True colors | Street View | Chicago Reader

True colors 

A Lula Cafe hostess chooses bright hues to cope with the pandemic blues.

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Photo by Isa Giallorenzo

"I always, always, always wear a mask! I have three of the same pattern," says Zoe Hendrix Johnson.

She paired her leopard-print face mask with a chartreuse duster coat, sneakers, a flowy skirt, and a cropped polka-dot shirt: "I think that was truly the first day [during the pandemic] that I set my intention on building an outfit," she explained via e-mail. "And strangely enough, as I was leaving my house, I checked my mail and my masks had been delivered! So I quickly put one on and then suddenly realized that it was incredibly cohesive with my outfit. It was cosmic! I really do love natural hues like brown and green, and those usually end up coordinating quite well with my mask."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ISA GIALLORENZO
  • Photo by Isa Giallorenzo

Made by Los Angeles Apparel, her "functional yet interesting" leopard-print mask helped create a striking mix. Inspired by her mom, who has "a funky sense of style," the 22-year-old has become more adventurous over the years: "I used to have this fear of standing out and constantly thinking about the visual perception of myself through the eyes of strangers. But now I embrace it." She describes her aesthetic as "color-centric" and sees fashion as "the narrative of where you have been, where you want to go, of who you want to be."

Currently taking a compulsory break from her job as a hostess at Lula Cafe, Johnson encourages people to just "go for it" during this pandemic. "Wear whatever you feel suits you and go for vibrant colors. Oftentimes life feels a bit dull (especially now), but work against it by wearing colors that truly communicate to the outside world how you feel on the inside. A touch of vibrancy won’t hurt anyone."   v

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