A Love of Fashion Does Not Equate to Materialism

My favorite and most memorable piece of clothing? That’s hard. It might be my Thirty Seconds to Mars sweater, since I love the band. And Jared Leto. It might be the vintage blush silk top that I got on my first vintage shopping trip.

No. It is my Tiffany’s bracelet. It’s silver with a heart hanging off of it. Why is it my favorite? Because it belonged to my grandmother, who died of ovarian cancer when I was too young to even understand what cancer was. When the doctors informed her that she only had a few weeks left to live, my grandfather went to Tiffany’s and bought her the most beautiful bracelet he saw. It was the most extravagant thing she had ever owned, costing less than $500. After she passed away, my mother gave it to me, and it was one of the few physical reminders that I had of her.ArielleMcManus

Fast-forward many years later to October 29th, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy changed my life. My family had to evacuate the house, and when we came back the next day, we saw that everything we owned had been destroyed. The bracelet had been washed away in the flood. I was devastated.

My boyfriend felt terrible that I lost the bracelet, along with everything else, in the storm. He saved up his money and for this past Christmas, he bought me a new one. That bracelet, which may just seem like a materialistic item to others, means the world to me. It is a reminder of the amazing woman that my grandmother was, and also a reminder of my boyfriend. There is so much love associated with that bracelet.

You may be wondering what the point of that story was. Well, that was my homework assignment for my Fashion Forecasting class. After the class finished telling their stories, my professor told us that the point of the assignment was to get the class to see that fashion is not merely about “things”. There is a story behind fashion. There is a history, as well as many emotions, that accompany pieces of clothing and accessories. Some do not understand this. There are those that say fashion is materialistic, and those that follow fashion are spoiled. That is not true.

Fashion is about you. Fashion is about the way you feel. It is about the things you have experienced. It is about the hardships of your life, and well as the riches of your life. Do not let your love of fashion make you feel as though you are materialistic or spoiled. Fashion is how you express yourself. If you love fashion, embrace it; don’t feel ashamed of it.

So, what’s your most memorable item of clothing?


Back to Class

Class this past week was a blessing (a herd of unicorns is also called a blessing, but class this week really was like being in a herd of magical horses).
The moment I walked in, I felt like my life was picking up and moving on. My classmates were really supportive and made me feel a lot better than I had before. Professor Uvenio gave up his break to talk to me and listen to my story. He even gave me a glue stick to replace the one which got ruined in the flood.
After class, my family met me at THE BEST fried chicken place ever, Hill Country Chicken on West 25th and Broadway. I highly suggest you check it out. ALL OF THE FOOD is delicious. THEY HAVE PIES. AND MINI PIES. AND PIE SHAKES. Pies worthy of inducing a diabetic coma. Then we went to Goodwill, and got some clothes that we needed really bad.
Sorry if this post is a lot shorter than my usual one, and not as well written or thought out. I’ve been really busy clearing out rooms to live in, putting away stuff, stressing out over school… it’s a lot to put on a 16-year old’s shoulders. I’m thankful for all the things I do have, though. I’m thankful my fabric and sewing machines weren’t ruined. I’m thankful my entire family is alive and safe. I’m thankful that the illustrations I was working on weren’t ruined. I’m thankful we had a place to go, and I’m thankful my grandma took us in. I’m thankful for the amazing friends I have who’ve shared their clothes with my sister and me.
If you know anyone who’s been affected by the hurricane, ask them what they need. If they need clothes, my favorite thrift store (Goodwill) has a special for hurricane victims where they have $50/person (up to $250 per family) to spend on whatever they need. It’s not advertised, but you have to talk to the manager before shopping, tell your story, provide your name and address, and have them ring up your purchases. Here’s a link to an article from Glamour magazine on other ways to help: http://www.glamour.com/inspired/blogs/the-conversation/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-relief-ways-to.html
So next post will be back to scheduled programming along the lines of fashion and FIT. This hurricane’s thrown everything out of whack for me, and it’s taking some time to adjust to the new normal.
Did you get affected at all? What’s your story? How are you dealing with the after-effects?


All The Little Things


Sorry I haven’t really been able to update, Hurricane Sandy left us with no power and living so close to a Zone A neighborhood made it difficult to get any. I really shouldn’t complain considering how much better I have it than so many others (I’ll post some pictures at the end). I hope everyone else is safe or is receiving the help they need!

Since I haven’t been to class in a while I’m going to write about something different today; this post will be about things that inspire me. I’m just going to dive right into it.

What inspires me the most is really just the things in my every day life. I love New York City and the images it conjures up in my mind. As much as I say I hate it, I love walking through Times Square on my way to school each and every morning. I love the pedestrian traffic (unless I have somewhere to be). I love knowing that the people I am with on the subway right now I will never see again in my life. But, most of all, I love being able to surround myself with such artistic and interesting people. That’s where I draw most of my inspiration from. From my school where everyone is a performing artist to the classes I take at FIT, I’m constantly surrounded by people who are thriving and expressive.

When I find it difficult to find inspiration, I take a little “me time”, which a lot of people forget to do. It’s important to reflect and think about what’s going on in your daily life. In my Acting Technique classes, my teachers are always telling us that it’s impossible to play an emotion that you’ve never felt, which is why it is said that it takes twenty years to become a great actor. You can only talk about the things you know, and the same goes with expression. I always go back to what I am feeling and see how I can express it. It is also very therapeutic and can solve almost any problem. Even though graphic design might not express emotions in the same way that illustration does, it can still be a great problem solving technique.

I’ve tried to draw mostly with pen so that I can’t erase. It has helped me see that sometimes, things don’t have to look perfect. It depends on the context, but sometimes pieces can look their best in a more textured, sketchy style.

After class a few weeks ago, I went to my mom’s friend’s studio and she showed me things she used to make called “future boards.” She took pictures and words that described the kind of person that she wanted to be and put them on a board. Then she would work towards those goals and, later, look back on it to see what she has achieved since making the board. The goals can been short term or long term. I haven’t used this technique but it seems like a great way to keep track of progress or as a reminder of  something to strive for.

These words shouldn’t be regarded as blanket statements. For some people the best art comes from things they want to experience and not emotions they have experienced, this is just what I’ve learned works for myself. I hope everyone can learn what works for them and develop their own ways to achieve inspiration.

What are ways you find inspiration?

Until next time,



The water was higher than the sidewalk. All of the people on the ground floor of my building complex have been forced to move out and everything in their house has been contaminated with toxic water.

Force of Hurricane Sandy


I lived in Rockaway.
Last Saturday, I came home from class and photographed all my old illustrations. Put them back in a different spot than usual. Tossed my markers on my bottom bunk, put the 11×14 sketchpads on their shelf. Gloated over the deals I got on fabric for my Halloween costume… Didn’t give the weather a second thought. It was slightly cloudy.
The next day, I skipped Mass to help my mom clean up the backyard and move furniture upside down so it wouldn’t blow away. Then I went to babysit, and helped them do the same.
Monday came. The rain started. My friends and I started a “Hurricane party” on Skype. The water started coming down harder. Mom and I took a walk down to the beach. The waves were twice their normal height and foaming white, cresting multiple times and washing up to the sea wall. Foam sprayed the houses closest to the beach. My rain boots started to leak, so I went home. The rain fell harder and the wind picked up. Sewers began to flood. Water began to pool in the streets, and the ocean passed the wall. Sea level rose. And rose. And rose. Just before we lost power, I saw water in my back yard. A gushing stream, rising quickly. Then the lights flickered, and didn’t turn back on. The water kept rising. Candles were lit. And then the carpet started squishing under my footsteps. Water was coming in from under my back door. The only thoughts I had, honestly, were to get my fabric to higher ground, low-lying boxes of clothes and my leather boots to safety. It bubbled up from cracks between the floorboards long filled with dust. No sooner had the last box of fabric hit the top of my desk when suddenly, the water was up past my ankles. Disgusting, murky black water. While I was saving my fabric, my mom had gotten my little sister and Dad into the attic, and we spent the next ten minutes funneling pillows, blankets, coats, and pants up the narrow, rickety ladder. The water was up to my knees when Mom ordered me up the stairs.
We watched the water rise. Rise, ruining everything it touched. Paper, carpet, books, artwork. It asked not what it touched, only if it was in its way. We slept on the hard floor of the attic, the wind whistling around us, and the water rising.
1AM and I woke up. 3 feet of water stood still along the floorboards.
2AM, there was 6 inches less.
3AM, there was only a half- foot of water.
4AM, it was all out. Out of the house. There was still about 2 feet outside, and the back steps floated away. My mom and I conducted a rescue mission for the chickens… 2 of them had drowned. I wish all the best to General Tso and Marsala, and they will be sorely missed.
The next morning, we went down and saw the extent of the damage. Everything from the waist down was ruined. All my sweaters. Shirts. Boots. My sister’s entire closet. My mom’s entire wardrobe; my Dad’s. All of it. The washer and dryer. Couches. TV, wii, Guitar Hero controllers. My mom’s fabric. All of it. We have nothing now, besides for what we carried in desperate flight upstairs.
But we have it good compared to some people. While no, we can’t live in our house anymore, and no, the cars don’t work, the sewing machines were saved. My dad’s computer was saved. My dresses were high up enough to not be ruined. My family was alive.
Not everyone was so lucky. Wildfires blazed across Breezy Point, decimating over 80 homes with no deaths. The entire 400 block of beach 130th street was razed to the ground, and everything between beach 114th and 116th was burned to the ground. The beachfront properties, worth millions of dollars…gone. Destroyed. Entire porches, walls, rooms, gone. Washed out to sea. Sand, everywhere. Basements and garages, doors forced open…flooded. Cars found blocks away from their parking spots. Fish lying in the streets, and trash everywhere. One woman got swept out to sea and was able to fight her way back to the third floor of her house, another escaped from behind a floating dresser in a flooded basement. Others weren’t so lucky. A woman bled to death after a shard of glass from a blown out window sliced her neck open, and a man drowned in his basement after the water shut him in.
Cell phone service was out. Electric was out. People wandered the streets, looking for their friends. It was surreal. It still is. I’m finding it hard to believe I’m typing this from my grandma’s basement, and that we might be staying here for the next year. The house is inhabitable. There’s mold growing from the standing water and sewage coating everything. We have next to nothing.
Now I’m living in Sheepshead Bay, at my grandma’s overly cluttered house. She’s been a quilter, sewist, knitter, crocheter, chef, patternmaker and an insane amount of other things over her life, and once I finish clearing out spaces for my family and I to live, there are so many opportunities to learn here. Already, I’ve come across a veritable treasure trove of old issues of Sew News, Sew Beautiful, and Threads (all really good sewing magazines). While most of my clothes were destroyed, the generosity of people I hardly know is overwhelming.
Some places that need help still (in NYC) are Rockaway (whole peninsula, from Far Rock to Breezy) and Broad Channel. From experience, the Red Cross isn’t doing much. They need hot food and help getting warm clothes/building supplies/cleaning out their houses. If you want to help, drive down, find someone working in their house, and ask them what they need help with. Every little bit helps.
I honestly can’t wait for Saturday, for class, to put a sense of normalcy back in my life. I need it.

The street flooded, and the water was coming up to the grass on the front lawn.
  Backyard. The steps to the back porch floated away
.   My room. Everything from the waist down is covered in toxic sewage and seawater.  
 The infamous chicken coop. Got knocked off one of its support beams and leaned over during the flood. Thankfully, the side that had the perch built in was the side that got tipped out of the water. Sadly, my two favorite chickens did not make it. 
 Alternate view of the back yard  
  My Dad’s car. The water was at least over the hood, and it picked up a 4×4 left over from the coop and deposited it.
  My mom inspecting the 5 foot high water line on the side of my house