depends more on what you wear it with than on the shape of you.

The shapes of what we wear shape us! I have proof of that. In 1991, when I was the Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation designer for the first time, the fashion look focused on waistlines. Pants, skirts, and dresses were wide-banded and belted at the waist. Almost all of the princesses and countesses had small waistlines. In 1997, when I did the ball again, fashion hadn’t changed enough to make much of a difference in body shapes. By 2002, when jeans were worn at the hip and below, girls had lost the definition of a waistline. Even thin and tiny girls had waist measurements considerably larger than those of girls their size in 1991. My relationship advice based on that is “beware of the comfort zone.” Clothes that are too comfortable are dangerous not only after a person is 60, but always!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.