It's easy to nerd out with model and blogger Shenal Hooks. The south Phoenix native has an eye for style and a sewing machine to boot. With it, she creates a mix of boldly patterned pieces for everyday wear and cosplay outfits inspired by her favorite characters.
When she's not showing off her latest work in front of the camera or at Phoenix Comicon, Hooks is documenting her adventures in DIY fashion on her blog, Lip Gloss and Thread.
The site launched back in 2013 and covers everything from sewing how-tos to adventures in cosplay, including her past costume works as Yoruichi Shihoin from the anime series Bleach, Akasha from Queen of the Damned, and a zombie bride.
Jackalope Ranch caught up with Hooks to discuss her favorite stores in town, her five staple pieces, and where she turns for inspiration.
Where do you get your fashion inspiration? When I'm making something, I like to pull inspiration from all over the place: the past, local artists, or runway. Lately I've really been inspired in the fashion detailing and couture designs by Karl Lagerfeld featured in the Spring Collection for Chanel.
Who are some of you fashion icons? My all-time and forever favorite fashion icon is singer and actress Aaliyah. I still love, till this day, her and her tomboy street style. Another fashion icon of mine is singer Solange Knowles. Her all natural look and pattern and print mixing is inspiring.
Where do you usually shop? If I'm not making myself something to wear, then I'm kind of all over the place with my shopping. I love shopping online at Nasty Gal when items are on sale. I shop the local thrift and Goodwill stores. I like to visit the clothing boutiques in downtown Phoenix to find interesting and unique pieces. Some of my favorite boutiques are Nostra Style House, Annie Boomer Vintage, and Vintage by Misty.
What was the last item of clothing you bought? The last item of clothing I bought was a vintage two piece Hawaiian top and short set that I found at Goodwill on their 50-percent-off day. It was only $5, and I love it!
What is your favorite part about making cosplay outfits? My favorite part of making cosplay outfits is being able to transform myself into characters from comics or movies and wearing my creations at Cons, where there are others who appreciate all the hard work it took to create the look. I started off first just making my own Halloween costumes. It was so much fun that I just couldn't wait once a year to let my creative energy out.
Name five things every woman should have in her closet. I think it's a good idea to have some staple pieces in your closet that are versatile.
1. A pair of jeans that you feel amazing wearing that can be dressed up with a cute blouse and heals or worn with a tee shirt and tennis shoes.
2. Speaking of T-shirt, having a cool graphic tee is great too. It can be paired with some cut off shorts or a midi pencil skirt.
3. Also, get some comfortable and stylish tennis [shoes] that can go with jeans, shorts, dresses, skirts.
4. A nice tailored blazer is a cool essential piece that I love to wear. You can dress it up for work or dress it down on the weekend with a tee shirt and jeans.
5. And lastly, something to cover up just in case it gets cold. In the winter I was rocking my black and white flannel but now that it's getting hot I like to wrap it around my waist. It ties an outfit together and I'm able to keep it with me just in case it gets a little chilly somewhere.
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What's a trend you can't stand? Even though I may not understand a trend, I won't hate on anyones' personal style. I respect however anyone wants to reflect their inner beauty.
Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. One that comes to mind is a time when my mom took my little sister and I school shopping at one of the local Goodwill stores. We were about 6 and 11 years old, and I remember my mom having us try on matching denim jackets and pants outfits. And I think the jackets had rhinestones on them.
What's your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix? Don't be afraid to try something new and have fun with it!