Style and the City
BETH JONES IS STRUTTING DOWN the sidewalk in her platform shoes. Her arms and hips sway. Stopping at a crosswalk along Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, the 27-year-old looks both ways and adjusts her dyed blond bangs, which hang like a starlet's over her white vintage Jackie O's. You can almost feel the wind blow through her hair as she steps into the trash-strewn street. A camera crew follows close behind, capturing every detail.
Jones is a "stylist and fashion blogger" — as it reads on her business card. She cites Amelia Earhart and Mary-Kate Olsen as style icons, and today she is wearing an outfit that most assuredly is causing passersby to stop and notice: a sheepskin vest over her polyester floral jumper, forest-green knee socks. A white wool cap slouches on the back of her head, Rastafarian style. Her nails are painted in her "signature" orange. She calls her look "vintage glam" or "dramatic flair," which means multiple thrift-shop finds worn as if they were designer pieces out of a fashion spread in Elle, a magazine Jones also cites as an inspiration on her blog thevintagesociety.com.
As she continues her video shoot, which will soon be posted on her blog, she peers into storefront windows and intently watches traffic flow. The expression on her face looks like that of a French ingenue who has just discovered the "real world." And, if the real world is one where people have creative jobs that allow them to express themselves freely, maybe she has.
The light this afternoon is crisp. Blue sky breaks out through an otherwise cloudy day, making all the nearby colors pop: the blue of a mailbox, the patch of green weeds growing along the sidewalk, the multicolored graffiti covering a parked truck. Suddenly this stretch of Sunset looks less like a place you might describe as "degenerated and ignored" and more like one you could call "edgy and modern." Or, if you prefer fashion terms, "reworked vintage."
"I don't take fashion serious," she says, after agreeing to take a break to talk. "Clothes are fun to me. I am not a Calvin Klein black-simple. It's dress-up, like little girls with their box of clothes from their mom."
Despite the title on her card, Jones has never styled a photo shoot other than the ones she has posted on her site. She started her blog less than a year ago, after quitting a corporate job. Originally envisioned as a place where she could develop her ideas and meet other creative dressers while she plotted to open a boutique, the blog has, as she puts it, "taken off like crazy."
It received 30,000 hits this month, has been featured in the online magazine N.E.E.T. and even attracted the attention of one of her idols, Aya T. Kanai, the style editor for Teen Vogue. It also attracted the attention of the people who put together the new Visionaries in Residence program for the surfwear brand Quicksilver. Where the company often sponsors athletes, for this program Jones and five other young, creative women gain access for a year to the company's resources and a new Sunset Boulevard storefront/workspace called siteLA (it's also a Web site, siteLA.org). This part of L.A. is new to Jones, a South Carolina native who lives in Santa Ana, but is now spending more and more time in the Eastside neighborhood. She's hoping the siteLA support will help her open her own Vintage Society retail shop and start her own Society Girl line of redesigned vintage fashion.
"It all began with a desire to be in the fashion industry," Jones says of her original blog.
"The only way I could see it working, 'cause I didn't have anything fashion on my resume, was to make it happen for myself. I wanted to open a store, I wanted to do vintage but with a modern twist, do redesign and stuff like that. My whole idea with it was to create a place where girls come together; [girls] who love fashion, who inspire each other. [Now] people are contacting me from around the world and girls are becoming "society girls" — that's what I call them. It's becoming an online fashion community that I initially envisioned as a store. My dream is to eventually be styling freelance."
THE PREMISE FOR THE VIDEO Jones is shooting today is "two girls, kinda lost in their own world. They love fashion and they discover this door that then leads to this rack of clothes that holds friendship and inspiration and more of what they love."
Jones and her sister-in-law Lauren Turner play the two girls, who start off as strangers dressed in fall styles and are soon transformed into friends dressed in springtime floral dresses. It ends with them running through the city after bonding over their love of fashion. She sees it as a metaphor for everything her blog represents.
Turner, who is heavily featured in many of the Vintage Society photo shoots, sees her sister-in-law as a creative inspiration.
"You can't talk to her for five minutes, or see her for five minutes, without noticing something creative she is doing. I mean, the hours she will spend tracking down estate sales and thrift stores. Shopping with her is a way she connects with people. So many of her friendships, this is part of what we will do for fun. I think [her blog] just incorporates how much she is a people person and how creative she is."
Turner is not the only family member helping out today. The cameramen are Turner's husband, Jones' brother, and Jones' husband, Brian Jones, a fifth-grade history teacher who uses self-penned raps in class — and no, he was not named after the deceased Rolling Stone; his parents are Beatles fans.
Brian Jones, who has shot almost every fashion spread on the Vintage Society site, agrees that his wife is a force.
"She is not meant to be in a cubicle all day, and it's fun to see her pursue her dreams and use the creativity that God has given her."
"He knows since he met me that I was different," she interrupts, pulling up her knee socks on her otherwise bare legs.
Brian, do you remember what Beth was wearing on your first date?
"Yes." Jones smiles at the memory. "She was wearing a blue sundress ..."
"That blew over my head at the Getty," says Jones, again interrupting her husband but this time pantomiming a dress going over her head. "The wind caught it; it was totally Marilyn Monroe. It was really funny."
"That," interrupts her husband, "was when I knew she was the one."
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