Marc Jacobs: 30 years later

Last week I was in New York for a busy buying trip. Fashion Week had just ended and so the serious work of reviewing collections and making decisions was in progress in showrooms across the Fashion District.

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One of my favorite stops was the Marc Jacobs showroom. I was there to shop the handbag collection. This designer has long been a leader in this category and the Marc Jacobs line of handbags has been among our top sellers.

Handbags on display in showroom last week

Marc Jacobs, of course, is an American design success story like no other. A former designer for Louis Vuitton, he is a creative genius who knows what women want. Today he continually surprises the market with his creations and holds a significant role in the industry.

However, I first knew of Marc Jacobs 30 years ago when he was only 23 and just starting out. In fact, designs from his very first, very small ready-to-wear line were shown at Tres Mariposas in 1986. I’ll never forget how that showing came about.

Back then, once a year, our New York fashion consultant brought interesting items from a number of design houses to El Paso to present at Tres Mariposas. In 1986, her selections for us included a few wool sweaters from some unknown guy named Marc Jacobs.

I remember thinking, “Oh, my gosh, those shrunken little sweaters look like he found them in his grandmother’s attic.” Turns out, my impression was not far from the truth! Jacobs began his fashion career by learning to knit from his grandmother. Our New York consultant said, “His sweaters may look like moth-eaten nothings, but you watch, he is going to be big.” Boy, was she right!

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Marc Jacobs has always been known for retro-influenced designs and fresh takes on vintage looks. Frequently, his designer collection runway shows are full of things that are just fantastical and far out.

But they are also so on target. His show for fall 2016 was no exception and even featured Lady Gaga on the runway!

“Jacobs showed his extravaganza of fashion noir on a stark white set to the sound of single chimed notes by Japanese musician Keiji Haino,” wrote a reporter in Women’s Wear Daily. “The models’ eyes and lips were black. The clothes were dark, wondrous, inventive, eccentric pilings of tweeds, furs, silks, and endless decoration, Victoriana meets Goth meets Biker Chic meets Varsity Chic meets Red Carpet meets Violet Incredible and countless other girls of Jacobs’ runways past.”

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The collection was indeed flamboyant, fanciful and exaggerated. The showroom that we visited was set up like a runway with looks from his recent Fashion Week show, so we got to see some of the styles.

Sure enough, what we saw in the Marc Jacobs showroom set the tone for our entire trip. Fashion is moving to a Victorian-inspired trend for fall. Think high necklines, lace, femininity and some gothic darkness. This trend was also pleasantly interpreted at hip, contemporary lines like Elizabeth and James.

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This designer has certainly come a long way since I first saw his work 30 years ago – and I’m always curious to see what he’s going to come up with next!

High-low hemlines are on a high

The trend of high-low hemlines is in full force. Like many fashion trends, it was introduced with exaggerated drama, and even appeared on a few “worst trends” lists.

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Now, there are high-low blouses, dresses, tees and evening gowns that are delightful. It is a twist of newness and eminently wearable.

Here are some reasons to love the high-low trend:

• It translates into easy shapes for any body type.

• The silhouette adds femininity and a bit of drama.

• It says “I’m on trend” without being too far out.

• It can be an easy day-to-night transition with a simple change of shoes and/or jewelry.

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Now here are some ways to wear the high low trend:

• High-low blouses or tunics: Pair with slim fit pants or capris. Because some tops are voluminous and billowy on their own, wear it with a slimmer pant so that you still keep your feminine silhouette. Longer high-low tops are great over leggings.

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• For high-low skirts: Pair with a fitted top, tucked in if it works, and fabulous accessories. A wedge, heel or flat sandal is fine, just don’t let the skirt drag.

• For high-low dresses: This one is easy! Simply accessorize.

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For spring, think bohemian, pastels and stripes

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Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends – and you got some fun new clothes either for yourself or as gifts!

Who knows what the New Year will bring? Let us hope for a peaceful, prosperous year with a new burst of kindness and compassion for all.

While we have no idea about the country’s future, I’m glad to tell you about the future of fashion trends starting this spring. Up in New York and across the Atlantic in Paris, the experts have conducted their research and made their predictions. Here’s a sneak preview of top spring trends, starting with the most important colors.

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• Pretty pastels: You can expect to see buttercup and sunshine yellow and 50 shades of pink from “sunset hot” pink to the palest ghostly pink. In a class to itself, the new “powdery pastels” are muted with white and take on almost a neutral feel.

• Fruity and festive: The colors of melons add a tasty tang, including cantaloupe, casaba and honeydew, along with peachy hues ranging from coral to light peach fuzz. Another warm color to watch for is true apple red, a pure crimson color with no orange, brown or violet undertones.

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• White, white, white: This spring brings lots of white accents, in white lace, white sheer inserts, white trim. Crisp white shirts will always be in style, whether they are short or tunic-length.

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• Green and blue: We’ll be seeing more green than in previous years, including leaf green that’s the color of palm fronds, emerald green, the slightly darker malachite green and acid green, which has a touch of yellow in it. Cobalt blue will remain big, along with royal blue.

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• Stripes: Wide, narrow, wavy, variegated, broken – all kinds of stripes abound on dresses and tops. Even athletic pants and jackets will feature stripes this spring.

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• Bohemian style: I discussed this as a major trend last fall and it is definitely continuing into 2016. This trend encompasses “hippie” styles, loose sheer peasant blouses, Indian print tunics, ponchos, maxi-dresses, funky elements, artsy folkloric motifs and more.

• Embellishments: In keeping with this bohemian trend are all sorts of interesting details including tassels, appliquéd jewels, embroidery, beading, lace, sequins, fancy buttons, burnout velvet, raw edges, lacing with grommets and lots and lots of fringe.

• Textures: Fabrics continue to be highly tactile with interesting laser-cut designs, perforations, mesh, crochet trims and chiffon accents.

• Denim: America’s favorite fabric is back with a passion, in all washes and finishes from distressed-ripped to dressy dark. Skinny jeans still dominate, but bootleg and flare are still with us. It’s been a few years, but culottes in denim may catch on this spring; shorts and jackets have never gone away.

• The “new” twin-set: While we will still see plenty of knit tank tops and little T-shirts under cardigans, this season also brings cute shorter, cropped tops and matching jackets in woven fabrics.

• Pants: Not much news here, except watch for wider legs and flowy drawstring styles. You can expect less emphasis on leggings – and no yoga pants outside the yoga class.

Stay tuned for more on these 2016 spring trends. If I had a crystal ball, I’d say that 2016 is shaping up to be a fun fashion year!

Kaftans Are Back for Summer

Kaftans, sometimes spelled caftans, those comfortable robe-like dresses often made of flowy soft fabrics, take many shapes and silhouettes, so it’s hard to generalize about them.However, it’s easy to say that this old style is reaching new heights on runways, at markets and in women’s hearts this season. Designers have reinvented this classic garment and it’s winning fans everywhere.

“I will never forget the first time I went to St. Tropez with my parents and the most glamorous women all wore caftans,” says stylist and designer Rachel Zoe on www.harpersbazaar.com.

Supposedly, designer Diana Vreeland once called the caftan “fashionable for the beautiful people,” but we don’t have to be jet-setters to enjoy the flattering, flowing lines.

“A caftan is always chic and effortless,” adds Zoe. “It’s a trend that began in the 1960s and has transcended time.”

This season we have had kaftans by a young Australian designer flying off our racks. Our contemporary buyer at Tres Mariposas, Gesuina Legaspy, wrote about the design house in a recent fashion posting on her Tres Gal blog. I’m happy to share it with you here, from

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“Every so often, I become so inspired and excited by a designer that I find myself wanting to tell their story, beyond a single photo or a line in a blog about multiple trends.

“I’ve mentioned Camilla here before, but the Australian-based line warrants its very own post, perpetually stealing the show with its vibrant hues, luxe fabrics and inventive style. They are inspired prints from all over the world, and come in a variety of bold colors and graphic patterns.

Designer Camilla Franks

Designer Camilla Franks

“Founded a decade ago by designer Camilla Frank, this luxury brand first caught my eye a couple of months ago, when I scooped up a few colorful kaftans for Tres Mariposas and we sold out within three days. I was infatuated with Camilla at first sight.

“The line is brimming with ‘forever’ pieces – precious silk and Swarovski crystals that can be worn through countless summer events, each garment unique and distinctive.

“I can see these pieces on women of every age, since the kaftans, maxis, kimonos and flowing blouses are flattering on all figures. You’d be in good company in Camilla, since everyone from Beyonce to Kate Hudson to Miranda Kerr are fans.

“My very favorite thing about the brand is that the Camilla dress can be worn half a dozen ways. That’s right – one dress is really six gorgeous styles: one shoulder, high, low, bra tuck, short and mini.

“I had so much fun experimenting with this dress in particular. I’ve learned that when you look good, you really do feel good.

“We’ve got a new batch of Camilla goodies at Tres, and I invite you to come by and try the line for yourself. Nothing says summer quite like Camilla.”

Flowy kaftans by Camilla can be worn in so many ways.

Flowy kaftans by Camilla can be worn in so many ways.

A New York Travelogue

1Last week we went to the Coterie apparel market at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.  Self-described as “a premier global marketplace that bridges apparel and accessories designers to the international Who’s Who of Retailers,” this is the largest show of the year. It is so huge that it’s really hard to describe just how many vendors and buyers attend.

It is always held after the official New York Fashion Week.  Fashion Week is full of runway shows meant to impress celebrities and the press. The following week, it’s time to get down to the business of fashion.

For Tres Mariposas buyers, this September trip includes a couple of days at the huge convention center show and a couple of days dashing to showrooms from one end of Manhattan to the other – Seventh Avenue, Soho, and Midtown. Market is not all glamour. For instance, the Meat Packing District of Manhattan is now a “cool” fashion district.  That means riding up a nasty, grungy freight elevator to see the Rag & Bone showroom.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season.  Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

The Coterie is miles and miles of designer booths displaying their lines for the Spring 2014 season. Clover Canyon is one of the most popular vendors due to their innovative mixing of prints and fabulous bright colors.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

Herve Leger, king of body conscious dresses, has an amazing showroom.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue.  Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process.  Whew!  Tres Mariposas passed inspection.  Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

The “Edit” show was a small, exclusive segregated area within the giant Coterie venue. Vendors and buyers had to go through a rigorous vetting process. Whew! Tres Mariposas passed inspection. Most of all I enjoyed the colorful sophisticated displays at the entry to Edit.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays!  Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

Sometimes it’s hard to get work done because of the distraction of amazingly entertaining visual displays! Alice and Olivia is a line full of young creativity.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon.  Go ahead and splurge.

The fringe trend isn’t stopping anytime soon. Go ahead and splurge.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also.  Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

A TRES customer, KC Nelson, happened to be in New York also. Our contemporary buyer Gesuina Legaspy (right) and KC are excited to discover they have the same phone covers.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered.  He started working in a boutique when he was 14.  A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do.  This photo is in his showroom.  He was adorable to visit with.

Jonathan Simkhai is a relatively new designer we discovered. He started working in a boutique when he was 14. A few good people helped him along the way and he’s making it in the fashion world – not easy to do. This photo is in his showroom. He was adorable to visit with.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel.  Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river. Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more. I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

Our trusty travel agent, Priceline, put us at the very wonderful One UN Plaza Millennium Hotel. Our 35th-floor rooms had a magnificent view of the East River and the city as well as the United Nations complex. Each morning when I got up I opened the curtains and felt exhilarated because it was so stunning, as you can see by this view from my window. Before going to bed at night, I marveled at the city lights reflecting in the river.
Speaking of New York rivers, we all remember US Airways pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the “Hero of the Hudson.” He executed that emergency water landing after his plane was disabled, saving every passenger and crew member. When I see that murky river water, I am in awe of that safe landing and admire Captain Sullenberger’s skills even more.
I’m also proud of my son Creed, an Air Force pilot – he now shares a distinction with the hero: they both have received the Jabara Award from their shared alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy. Creed thought he was in mighty fine company to get the same award as Sully.

The Cyclical World of Fashion: Trends Come and Go

   Have you ever stood in your closet and held up something on a hanger and asked yourself that age-old question: “Is this still in?”

Most women want to wear what is in style, what’s “in,” and love going shopping to see what’s new. Yet we complain when trends change too fast. No wonder one of the burning questions of all time is “What do women want?”

Fashion silhouettes, prints, and colors constantly change. Something new is introduced; it is eventually worn by many women; and finally it is discarded for a new style.

Typically whatever has been out the longest is what will be in next. It might seem like holding onto your old stuff would be the solution. The catch is that when a silhouette, for instance, comes back, it may have distinctly new features.

Some elements actually do stay rather consistent, such as proportions. Wide, flowy, loose tops are generally accompanied by tight pants or a tight skirt, and more form fitting tops are generally worn with wider, looser pants or a full skirt. Wide and blousy from top to bottom isn’t very attractive; a woman can look like the Michelin man. And a too-skinny top with skinny bottoms can evoke Popeye’s girlfriend Olive Oyl.

As an example of the cyclical nature of fashion, let’s look at the evolution of pants over the last fifty years.

Bell-bottomed pants were bold and daring when they arrived on the scene in the late ‘60s. Radical hippies, who had no doubt just been thrown out of their establishment parents’ homes, dared to wear them.60's Wide Leg Polyester

Eventually they were mainstream – and those parents were wearing bell bottoms! So again it was time to moan and groan when a change came along.

The 1980s brought shoulder pads (wide on top) and narrower pants. Remember stirrup pants? After stirrup pants came designer jeans. Oh, gasp! Why would anyone pay those prices to look like a celebrity? The silhouette was still narrow. Oh, how I loved my Escada jeans.

Next a transition began to boot-cut pants. I remember the angst with each of these changes. “Only a tall, skinny model could look good in those!”

But, oh, how our tune had changed when boot cut was on its way out. Boot cut was considered the most flattering. How dare anyone think women might move to a different silhouette?

The painful transition began to skinnier pants. Skinny jeans were daring about seven years ago. Now? Mainstream. The skinnier pant trend led to the skinniest of all – leggings.Pants, Skinny

Guess what? We are on the cusp of another transition. You guessed it. What comes after skinny? Wide again. Last year and again this year, wide, print, palazzo-style pants have been popular. They are an alternative to the maxi-dress.Palazzo Pants

This year’s version of an “only for a tall skinny model” style are the banded-ankle pants, which are blousier and fuller and then tight at the ankle. But sure enough, they are becoming a bit more mainstream as our eyes get used to this version of wider pants. A trend that is creating a few gasps right now is the return of the midriff-baring tops – which go with wider pants.Pants, banded, Joie

The “bottom” line: In its own weird way, fashion is predictable. We know that change is a constant, so embrace the changes and enjoy!

One necklace to take you from ordinary to outstanding

deepa gurnani 3Women love, love, love necklaces. For many centuries women have loved wearing necklaces and the 21st century is no different.

Look at all the necklaces in your jewelry box. If you’re curious, you can categorize them by the traditional lengths: the chokers (16 inches long), the “princess necklaces” (18 to 20 inches long), the “matinee necklaces” (22 to 23 inches long), and, of course, the “opera necklaces” (30 to 35 inches long).lulu frost 1Now look to see if you have any of this spring’s hottest necklaces – the “bib necklace.” It’s a funny label, but it gets its name because it sits higher on your neck and it can have the shape of a baby’s bib. It’s close to your neck, but can have added rows of beads down the front or other jewels cascading down from the neck. 

Bib necklaces are often ornately jeweled and a bit over the top.  It’s that over-the-top quality that makes it a perfect accessory for otherwise simple, clean outfits. This season, it’s the accessory that takes an ordinary outfit to an outstanding look.

Bib necklace 2 To create a fascinating and fun outfit, you only need pants, a simple top, and an amazing bib necklace.

If a statement necklace like this feels a little intimidating at first, get out of your comfort zone by first wearing a bib necklace with a black t-shirt. As you get more confident, wear a bib necklace with bright colors and try it with a crazy printed maxi dress. Then wear one on bare skin such as with an evening dress for ultimate impact. It’s wonderful how these necklaces can flatter your face and your figure.deepa gurnani 2Pair your bib necklace with simple earrings if you are the understated type.  Mix it with elaborate earrings if you want a more gypsy-glam look. However you wear it or whatever you wear it with, enjoy this spring’s hottest trend!

Not for the gym: Two athletic-inspired trends

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In previous columns this spring, we’ve talked about how mesh fabrics and perforated materials – two athletic-influenced trends – are adding great new texture to spring fashions.

Today, let’s see how athletic styles are influencing two of this year’s new silhouettes. It’s wonderful when new silhouettes enter the fashion scene. Well, mostly wonderful. It’s fresh and interesting, but most of us hesitate a bit before taking a risk on something new. That’s the way it will likely be with these new looks that are part of the trend toward athletic influences on fashion.

Pants with banded hems

One of these great new trends: loose pants ending in knit bands at the bottom of the legs. This style may be inspired by those fleece gym pants of old, but this is far from workout wear. These new pants are in luxurious silks, drapey charmeuse, or soft linens.

It’s funny – it seems like new silhouettes always start in black, then move to other solid colors and then prints. Watch this trend evolve in that way. Fashion is always about change. That’s what we love about it. We’ve been in a tight skinny pants trend for a few years. So this trend, of course, is looser, more fluid and relaxed.

At Tres Mariposas, the new banded-bottom pants are selling quite well to El Paso fashionistas. One question often asked is, “What kind of shoes do I wear with these new pants?” Good news is that either high or low heels work. Strappy high shoes will make the look sexier, more feminine, and dressier. Just as workable are flat sandals for a casual look.

Fashion sweatshirts

Ah…the comfort of a sweatshirt translated to cutting edge fashion. Hip lines like Rag and Bone, Helmet Lang, and 10 Crosby are all about sweatshirts for the cool and casual. And they aren’t like your old hoodies you wear for jogging. These styles still have the athletic sweatshirt’s comfortable raglan sleeves and round neck, but the comparison stops there.

The sweatshirt gym staple has been restyled and reinvented in rich fabrics like cashmere, silk, and lace. Many of these stylish tops even have leather trim details. Wear them with dressy banded-bottom pants, of course. But also with skinny pants, sleek skirts, or your most flattering jeans.

Give these new athletic-inspired silhouettes a chance – you might just fall in love with the comfort and the fresh new styles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean your closet and donate to YWCA: A win-win

Closet-BlastIt’s that time of year again for the great seasonal closet switcheroo. If you still haven’t switched from your winter wardrobe to your spring and summer clothes, don’t delay. I like to think of the middle of March as your annual wardrobe-switching deadline, so make this your weekend to get to work.

We’ve already enjoyed some gorgeous summery spring days. The last thing you want to do on a bright warm morning is scrounge around tweedy jackets, cashmere sweaters, and leather pants as you look for something light to wear.

The drill is the same as every seasonal change. Sort through your winter clothes before you store them in your out-of-season closet or drawers or wherever you stash them until fall. Make four piles: items that need to be cleaned before storage, items ready to store, a very few transitional winter items that can stay in your closet for a little longer in case it gets chilly, and items that you are ready to give away.

This closet changeover may be a bit tedious, but it’s really therapeutic — and philanthropic! A friend once wished for a closet large enough to hold all of her clothes so she wouldn’t have to do seasonal changes. I disagree. While a gigantic closet sounds great in theory, I think it’s good to be forced to look at your wardrobe at least twice a year. It gets you in the mood for the new season and makes you confront the clothes you should get rid of.

As you consider what clothing to give away, just think about how you’re making space for new clothes that are on trend for this year!

It doesn’t matter if you are giving away something because it doesn’t fit, it’s no longer your taste, or you just can’t bring yourself to wear it one more time. You are entitled to your own rationale, which could be no reason at all – no one needs to justify or explain.

But I can give you one good reason to cull out what you’re not wearing any more, or rather 1300 reasons. The staff at Tres Mariposas is once again collecting women’s and children’s clothes for the YWCA’s acclaimed Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center, with a goal of 1300 items by April 16.

In addition, for every item donated up to 1,300 items, Tres Mariposas will contribute a dollar to go toward an urgent need the center staff has identified for the children living at the TLC: activity uniforms.

Think of all the great activities you might have enjoyed growing up – Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scouts, girls’ soccer or volleyball. Now think of the children who can’t take part in out-of-school activities, such as team sports or Boy Scouts, because they cannot afford the uniforms required for participation.

You can help Tres Mariposas raise $1,300 to purchase these activity uniforms for the children staying at the center. Together we can help children experiencing homelessness in our community have some fun after school!

Especially needed are almost new or gently used women’s clothing for job interviews and office work. However, think about what any woman might need, especially if she had to leave a bad domestic situation in the middle of the night without packing or if she has been homeless with little more than the clothes on her back.

The women who live temporarily at the center while they get back on their feet receive shelter, safety, job training, independent living skills, and help with child care. These women appreciate what all of us appreciate. They need skirts and slacks that fit, attractive tops and jackets, jewelry, watches, purses, and even nice pajamas.

This year, we’re also collecting children’s clothes. If you have kids or grandchildren, you know they outgrow their outfits long before their outfits wear out. It would be great if you can donate gently used boys’ or girls’ clothes for any age, from babies to teenagers. These kids need sweaters and coats, too.

You may already have activity uniforms that your kids aren’t using – things like Girl Scout blouses, Boy Scout shirts, basketball shorts, football pads and pants, baseball pants. With our donation, which will be presented at the YWCA Luncheon on April 17, the Transitional Living Center can buy the special team jersey or shirts needed so these kids won’t be prevented from taking part because they didn’t have the right uniform.

The collection campaign brings a win-win situation: you get a closet organized for spring and the TLC gets 1,300 items of clothing and $1,300 for children’s after-school program uniforms!