What we can learn from non-tanchis: Museums and Fashion Part 2

Today’s post features non-tanchis, but I promise there is something valuable from the featured ladies of Balboa Park Museums in this post. Starting my street-style fashion photography album of museum admin fashion, these are 3 featured museologist fashionistas photographed for their museum admin eclectic style.

The backdrops are highlights from Balboa Park in San Diego that played host to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It currently houses 15 museums in Spanish-Renaissance style, as well as restaurants, a world famous zoo, beautiful gardens, hiking, and biking trails. It’s a hidden gem and one my favorite places in the world. The best feature of Balboa Park is the design of the pedestrian walkway. Initially Balboa Park was built to be “the scene to be seen at.”

Panama Pacific Exposition Balboa Park

Image from guidodeiro.com

Today, its legacy remains. Taking walks on my lunch breaks, it’s a common sight to see Balboa Park being used as a popular photography spot. I often see wedding, quinceañera, and even fashion shoots as spotted here.

Balboa Park

Although the dress has changed, the park’s aesthetic is timeless and highly sought after to be “in the scene.”

Museum admin are featured in this post because of their practice of “curating their daily dress” which maintains an edgy, eclectic style. This method is the key for successfully curating the closet for the tanchi. It is a hopeful time for tanchis with designers working to bring petite fashion to the market. The 16th Bar, UK based Jeetly Petite, the Petite Shop, and larger retailers such as Banana Republic Petites and Topshop Petites are providing more options for the tanchi, but it is still a long way before we can just walk into stores and make quick purchase, eliminate our team of befriended seamstresses and stylists , and dress with ease. In the meantime, the curation practice is essential art for a tanchi to become skillful and to have fun while doing it.

This is Sophia who currently works at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA). She is standing in front of the Botanical Building with the Lily Pond which is one of the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park. Sophia, like every museum admin I interview about their style, considers price as an important component when shopping (a reflection of the salaries we make). Our appreciation for unique one of kind pieces is very high.

Balboa Park Botanical Gardens

After spending some time in Spain, Sophia scored her beautiful scarf from a street vendor. Her cardigan and skirt came from a J.Crew sale and as well as her Oxfords (regular price). She snagged her black top from United Colors of Benetton in Russia, and her tights from the Gap.

Next is Lucera who currently works at the Mingei International Museum pictured in front of a Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture piece called “Nikigator.”

Niki de Saint Phalle

Originally from Los Angeles, Lucera shops in its array of local unique shops supporting local artists and in San Diego. Lucera finds that in art institutions there is more freedom to have fun with the way you dress – still needs to be professional, but a great place to showcase, for one example, jewelry from museum gift stores (more about that to come in a future post). Lucera’s fabulous statement necklace was purchased at the Mingei International Museum gift store and her earrings from a local South Park shop. Her boots are from Nordstrom Rack, her overcoat from an upscale L.A thrift store, the top is from H&M where she typically purchases her basics as well as Forever 21 and Target. Lucera not only “curates” her outfits from multiple sources but sees the practice as an art form. Working for a museum with a collection of “popular arts,” that is “art of the people,” she teaches students that the outfits we wear are art as well. Lucera teaches that art and life are intertwined and dressing entails more than one medium.

My last feature is Terri from the San Diego History Center, photographed on the pedestrian walkway of the park.

Steam punk style.

She currently manages the store at the History Center and has sold jewelry pieces she designed there as well. Terri’s style is reminiscent of “steam punk” – a combination of high end, Victorian fashion with industrial hardware motifs from the steam engine era, and the “punk” aspect brings it into the modern age. Terri’s vest came from a thrift store which she enhanced by sewing on her own bronze-like buttons. Her skirt is also from the thrift store, her top from JCPenny, boots from Born, blazer was a gift, gloves and jewelry were made by Terri herself, and the scarf from a bookstore in Seaport Village. Lastly, her ring is from her grandmother’s collection.

steam punk accessoriessteam punk accessories

Banana Republic, Bebe, and Topshop do petites well, but it can’t be all for a tanchi. It gets old quickly and like my friend, Jennifer, commented once about Forever 21 – the only problem is everyone has it. There has to be more for a tanchi who wants to dress her body and do it in a stylish way. What these ladies have shown is that one of kind, eclectic, edgy, professional attire can be accomplished – think like a museum and act like a runway.


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