WHAT I WORE WHEN

Rachel Ford, with Kyle Ford, wearing a Betsey Johnson thermal skull dress in 2012.

Rachel Ford, with Kyle Ford, wearing a Betsey Johnson thermal skull dress in 2012.

Recently, I was sitting in on a presentation at work that featured photographs of me throughout the last four years.  While most people might appear generally the same- plus or minus a few pounds or laugh lines- I found myself embarking on a colorful tour of my past hair color, hair styles, and fashion phases.  

When it comes to my style, two things are certain: 1) I am not afraid to take risks, and 2) I tend to get a bit obsessive.  When I decide that I'm in to something, I am ALL ABOUT IT- until I'm totally OVER IT, that is.

My bestie suggested that I write about my [many] fashion phases on the site, so here goes the first of several blasts from my style past.  FIrst up, the "ALL BETSEY EVERYTHING" phase.

Rachel Ford meeting Betsey Johnson (for the second time) in 2013, wearing a vintage dress.

Rachel Ford meeting Betsey Johnson (for the second time) in 2013, wearing a vintage dress.

While my Betsey Johsnon phase technically started when I was fourteen, we'll consider the years 2012 to 2014; until that time, my relationship with the brand was more of a distant admiration and idolization of Betsey herself.  Though each milestone, family vacation, and birthday celebration typically involved visiting one of her boutiques, I rarely left with more than a logo tee or photo with the salespeople (whom I desperately wanted to be when I grew up).  

Eventually I would acquire a few of her pieces, usually sale items, that I would venture to wear for special events or when I was feeling especially confident.  While I coveted Betsey's flamboyant style, I was not always prepared for the attention that I would receive for standing out in the suburb where I grew up and attended school.

Mostly, the pieces remained on their hangers, tufts of pink leopard chiffon poking out among the articles in my regular rotation.  When I moved to San Francisco, I thought it would be my opportunity to adopt her attention-grabbing style, but I found myself favoring sweaters, t-shirts, and jeans to polka dots and sequins.

My relationship with Betsey and her clothes was something I thought of from time to time and appreciated from afar.  I thought the boutique would always be there when and if I had the guts and the finances to pull it off.

Rachel Ford standing in front of the Wooster Street Betsey Johnson boutique on its final day.

Rachel Ford standing in front of the Wooster Street Betsey Johnson boutique on its final day.

One day in 2012, I was innocently surfing on my iPad when I read this.  Betsey Johnson was closing all of her stores and liquidating their contents!  Suddenly, I needed to preserve this piece of fashion history by collecting it- all of it.  

Though it was still expensive, the liquidation prices made it suddenly seem affordable, and the finality of it all made it seem urgent.  I ran all over NYC, triumphantly snatching up items from her stores, showroom, and personal collection.  Each visit was a thrill; I never knew what I would find!

Once the doors had been closed for good, I had to get creative.  I scoured second-hand stores, collecting the treasures that I had coveted over two decades.  When I traveled to other cities, one of my favorite passions was to find the local Crossroads Trading Company or Buffalo Exchange and flip through rack after rack, searching for treasures.  I was a pro at spotting what I wanted.  

Next came eBay.  On the internet auction site, I would search for the dresses, rompers, and jackets that had been too expensive in the store and had been a heartbreak to leave behind during the days of my youth.  It was so exciting to find- and finally wear- them.

And wear them, I did.  I loved standing out, and these were no longer special-occasion pieces; I had enough Betsey to wear every day.  I was frequently stopped by street style bloggers, requesting to snap photos of my bold style.  Then, a promotion at work caused me to reevaluate my style, and just like that, I had moved on to the next phase.  

As I cleaned out my jam-packed closet and sold dress after incredible dress (many back to the very second-hand stores from which they were purchased), I hoped that there was a girl who would find the same joy in the pieces that I had.

Below are some photos of me wearing pieces from my collection in 2012-2014: