I met Marianne Merza two summers ago at a friend’s cookout, and her style was so outstanding, I looked forward to seeing what she’d wear at every occasion after. I loved learning more about her philosophy of ease when it comes to getting dressed. “Growing up in California, I’ve always had a very casual style, and I’ve kept that here in Brooklyn.” Here are five looks she wore in a week…
“As a critical care nurse, I’m in scrubs all day, so when I’m at home, dresses are my go-to. I love that they can be sexy and sultry and easily dressed up. These earrings are cut in the shape of the Philippine sun. They were made a Filipina artisan and educator named Gretchen Carvajal from the Bay Area, where I’m from. These earrings let me share my pride in being Filipina!”
“Having a routine is important because the days are all blending together. It’s really helpful to be intentional about getting dressed instead of staying in pajamas all day.”
“I love to show a little skin whether it’s a plunging neckline or a bit of shoulder. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve really embraced my brown skin. At a young age, I was told to stay out of the sun so I wouldn’t get dark. Colorism exists in every culture, and in the Filipino culture having European features and fair skin is seen as beautiful. People always say to me, ‘Oh you look like you went to the beach this weekend,’ and I’m like, ‘No, this is from my 10-minute walk! This is the color that I’m supposed to be.'”
“I love taking walks around my neighborhood to little hidden shops and restaurants. I’ve always made an effort to befriend people on my street, wherever I live. My MTA teller’s name is Tyrone and, before COVID, he would always give me a hug when I got off the subway at the end of the day.”
“This top is my favorite and I’ve had it forever. This is the look I wear the most. I like to change the boxy silhouette with a half tuck or front knot. I also like to have basics that can be easily layered and then I add a piece of jewelry or a belt to make them special.”
“Lately I’ve been exploring more sustainable clothing options, and I stumbled upon Rue Saint Paul earlier this year. Sustainable clothing can be expensive because you’re paying fair wages and choosing materials that are environmentally friendly, as well as safe working conditions for employees. But they make sustainability more accessible by offering clothing rentals and a pre-loved collection.”
“In the past, I’ve kept pieces in my closet, holding out for the right occasion, but since this year has been so grueling, I’ve been trying to create special moments for myself. This dress is something I’d now wear on a walk around my neighborhood. It’s such a special dress, but what am I waiting for? I’m going to wear it to Trader Joe’s!”
Thank you, Marianne!
(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)
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