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Metro Santa Cruz's Real Life Fashion Issue

What the hairdressers are wearing this fall.

Photographs by Kathleen Olson, Interviews by Traci Hukill

The catwalks of Milan are a world away from Santa Cruz. The good news about that is nobody feels pressured to dress up as a 6-foot 3-inch harlequin to walk down to the store for a carton of milk. The bad news about that is flip-flops with cocktail dresses.Luckily for us, there's a Third Way. Any town with a hair salon has its own local style mavens, because hairdressers by definition are a stylish crowd. For our fall fashion issue, we turned to them for a little guidance on what to wear this season. We discovered some trends: a fondness for jeans, some '80s fashion shame and a lot of Pisces and Tauruses. Otherwise, this is a group with highly individual and creative tastes—very appropriate, we think, for our non-Milan-dressing, hate- and nuclear-shunning, flip-flops-with-everything-wearing paradise by the sea.

Nick Saporito Stylist, Heat Salon 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz 831.425.1656
So what are you wearing? That shirt I got at a thrift store for a buck. I do a lot of thrift store, vintage store shopping. The pants are Ben Davis. I got those at Skateworks. I'm wearing these shoes called Winos, they're like a sneaker shoe. I got them at Skateworks too. I don't know how the girls wear high heels, but they do.

Any horrific fashion moments in your past? That I regret, you mean? I don't know that I've regretted any of my fashion moments. ... I had a perm once. But it wasn't horrific to me, it was awesome! If you think about it, at any given moment that's the statement we're trying to make at the time, so it's like, Why did I do that? Because I was lookin' pretty damn good, that's why!

What have you learned from your job? I've learned so much. People have a lot more to offer me than I thought they did. I see so many people and so many personalities day in and day out, and for the most part I can always take a little something from someone that's positive. People I wouldn't expect or wouldn't take the time to learn from.

Do you always talk to clients? I'm not much of a talker. Not at all. I know this because Missy is next to me, and she and her clients are yapping all the time. People kind of assume that they would want me to talk to my clients and keep them entertained, but I think lots of times clients come in to relax; they don't want to talk. They just want to read a magazine or something.

What's your sign? My sign? You mean like Taurus? Taurus.

Missy Schnaps Stylist, Heat Salon, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz 831.425.1656
What are you wearing? All vintage, except the shoes. I'm wearing vintage sailor shorts that I had shortened from pants by my tailor.

You have a tailor? Yeah, she's in Soquel. She's amazing. I do her hair. The blouse is also vintage. That's pretty much how I dress: vintage, flea market, the dollar pile store. The shoes are newish. I got them at Macy's. I go to the flea market pretty much every weekend here, although they're trying to close it down, which is really sad.

What's the fashion item you can't do without right now? Right now I'm really into vintage Frye boots. You can wear them with anything—jeans, a skirt, they look great with the new skinny jeans. And I'm really into the big oversized sweaters that are out right now. Santa Cruz is the epitome of a great layering town, because it's cold in the morning and by mid-afternoon it's blazing. I've also been wearing these sweaters with short sleeves and a cowl neck—it looks funky and put together at the same time.

Worst fashion moment? Well, I graduated from high school in the '80s. I look back at my high school years as an amalgamation of bad, bad fashion. My niece is in high school and I'm like, I don't think she's ever even had an awkward moment! The whole shoulder pads thing—it just didn't need to happen. What young girl needs to look like a linebacker? And I think it's coming back. Eugh.

What's your sign? My sign? Sagittarius.

Bahman Karimzadeh Stylist, Campus Styling, 7562 Soquel Dr., Aptos 831.688.1991
You work at two salons, right? Yes, I work Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Aptos at Campus Styling and Fridays at Salon Samir on South Morrissey.

Tell me about your outfit. What fabric is the shirt? It's silk. I like to wear silk because it just hangs down, it doesn't wrinkle. Plus dark colors are usually nice; when you color a client's hair it doesn't stain.

Where did you get it? I have it from Turkey. I left home [Iran] in 1990 and applied for political asylum in Turkey and then went to Canada in 1992 to study hair—not only how to cut hair but where it comes from, how to make it healthy. How can you look fabulous when your hair is not healthy? I tell my clients, It's about the quality of the hair, which is more bouncy, less dry. Don't shampoo so much. You brush your hair 100 strokes at night and that improves the circulation. Better circulation means healthier sebaceous glands and that means healthier hair.

What is the most important thing you've learned from your job? From 1985 to 1988 I was in the [Iran-Iraq] war. After learning a lot of ugly things in war, I decided to learn about beauty. To know how beautiful beauty can be puts a smile on my face.

What's your sign? [laughing] For 40 years I thought my birthday was Sept. 6, 1965. Then when I turned 40, I called my mother and said, "I'm 40," and she said, "You're not that old." I'm the youngest and they don't celebrate your birthday. I found out that my birthday is sometime in July, so I'm more of a Cancer than a Virgo.

Cynthia Mercado Stylist, Juvin Salon, 2429 Mission St., Santa Cruz 831.458.3246
What are you wearing here? I'm wearing dark Diesel jeans and a green Bebe top. I'm also wearing Luchini shoes. You can get them in San Francisco.

Where do you normally shop? On the corner by Lulu's, what is it—Velvet Underground. I've gotten some really cute tops there. And then there's a store downtown called Luscious. I have some cute shoes from there, and boots.

Do you wear high heels for work? Pretty much all the time, because I'm short.

What's your favorite item of clothing? I would have to say jeans. I have this Industrial Cotton pair that I love. I love the way they fit.

What's your worst fashion moment? I used to love wearing boys' clothes. Like boys' polo shirts, boys' 501 jeans.

Is this by any chance in the '80s? Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

What would your friends be surprised to learn about your fashion habits? I don't think it would surprise anybody that I have a full-length mirror that I have to look into every morning before I leave.

Have you ever stood on the toilet seat so you could check your shoes in the bathroom mirror? Yes! I used to have to stand on the edge of the bathtub!

What's your sign? I'm a Pisces. You can put Pisces Tiger, because my Chinese sign is the tiger. I'm totally a tiger. Tigers always rush in.

Jenna Culver Stylist, Lavish Salon & Spa, 602 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz 831.457.1544
Gorgeous shirt you're wearing. It's fabulous. That shirt was made by the owner of Cameron Marks. It's vintage material. And it has an empire waist, but it's more fitted, less maternity-looking. The jeans are Earnest Sewn from Pacific Trading Company. I like them because they're trim, but they're not skinny jeans. The shoes are Sciapo.

Where do you like to shop? I would say Pacific Trading is my staple. I'm really into supporting the local economy, so I'll shop at Anthropologie sometimes as a treat, but I also really like Scout. And Sock Shop.

What's the item of clothing you can't do without? I just bought a pair of jeans at Pacific Trading that I think are gonna turn into that. Last year I bought a green tweed long winter coat with orange buttons from Boden. I can't wait to wear it. I also have a ring from Judi Wyant that I wear every day.

What about your worst fashion moment? Oh God, I was a teenager in the '80s. I had this really curly perm and satellite bangs, where they stand up, and pink and purple eye shadow.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your job? For me it's—this is my trade secret—you absolutely have to take care of your clients. You have to make them understand that you care about them and you care about their opinion. One complaint I get from new clients is that hairstylists just do what they want. A lot of hairdressers are egomaniacs, but to be an empathetic hairdresser, you have to take the ego out of it.

What's your sign? I'm an Aries.

Amanda Brewer Hall Stylist, Lavish Salon & Spa, 602 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz 831.457.1544
So tell me about your outfit. I'm wearing some Level 99 jeans from Cameron Marks. And I can't tell you the designer of the blouse I'm wearing, but it's from Cameron Marks. When my pockets can say so, I shop there. It's a really cute boutique on the Westside. I'm wearing some Kenzie shoes. They're just like a light-brown and dark-brown heel.

Do you work in heels? I would not work in those, no. I typically wear Danskos or Earth Shoes, something with a low heel, or Earth Shoes have a negative heel, so it actually puts less pressure on my lower back.

Where do you like to shop? Pretty much everywhere downtown. I've gone to Scout; they have cute things in there, or ever so often I buy something at the Gap.

What's your favorite item of clothing right now? I usually just wear jeans and a blouse. I wear a lot of necklaces. Necklaces are my thing, and I'm really into buttons or anything unique on a blouse or a sweater. I'm a button girl. I collect antique buttons.

What's your worst fashion moment? I went through a thrift-shopping phase my freshman year of high school. I called a lot of my shirts Kramer shirts because they were really colorful and buttoned.

What's the most important thing you've learned on the job? Communication. Someone can come in here and they'll have a word for what they want their hair to look like. Like "bevelled." What's bevelled? Oh, I see—layered.

Last question: What's your sign? I'm a Pisces.

Carolyn Smith Stylist/Owner, Tonic Salon & Spa, 765 Cedar St., Santa Cruz 831.426.4311
What are you wearing? The shoes are Stuart Weitzman. I got them in San Francisco—I shop there a lot. The sweater is Michael Kors, the jeans are Rock & Republic, the belt is just like a Dolce & Gabbana with rhinestones. The jacket is an Adrienne Landau trenchcoat. I just got that and I love it. I'm waiting for it to rain.

What's your favorite item of clothing? Like my must-have? It would have to be shoes. I'll buy a really nice pair, like Prada or something, and kind of base the outfit on the shoes.

Name something about your fashion sense that would surprise your friends. Well, you know, a lot of times what I do is I buy a couple of designer things and then I'll pair them with something inexpensive. I like a nice purse, nice shoes and then like a cute T-shirt from Target. I'm from Philadelphia, so one thing my friends say is I can get away with it because I don't care.

What was your worst personal fashion moment? Probably the '80s. I had a perm. You know, just ridiculous things I wore that I thought were so cool and I just look back and it's like, What was I thinking? Black and white stripes—it's embarrassing.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your job? I try to make sure everybody works together as a team. And just give everybody a chance, because everybody does things differently. Just because they do things differently—they can still do it. That's an important thing I've learned.

What's your sign? Taurus.

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