Open Letter: Dear Pittsburgh Style Bloggers

I realized something while speaking with a group of peers at Podcamp Pittsburgh this past Saturday. 
I am part of a movement.  

*Writer's note...I am clearing saying "fashion" in the above still frame, not a different "f" word.* 

There is a line in The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom which was immediately scribbled on a hankie next to my bed upon reading it. "Everyone joins a band in this life." Nerve struck. Good ol' Albom with his simple, yet powerful sayings. My mind went into a deep tailspin naming, remembering them all: There is my curated little family, my extended family, work crews (past and present), sports teams (only past), graduating classes, friends near and far (and past and present), lovers of vintage, writers, the list continues. Just think of all the the bands, the teams and families, you have joined throughout your current definition of "a lifetime." All brought forth for a reason, to play a part. 

As a busy summer winds down, my latest band seems to be making a statement. This open letter is for them. 

Dear Pittsburgh Fashion/Style Bloggers,

Thank you. It seems trivial, but that thank you carries a lot of admiration, emotion, and gratefulness. Maybe I should have written it in all caps. THANK YOU. Better? How about... T H A N K  Y O U. Feeling the sincerity yet?

You openly embraced a girl from Philly with a background in sports and a love for style. My lack of experience in the blogging realm or the missing fashion buzz words on my resume did not lead to prejudgments. Instead, it led to intrigue and page views. It led to invitations which led to conversations. It led to acceptance. You did not take the easy road and write me off. You took the road less traveled; you graciously gave me your effort and time. You listened and learned about what drives me and the true reason why I started anew. Listening such as this is rare these days. I have not and will not take that for granted. 

You are a group of strong, intelligent, original people. I find it hard to name a day I did not learn something from one of you. Through discussions of ideas and "what's next," a single line in a post, or dynamic image captioned with the link to the perfect LBD, you keep my mind churning. We have different styles when it comes to clothes and posts and life, but our drive and love affair with style and fashion and this city... it bonds us. This bond is not only present, but happily accepted. Building one another up is commonplace here. In an industry and medium where competitiveness easily leads to negativity and jealously, we view an individual success as a band success. These triumphs are met with a raised glass and not a raised nose. United is a qualifier we do not run away from. Fashion seekers, experts and enthusiasts may easily overlook us due to our geographical location and the old stereotype it holds. But we know, a united voice is a heard voice. 

To those of you I've met, shared drinks among ideas and good shoes, and to those I will meet, T H A N K. Y O U for allowing me to join this band. I am a proud member. 

Cheers, Jessa

The above Pittsburgh Podcamp 2016 panel discussion was truly an honor.
Speaking alongside these creative, talented ladies about Fashion Blogging in the Worst Dress City of America was not only fun, but extremely insightful. Give them all the love!

Keep that Wonder

One of my cherished qualities about my husband is this: he has never lost his childlike wonder. Ben is excitable about the small things and openly celebrates simplicity. Just the other night, he was blowing bubbles with our favorite claimed nephew, Aidan, and I swear, the glow in his eyes matched that of the 19-month-old. Bubbles are met with the same amazement as births and weddings. I don't know how he maintains this quality, but to my admiration, he does. Life can be harsh. It can drag you through the mud leaving stains, but Ben has somehow found a way to keep this large part of him clean, untainted. This kimono and Ben have a lot in common. 

Introducing my latest vintage find: this silk kimono. A beauty from juju (where else?) completely covered in delicate floral embroidery. There are bows where there should be buttons and bareness where there could be sleeves. The mock collar gives it a sense of formality. The sheerness says, "Let's party!" Instead of the white hue blending with my pale coloring to create one big pasty blob (ain't nobody got time for that), it plays nicely with my alabaster skin.

A feminine softness is projected when I wear this kimono. It often compliments the androgynous pieces paired with it. Just the other weekend, I rocked it unbuttoned over high-waisted denim with The Rolling Stones band tank. Black sneakers and round sunnies were added to complete the look. Instead of my typical boyish jeans and band tee look, the kimono brought an element of surprise. A nice, dainty add-on. 

Here you will find a simple bodysuit underneath the kimono; the better to highlight the purity and premium condition of this vintage piece. Like Ben's childlike wonder, this kimono has been faced with events and moments which could have easily diminished its authentic foundation. Makeup traces and unknown stains, loose threads, missing closures; none of these common challenges with vintage clothing appeared on this piece. It has been passed through many hands; too many to be traced, actually. Yet, the purity has been protected. It met my hands with light and wonder, pure as the day it was sewn.  

Ben and this kimono have a lot in common. They both remind me to preserve that glow. Take pleasure and excitement in the little things, and do not grant the bad things the power to stain your outlook. Remember, there was once a time when you saw everything as an adventure. Amazement and wonder were commonplace. Let's be amazed again and find solace and excitement in the little things. Let's find that pure part of us and keep it in mint condition. Let's keep that wonder, folks.

Cheers, Jessa

Photos by the most talented Merritt of Merritt Lee Photography
Kimono from my favorite and go-to in Pittsburgh Vintage, juju and bodysuit from Free People
Hair + Makeup by Marie Minahan (see this rock star at work below!)

Marie at Work

Marie at Work

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