BOOK TOUR GUEST POST: So L.A. by Bridget Hoida
Today I am featuring the super stylish novel, So L.A. by Bridget Hoida!
I have some cool stuff to share, including a guest post by Bridget and some of her thoughts on fashion!
Magdalena de la Cruz breezed through Berkeley and built an empire selling designer water. She’d never felt awkward or unattractive… until she moved to Los Angeles. In L.A., where “everything smells like acetone and Errol Flynn,” Magdalena attempts to reinvent herself as a geographically appropriate bombshell—with rhinestones, silicone and gin—as she seeks an escape from her unraveling marriage and the traumatic death of her younger brother, Junah. Magdalena’s Los Angeles is glitzy and glamorous but also a landscape of the absurd. Her languidly lyrical voice provides a travel guide for a city of make-believe, where even Hollywood insiders feel left out.
Like a lane change on the 405 freeway during rush hour, Bridget Hoida skillfully navigates the impossible. In So L.A.Hoida offers both a satirical and sympathetic portrait of contemporary Los Angeles through the penetrating prose of her female protagonist. Evoking a dynamic and materialist landscape, So L.A. introduces readers to the unforgettable voice of an extremely talented new writer.
I’m thrilled Sweet Southern Home invited me over to discuss L.A. style with you! Although I now consider myself a Southern California girl, I haven’t always been one. In fact, I moved to Los Angeles from Berkeley in 2001 and the transition was extremely difficult for me. I suppose, in part, that’s how Magdalena, the protagonist of novel, So L.A. was “born.” Perhaps I was unconsciously embodying a B-movie cliché, but I really did take my first steps on the streets of Los Angeles in a pair of Birkenstocks and a tie-dyed sundress. I wasn’t tan, I didn’t have a designer purse, and even kitten heels made my ankles wobble. It took a good three years before I felt comfortable wearing a bikini, even to the beach, but I was surrounded by these insanely beautiful women who seemed to have been raised in string bikinis and had no qualms wearing them grocery shopping, bicycling or even to school.
Obviously, in order to capture L.A. (and the beautiful woman who parade across the pages of So L.A.) I had to do a lot of research and throwing myself into the L.A. fashion scene was fabulous fun! In fact, when dressing Magdalena, and the various other women (and men) who orbit her literary world, I often felt like I was shopping my imaginary dream closet and indulging in sensational designer items that I could never afford; living vicariously, if you will, by styling my fictional characters as through they were paper dolls.
In the last twelve years, living in Southern California has taught me a great deal about fashion, and fashion faux pas alike. L.A. is extremely street savvy and it is also extremely glamorous. When Magdalena is beginning her “transformation” from a central valley farm girl to a southland starlet, her sister-in-law Cheri gives her this advice: “As long as you have a good purse, a big enough ring and a tight pair of jeans you can get away with anything in Los Angeles.”
Although my novel is a satirical portrait of L.A. the above statement, is excellent advice for anyone looking to blend into the L.A. scene. In Los Angeles, styles shifts almost as fast as celebrity status and although it may seem like “anything goes” there are a few tried and true staples that must be incorporated into the L.A. woman’s wardrobe.
- Jeans. Specifically, a tight pair of tailored Hudson jeans. Seriously. Although I was previously under the impression that tailors were exclusively for the hems of ball gowns and old men’s suits, living in L.A. has taught me that everything can (and usually should) be tailored. Try the Blue Jeans Bar in Santa Monica where you can sit on a bar stool and literally order up jeans (as if they were martinis) from the counter by fit, wash, and cut.
- Oversized sunglasses. Chanel is always classic, but as long as they are bigger than most of your face they’ll do. I know women who not only have multiple frames, you know, to match the wash of their denim jeans, but also several tints to their lenses, for the differing qualities of light.
- A pair, or six, of truly fabulous shoes. This season it’s about the bootie, and a fun pair of statement flats, although the girls of So L.A. will tell you, you can never go wrong withYves Saint Laurent platform pumps (the ones with the metallic mirror heel are almost to fabulous to mention).
- A good purse. Most of the women in So L.A. have both a Louis Vuitton tote (for the small dog) & the Chloe bag (for their lip-gloss, keys to pass off to the valet, and American Express black card). If you’re feeling bold I suggest the mustard, if you a bit more reserve, go for deep blue or rock.
- Jewelry by David Yurman: chunky bangles, oversized rings… even Angelina Jolie is flaunting his stuff.
- An oversized watch. Which always makes me giggle because any time I ask a person for the time they look to their phone and not their wrist… but even still, the white Chanel Gem Set watch is a must have in L.A. today (the diamond is classic, but have you seen the sapphire?)
- Whey Protein Shakes. Although the skinny soy half-caf iced venti latte can still be seen in most parts of town, the straw of choice is sipping a whey protein shake.
- The iAccessories, as in iPad2 and iPhone Siri with headset. (And don’t forget to download a copy of So L.A. onto your iPad, Nook or Kindle!)
Feeling overwhelmed and underpaid? Join the club. If you’re like me, you’re most likely still window-shopping most of this list, but don’t worry. If L.A. has taught me anything it’s that above all you must fake it until you make it. Scour consignment shops, rent your designer purse online, go to Venice and buy a knockoff. But above all be fabulous in every way you can.
1. You’re going out to dinner with your significant other. Little black dress or a pop of color?
Bridget Hoida lives and writes in Southern California. In past lives she was a librarian, a DJ, a high school teacher and a barista. In this life she experiments with poetry and fiction and has taught writing at UC Irvine, the University of Southern California, and Saddleback College. Bridget is the recipient of an Anna Bing Arnold Fellowship and the Edward Moses prize for fiction. She was a finalist in the Joseph Henry Jackson/San Francisco Intersection for the Arts Award for a first novel and the William Faulkner Pirate’s Alley first novel contest. Her short stories have appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, Mary, and Faultline Journal, among others, and she was a finalist for the Iowa Review Fiction Prize and in the Glimmer Train New Writer’s Short Story Contest. Her poetry has earned her recognition as an Academy of American Poets Prize finalist and she was a Future Professoriate Scholar at USC. She has a BA from UC Berkeley, MA in fiction from San Francisco State University, and a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California.
Visit Bridget’s website for more info at Bridgethoida.com.