July 23, 2018

Written by Frank Vaia

This guy, me, learns or re-learns a lot when I keep my hazel eyes open. And now that I’ve had my cataracts removed and uber amazing lenses implanted, I can see very clearly very far. I also get to wear really fun cheaters for reading, etc.  So naturally, I have an abundant capacity to take in plenty. 



And, holy cow, did I ever during my recent stay in New York...ya’ know The Big Apple, The City, The Big City, NY, NYC, Gotham City, The Capital of the World, The Center of the World, The City that Never Sleeps, The Empire City, Fun City!  



My spouse/architect Tim and I usually escape there once a year or every-other-year. This past June we were motivated to make the trip because the annual national architect convention was happening at the Jacob K Javits Center. I go along when those gatherings are held in interesting cities. Let it be known New York fascinates and energizes me.  It also wears me out because we usually pack in a ton of things to do and places to see all within a few days. 




This time around I decided to buck The City’s black clothing ethos as I planned my wardrobe. We don’t check luggage, so I filled an allowable size carry-on plus my backpack with clothes and shoes for 5 days of adventures and events. (The shoe situation is fodder enough for a whole separate blog, so you’re spared that tale for now.) But my clothing choices--whether you approve/like them or not--are part of the story I’m telling today. 

I enjoy clothes. I like the process, my process anyway, of piecing together what I put on. It’s akin to putting together a puzzle only it doesn’t take as long, and I’m familiar with all the pieces. Chances are good you can picture what’s in your closet too. Go ahead, take a few minutes and try it. Now come back to earth and continue reading because I’m about to get to the real point of this blog.

How we style ourselves, whatever the occasion, whatever the task we’re going to perform, wherever we’re traveling or visiting...signals how we feel about ourselves as much, or I contend more than how we’re perceived.  I repeat..signals how we feel about ourselves as much, or I contend more than how we’re perceived. This is the thing that I took away most from walking the streets and riding the subways of Manhattan. People were owning it!


Let’s use the New York Gay Pride celebrations as an example. Embrace it or not, the tens of thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds, and stories expressing themselves not only pretty much owned the streets of western Manhattan, but they also owned themselves. How refreshing. How powerful!


You know, I had intentions of taking photos of people on the streets dressing however they chose to dress.  Bad idea. First off, I don’t have the credentials nor the recognition of the late Bill Cunningham, New York Times iconic street photographer.

And I didn’t want to be rude or put myself in what could have turned out to be an uncomfortable or unsafe situation.  BUT...I did sneak one photo of a woman that wowed me.  I couldn’t help it. As it turns out she wasn’t camera shy. She looked right at me and put a half-smile on her face.


Striking a pose? Maybe. I absolutely loved how simply and elegantly she was styled.  How could I not swoon over the black, white and camel pieces worn with such panache and topped by a seemingly effortless silvery-blonde hairdo?

She also intrigued me. I wanted to compliment her. I wanted to know where she was going. I really wanted to get to know her. I wanted to bask in the aura of her confidence. I’d bet that Ms. Awesome’s awesomeness begins in her head and heart.

Know what?  We can all be like that woman.

I’m not talking about her stunning outfit and accessories. (But of course, you do know that K. Renee stylists can always hook you up.) I’m saying we have the innate ability and opportunity, and yes, responsibility to put ourselves out to our everyday worlds in ways that present the best of what we’ve got to contribute. 

We’ll feel it when we do. And so will the rest of the universe.

Here’s to you owning YOU!

...and on another note: Beth Coonan, a friend of mine, and I are once again co-chairing a Young Women’s Resource Center (YWRC) event called CELEBRITY SERVERS NIGHT on October 1. The YWRC teaches important parenting and life-skills to over 1,500 girls and young women to guide them in becoming strong, self-confident and successful.


This fundraiser is unique...no pricey admission tickets, no auction items. Here’s how things work: Des Moines “Celebrities,” some more notable than others, gather their friends around dining tables at Centro and the new Django.  


Each guest pays just $45 which covers the cost of a 4-course dinner and service by professional wait staff. The “Celebrities” schmooze with their guests and encourage them to tip generously (very generously) and/or make donations to the YWRC. It’s an enjoyable evening!

In past years the K. Renee staff has been guests.  I’m proud to tell you this year K. Renee is hosting a table! Yep, that’s the kind of community-minded people I work with. If you’d like to join in the fun and support the YWRC, please reserve a spot at the K. Renee tables for the evening.  I'd appreciate it.

To sign up, click the link below.

1) Review the welcome page and learn more about this amazing event


3) And select their seating under K. RENEE TEAM



On another fun note, the ladies are planning a Yoga event this coming Thursday evening.   Need some Zen in your life?   Then this class is for you!  I may be joining in as well.




(Signature translation: Frank)