Miss Colorado Pageant by Michelle Lee


I am driving out to the Denver Tech Center, a vast sinister land of giant hotels and chain restaurants.  And there is the Hyatt, so I park and head upstairs.  Even before I make it to the top, I can tell I am at the right place.   There are girls ranging in ages three to twenty-something prancing around in all sorts of gowns and costumes.  They have glitter on them and chatter excitedly. There is a photographer on hand telling his subject to do generic posey poses.

“Hold your head up, put your hand like a fist underneath your chin, cute, GREAT, cute!”

I stand there and don’t know where to go.  My judge itinerary says to go to the Grand Mesa Ballroom, but all I see is a booth with candy on the table.  I look through the candy and select a Now & Later.  BOOM!  There she is without warning, suddenly in front of me.  Until now, I have no idea what this woman’s name was.  She seemed to be some sort of pageant organizer and spent the entire day breathing hard saying “things are so stressful” when they didn’t seem all that stressful to me.  She has gigantic, intense blue eyes.  She herself is intense.



She hurries me over to the Grand Mesa Ballroom.  There are two other judges.  I am Judge #3.  It turns out we aren’t really the important judges.  The important ones (judges 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) will be judging the next day, Sunday, on evening wear and will also ask the contenders questions like, “Who is your favourite American?” and “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I have no idea why anyone would ask a three-year old such questions.  When I was that age, I wanted to be a cowgirl and my favourite American was Judy Garland as Dorothy.  Anyway, Judges 1, 2 and 3 will rate the girls’ acting, talent and sportswear.  50 is the lowest score and 100 is the highest.  I am cautioned against giving someone a score below sixty: “Just remember, you know, it’s hard to get up on a stage in front of all these people you don’t know.”

It turns out I am a pretty forgiving judge in comparison to the other two.  Judge #1 is Miss. Colorado Galaxy.  That’s like the pageant for older chicks– people in their thirties and stuff.  She actually is rather good looking.  She has red hair and green eyes.  Her red hair is short, and short hair is something not a lot of females can pull off.  Judge #1 is extremely into pageants.  She’s been doing them for 40 years and knows tap, jazz, ballet, et cetera graduate of Colorado Christian University et cetera. She asks the organizers too many questions, and wants very much to take control and serve as the mama bear character of the group, which is certainly fine with me.

Judge #2 owns her own tanning salon company.  She is, as expected, very tan.  She tells me she got her MBA in Australia, which is sort of neat.  She has long manicured nails and they make me nervous when she speaks animatedly and waves her hands around near my face.  She also tells me she needs to lose 30 lbs.  Yes, that is true, but I don’t want to be rude so I say, “Oh…don’t be silly.  A tan always makes a bikini body look even better.”

“Yeah, well,” Judge #2 snorts, “I’ll have to be black to be bikini ready.”

“Please welcome the judges,” the announcer says over the microphone.  We walk in, and people are clapping but the audience is definitely not packed.  I don’t know why I thought it would be.  Then a spotlight is blasted on each individual judge while the announcer gives a brief biography.  Oh God, how painful this is.  Judge #1 and #2 push back their chairs, stand, turn, smile and wave enthusiastically to the crowd.  The announcer tells us about how glad they are to be here to enrich young womens’ lives and to give them confidence.

I didn’t put any crap like that in my biography, so mine is a lot shorter than the other two.

“Last but not least, Judge #3 is Michelle Ferguson.  She was born in Hong Kong and is a graduate of New York University.  She is a bookings agent at John Casablancas Modeling and Acting Agency, and is trying to learn how to be a better cook.”

I don’t want to stand up because I am scared so I crouch sort of like I am about to sit on a toilet raising my bum just inches off the cushion and flap my hand in the air quickly.  The older contestants begin first.  Some of them are pretty, some of them are not.  There are a pair of twins- half Japanese, half white- who are competing against each other (which doesn’t sound so fun to me).  Some of the sportswear outfits are well put together and creative, but others are disastrous like leopard print and plaid capris (score: 55/62).  I give the pretty girls high scores and the ugly ones so-so scores unless they impress me with some sort of dancing or singing act or perhaps incredible gymnastics.

Two ordinary girls in the teen division get 90-something scores from me.  One does a dance to “Fever” and man, it is such a great dance and also she has nice legs.  She is barefoot and her costume is cool.  In addition, she spots her head on time while doing turns and she never stops smiling.  Smiling goes a long way in these sorts of competitions.  I give her a 99.  The second girls sings “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Misérables.  That’s a hard song to sing without sounding really really annoying and also, her audio recording messed up a little and she didn’t lose character.  I gave her a 96.

As the girls get younger, the “talent” section becomes dumber and dumber.  One ten-year old girl does a dance to “Whip It” and she like, has no idea what is going on.  She doesn’t even know the dance!  So her mother is in the audience frantically doing the moves and the girl is just watching her with much confusion and following the moves like she is in an aerobics class or something.  Score: 60 because I feel bad giving a child such a lousy score.

Another “talent” is a magician.  I feel very excited when I see her bringing out her magician box as I too dabbled into the world of magic as an eight-year old.  She is also eight, but her tricks are lame.  During one, she puts a pink handkerchief into her magic velvet bag and then instantly pulls out a blue handkerchief.  The audience cheers and claps.  Uh, if I am not mistaken, I do believe the blue handkerchief was in the velvet bag to begin with.  What kind of trick is that?!  Another is where she puts a retractable sword in her mouth.  All I have to say about that is: a magic trick a pedophile might enjoy.

Later in the day, I walk out of the restroom stall and wash my hands.  One of the contestants, a six-or-so-year old girl is standing at the sinks staring at me with big eyes.  I remember her.  Her sportswear had been a dress from the American Girl Victorian Samantha Dress Collection.  I had coveted the same dress from the same catalogue a long, long time ago.  White with lace and pink bows.  “Good taste in your Samantha dress,” I tell her, “I gave you a good score.”  She smiles <her teeth=”” look=”” like=”” little=”” chiclets=””>, and this is the highlight of my day.</her>

Was judging at a pageant better then a day in the office?  Yes, by far even though I had to listen to one girl screech out Annie’s “Tomorrow” for more than three minutes.





These girls were all nice girls, not like the scary ones you see on shows like “Toddlers in Tiaras”.  They all wanted to sing, dance and model clothes, which are all things most girls love to do.  What astounded me the most was when we had to score the girls’ professional headshots, thank-you letters, volunteer service and transcripts.  Then I started to get bored.  It was just too much unimportant stuff to go through.  Getting three signatures from the principal, vice-principal and dean of your high school?  What for?  You either have it or you don’t.  People can tell by just looking at you once.

Miss. Colorado 2011, I do so applaud you for your disdain and aversion towards laziness.  I could learn a thing or two from you.



A Case of the Monday’s


Food, Fashion, Rock & Roll at Chambers SF

Dressing up is always fun and this time of year our closets and accessories must be ready to turn it up a notch due to all the jolly holiday gatherings.

Food and fashion for thought- my company recently hosted our annual holiday party at Chambers Eat + Drink in SF and the evening was a great success. Located in the Tenderloin (an up and coming hot spot due to cheap real estate), Chambers has every excuse for a hot outfit. Vinyl record walls, a “Be Amazing” lounge and amazing food and drinks to boot. Outfit of choice for this hot restaurant, American Apparel vinyl leggings and some studded heels.



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Chanel’s India

If there was one video that I could not stop watching this week was Chanel’s India inspired runway show. I never have loved Lagerfeld as much as until now. “People have always responded to difficulty by dressing up in jewels,” Lagerfeld said about the show. As models rocked the runway wearing one of kind headpieces, necklaces and bracelets, there was also some tradition to be seen in the oriental kurtas and jodhpuri like jackets.

On top of the amazing collection and gorgeous jewelry, Lagerfeld demoed the collection elegantly with beautiful table settings including a whiskey train.

Hungry for Feedback

I would like to know what I could feed your weekly fashion cravings with?

Fabulous Friends with Fashion Minds

Jenka, Melissa and Elaine have more than just friendship in common, they share a love for fashion and the same job! Spotted in San Francisco’s bustling Union Square on a crisp fall morning, the three ladies were taking a breather from an average weekend shift at Anthropology. All three ladies wearing different Anthropology pieces and vintage finds spent their quick 30 minute break finding other fabulous fashions in the square with some hot coffee. As for “Fall back” fashion advice they had for me? Tights, lace, some chunky heels and as always- layers for the San Francisco weather.

A Minute With The Chic Spy

I was lucky enough to spend some time with San Francisco’s very own Chic Spy. Here’s to what being one of SF’s best known fashion and lifestyle bloggers is all about… 

First of all you have come a long way, what was your motivation for all the effort and hard work to becoming the brand you are today?

I have always been interested in fashion and journalism. In 2004 I combined the two loves and started the blog Hollywood Digs, a site helping fashion enthusiasts find items they saw on television or in films. My passion for these two industries has been my driving force and has evolved into pop culture as well.

They say that San Francisco isn’t a fashion city, how would you defend this?

I think any city has it’s own culture and style of dress. I think when a city like San Francisco is said to not be a fashion city, it’s because it is being compared to fashion capitals such as New York, London, and Paris who each have a distinct but classic style form. San Francisco has its own fashion niche driven by its love for vintage, sustainability and grass roots culture.

Being that we are not on the “fashion map” what unique aspect have you found in San Francisco in the last couple years that could distinguish us from the “real” fashion cities?

There are many independent designers in San Francisco that use artistic forms in their designs as well as green principles, which I believe sets the city apart from the fashion capitals. It is more about preference than one being better than the other. Someone who is into classic prep styling would be more drawn to New York and European designers for example. Someone with a Boho chic sensibility might want to seek out San Francisco designers and boutiques.

How would you describe your personal style these days?

I have always had an affinity to classic pieces. But lately I have been spicing up my ensembles with bold statement-making pieces like oversized rings, silk printed scarves, and gemstone-embellished flats.

Who in SF would you describe to have the best style?

The Chic Spy of course! Who else could sport an orange trench so chicly?

Speaking of style, your blog has lots of it. Who helped you design it?

I design and maintain the blog myself.

I also love all the interviews on your blog! How do you choose the people you want to interview?

When it comes to designers to feature, I try to find unknown talent with a new perspective, like UK-based jewelry designer Alidra Alić. The celebrity interviews are part of my Movie Brief series, where I review movies and periodically interview the celebrities starring in the films.

Is it hard getting them on the phone or for a meeting?

No, it is usually as simple as scheduling an interview and following through on the agreed upon date.

Have you ever had to trick someone or maneuver your way into an interview?

Never. I believe blogging is a form of journalism and integrity is very important in establishing credibility.

I noticed that you have been covering a lot of movie events recently, what actor or actress have you found to be the most intriguing?

Diane Keaton, Jodie Foster, Antonio Banderas, and Salma Hayek. Since they Hollywood veterans, they have seen how the industry has progressed and that makes for a richer interview.

Best movie you’ve watched at a premiere?


Thank you for your time! Any advice you have for aspiring bloggers out there?

Blog about something you are passionate and knowledgeable about. Your readers will sense the authenticity and it will gain you a loyal following.

Banking on Blogging

Scott Schuman

It is no lie that Scott Schuman is the messiah of the fashion blog world. After The Sartorialist there were many blogs to come, whether they were as good as his or not, blogging became the next online sensation.

Until recently we weren’t sure if people could blog as a full time job. I mean, can you make a living off of blogging for yourself? Apparently so, if you attract as much traffic as The Sartorialist does- and by traffic I mean advertising bait.

Until recently, the  blogger man confessed that his blog allowed him to make in the quarter of a million dollar range saying, “more than a quarter million and less than a half a million,” per year from advertising fees at the magazine level. The Sartorialist is even unafforadable to some large companies such as American Apparel.

So how about all those Schuman wanna-bees, what can they foresee in their blogging future?

15 year old Tavi has also banked on her blog. The Style Rookie which has also received a lot of criticism for being so young and fashion forward has done very well for herself, and I mean beyond the swag. Does Schuman see these young bloggers as possible threats? Absolutely not- her audience is just that of the Jackson Five.

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Bollywood Gone British

Dipti's Collection Courtesy of FashionSchoolDaily.com

Imagine watching a Bollywood movie, where the beautiful actors have traded their multi-colored saris and kurtas for something we see in a old English movie. Not quite old as Gone With The Wind but old enough. Where is the fun in that one may ask? But there is something more demure about it. It may not be this wonderful splash of color on your television screen complimented by a romantic melody that fills your ears while the color of the sari’s also make a dance for your eyes… but it’s still classy, elegant and you do agree that even yourself would consider wearing it today in the modern Western world.

Perhaps Dipti Irla was tired of seeing so much color on her television screen. Perhaps she wanted to show us that India hasn’t completely let go of  its British past. Even though India may still hold some resentment from their past invasion or stolen jewels, they did choose to keep a little British fashion influence in their hearts.

In this collection Dipti is sharp with her cuts, bold with the shoulders and stern with her lines. Could this be an influence of the British Military on the people ? She shows us that she wanted to keep the aesthetic and the metallic accents of a sherwani but wanted to make it for the woman. Dipti transformed the sherwani into sari fabric coats and made it more feminine and more breathable by leaving them completely unbuttoned or halfway unzipped.

The color palette was soft with light golds, blues and cremes that rumor has it-  she has lightened from brighter sari fabrics. While the tops, jacket and dresses were were firmly pressed, the pants in this collection were much more relaxed much like their color. The collars were high and the hemlines were conservative which stayed true to Dipti’s personality from her past pieces that she has done at The Academy of Art.

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The Hollywood Walk of Fashion

No one really likes to admit that they follow celebrities as much as they  really do, but I do. From the red carpet to street style, a lot of celebrity fashion is what strikes people’s fashion interests and creates knowledge.  What is she wearing? Where can I get those flats? I love those jeans! Sound familiar?

We see celebrities on television, websites and in magazines always dressed to impress and sometimes not so much. Regardless if they look like train wrecks walking out of LAX, we still get captured by them even if it’s only because of their designer luggage. Have you noticed Kim Kardashian’s new Goyard travel collection? Or how about Victoria Beckhams’ luggage cart full of Louis Vuitton?

Have you ever tried to re-create a celebrity look? I am fully guilty of it because half of the the clothing and accessories they wear, I cannot afford, but I gloat in pleasure when my friends tell me they believe they saw Sarah Jessica Parker just wear the same outfit.