Tag Archives: dress

Obsessed With the Dress

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Listen up, drama queens…A new TV reality show, Obsessed With the Dress, airs this summer and takes place right here in Omaha. The location for the show, Winning Crown Boutique in Rockbrook Village, is a dress shop that specializes in pageant wear.

This show will not be just another Say Yes to the Dress, show promoters say. Viewers can anticipate seeing the inner workings of the boutique and learn the background stories and successes of clients, as the show follows each girl through to the end of her pageant. But don’t fear—the show will undoubtedly serve up a heavy dose of drama, much like its bridal show predecessor.

Michele Strom, Mrs. Nebraska 2007 and owner of the boutique, got the idea for Winning Crown while preparing to compete in the Mrs. America pageant. When she couldn’t find a local venue to buy a dress, the entrepreneur-at-heart recognized a retail niche that needed filling and started a dress business out of her home in 2007. She moved the business to the Rockbrook location in early 2009.

Strom says she has no formal background in design. “I just have a unique eye for being creative and an ability to visualize what will look good [on a client]. I missed my calling at an early age, but it’s snowballed into this amazing opportunity to find something later in life that I am really passionate about.”20130404_bs_9891_web

The business has been such a success that Pie Town Productions in North Hollywood contacted Strom about her store being the location for Obsessed With the Dress, which airs nationally this summer on WE Networks.

“Our development team reached out to dozens of such shops across the country,” says Jennifer Davidson, an executive producer at Pie Town Productions. “But when we found Michele Strom and her team at The Winning Crown in Omaha, it was obvious that we had a show here.”

There are two types of drama that unfold on Obsessed With the Dress, Davidson says. “The girls and women shopping for gowns are relentlessly competitive and fascinating. But the staff gets into even more crazy drama. There is a villain at the shop, and he is gunning for the manager’s job. These office politics are off the hook!”

Strom’s staff includes Beau Olson, manager, who has a keen eye for fashion; Frances Nefsky, a graphic designer and creative mind; and Sarah Summers, an expert on all things pageant. “When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place,” says Strom.

“When it comes to pageants, we dress girls to win. I drill that into the minds of my staff and clients. I am not here to get [them] second place.” – Michele Strom, owner of Winning Crown Boutique

“Because we have an hour per episode to tell our stories, we get to take a deeper look at the personalities behind the scenes at the shop, who are equally as fascinating as Michele’s customers,” adds Davidson. “Most of Michele’s salespeople are pageant winners themselves, [while] some are not and have their own agendas. Let’s just say that old pageant rivalries never die!”

Strom promises that the girls in the show are the real deal. “These girls come into [the store] for their dresses…They are all our clients and not manufactured [characters].”

Strom wants to bring awareness to not only what her store does, but also to debunk the negative pageant image. “There have been some shows in the past that have been negative, and I want people to see the positive side of these women. These girls are really smart and do a lot for our community. And it’s not just about the dress; it is about making my clients the best they can be.”

Winning Crown accepts drop-ins, but coaching and one-on-one time with Strom requires an appointment. Check out this unique business right here in Rockbrook Village, and tune into the Obsessed With the Dress premiere Aug. 2. Check wetv.com for show air-times.

UPDATE: The show now premieres July 27 at 8 p.m.

Express Your Creative Self

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

This is my third of a series of advice articles for women 60+ who want to style themselves fashionably and age-appropriately. In my first article, I gave women guidelines and a must-have list of fashions and separates that work in any wardrobe and could be personalized with accessories. In the second article, I talked about the fact that there are no rules in fashion, just relationships…meaning you can make almost everything work if you know how to properly coordinate and accessorize.

Now, it’s time to address the women over 60 who are not comfortable dressing like their counterparts…the ones who have a want and need to express their unique selves through fashion. These are the women who don’t care what their friends are wearing because they dress for themselves. Women who have advanced style, which is also the title of a blog and recently released book by Ari Seth Cohen.

Advanced style has stunning photos of older women—some into their 90s—all dressed to express and entertain themselves. They don’t all look good because there’s a fine line between fabulous and foolish. In New York, many creatives of all ages dress on the wild side every day! They keep Bill Cunningham of The New York Times dashing from one corner and event to the next so that he can photograph them for his New York Times stories and videos. The harmony of exceptional clothes, attitude, and flair makes them interesting and attractive.

I love being creative with pieces I know are exceptional. If you have the flair, the right pieces, and the courage to dress as a work of art, do it! But it’s not easy to do it right. Most people spend years collecting before they have enough to work with. You don’t just go out shopping one day and find amazing, one-of-a kind designs in Omaha, or anywhere, and internet finds worth having can be costly and not guaranteed to fit. Another very important thing is that if the pieces you play with are not quality, you end up looking like a clown rather than a woman of advanced style.

It was fun styling me for my picture (above). The hat is one I bought in 1981. I designed and made the silk taffeta jacket in 1983. I had the gloves custom made in New York in 1985. The skirt is the bottom half of a dress I designed and made in 1997. Each piece individually looks proper in my everyday wardrobe. Together, they become artistic expression!

Think about the following quotes from the book. They’re all true.

“It always pays to invest in quality. It never goes out of style.”

“Style is about the right clothes, the right jewelry, the right know-how, and the right attitude.” “Fashion says ‘me too,’ style says ‘only me.’”

If this is what you’re about, go for it at any age!

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.

Style at 60 Plus!

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Jim Scholz

Sixty may be the new 40, but the reality is at 60, NOBODY looks like they did at 40! You can exercise for hours, spend a fortune on face creams, have this, that, and the other tucked or filled, but the reality is you end up looking great for 60 but not like you did at 40. Hair, makeup, and wardrobe all need to be addressed at 60 to make a new and fabulous you!

As a fashion designer for more than 30 years, I’ve spent thousands of hours in the fitting room with clients of all ages. I’ve seen and worked around the subtle changes that creep onto all of us over the years. I like working with women over 60. I love creating and styling for the woman who understands that it’s important at all ages to look fashionable, but that age and shape need to be considered when determining what fashion trends are right after turning 60.

Nothing looks worse than a 60+ woman in a dress that’s too short and too revealing, as she stomps around in shoes that are ridiculously high, rattling costume jewelry that’s “cute” rather than sophisticated. The opposite extreme that’s sad to see is a perfectly lovely 60+ woman hiding in boring, understated pieces that do not have a contemporary cut, and wearing belts, shoes, and jewelry from another time. Old clothes are especially taboo as we get older. They’re vintage and fun to 20-somethings. They just plain make a seasoned woman look even older.

We all need to embrace and glorify who we are at every age. That starts with an investment in Quality. A few classic, quality pieces speak a language of style that translates to fashion when accessorized for the times. Quality makes a difference in everything, especially clothes! It speaks volumes about you as a person and makes you feel better about yourself, too. Don’t let a cheap look bring you down, and remember, quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.

I believe in comfort, but clothes that are too comfortable make us lazy. Dressing up energizes us. I’ll admit it’s a job, and that’s why I keep busy styling people. Most of us accumulate and save too much. We become overwhelmed with decision-making as we dress for everyday and for special occasions. It takes someone with an eye for cut and proportion to determine what is flattering and right for the individual. That last comment brings me to relationships…so important in fashion, and I’ll write about them next time.

WARDROBE MUST- HAVES

  • Classic white shirts
  • Great-fitting Pants
  • Great-fitting blue jeans
  • Great-fitting black jeans
  • The right black jacket
  • Shell and cardigan sweater sets
  • Fashion eyewear
  • Statement belts
  • Oblong scarves
  • Fashion flats
  • Fashion heels (within reason)
  • Contemporary jewelry
  • A lightweight high fashion bag
  • Dresses, skirts, coats & boots are must-haves, too, but not the same for all!
  • QUALITY is a must for all!

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.