Profiles of Childhood: Jessica Asfar, Fashion Student and Sitter, New York, NY

Sewing a dress

Our childhoods shape us and prepare us, not only for our own lives, but for the joys and values we’ll pass on to others. 

As told to Lela Nargi

My parents first started letting me come into the city from the suburbs of Red Bank, NJ, when I was about 16 years old. I’d already known I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was 9 years old—it was either that, or a lawyer, or a dolphin trainer!

But in 2011, I saw the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute. That was so breathtaking and beautiful and weird, it really got my mind going, especially this gold coat made of feathers. I’d already taken some classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in high school, and life drawing classes, which got me interested in the science of the body. And in 2012, I moved into the city to study fashion.

On the right, the inspirational Alexander McQueen feathered coat


The only other person in my family who can sew is my aunt—she helped me make my prom dress. And my grandfather was a tailor, although I never got to meet him, but I guess he’s where I get my talent from. Originally, I wanted to go into costume design but as time went on I realized intimates was the field that interested me the most. Intimates are hard. There are so many things a bra is supposed to do; you have to keep all the utility elements while still making a thing you want to wear. That’s challenging, but fit is the biggest struggle. Eventually I want to have my own company—I wouldn’t mind being the next Agent Provocateur! And I’d like to do lines that cover a bigger spectrum, with more options for women of different sizes. At the moment, though, I’m a sophomore at FIT taking about nine classes a semester, and I also intern at an international wholesale company that specializes in pajamas and intimates.

I started babysitting when I was 11, for my neighbors who had 4 kids: twin 1-year-olds, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old. It was insanity, but it was the best crash course I could imagine. I’ve been babysitting ever since. I started sitting for UrbanSitter when I moved into the city. I love it, and I always need money, because living in New York is so expensive. Plus, being away from my family, I get to be with other people’s families, which is really nice; it gets lonely being in the city by yourself.

Fashion has taught me a lot about patience. If you work too fast you make mistakes and then have to do it 10 times instead of once or twice. I’ve learned to slow down and think about what I’m doing, which also helps me in babysitting. Working with children, you have to take a step back and hear what they’re saying to you with their words or their actions. You have to be patient to grasp what they’re telling you.

Photograph of Jess by Roy Beeson

Getting Creative with Holiday Outfits (for Mom)

Whether you are going to a formal office holiday party or the neighborhood cookie exchange, you want to look your best this holiday season. And while it’s fun to treat yourself to something new, your very own closet or a consignment shop probably has some surprisingly-wearable items. Here are a few ideas, or visit our One Hot Mama Pinterest Board for tons more holiday inspiration!
Visit our Pinterest board for more One Hot Mama fashion inspiration!

Fancy pants: If you need a ball gown or fancy dress, your best bet is to shop the consignment stores or your friends’ closets. It’s not worth it to buy a $500 dress for one night (unless you can afford to and then, by all means, you should!). In most cities and even some suburbs, there are consignment stores that stock almost-new, brand-name dresses. For reasons stated above, they are usually in fabulous condition. Friends who have worked or still work for big law or finance firms will usually have a few good choices on hand as well.

Evening with friends: Buy new jewelry or a pretty scarf and wear something you already own. Remember that basic black dress you wore to a wedding six years ago? Well, assuming it still fits, it’s probably only boring to you. Others will see it as new and exciting, especially when paired with bold jewelry or a fun wrap. Costume jewelry is all the rage right now, and you can go high-end (like Kate Spade or Nordstrom brand) or you can march into H&M or Forever 21 and get yourself a little bauble that amps up your look ten fold. Also available are super-soft cashmere or wool wraps in sumptuous colors (why not try pink or chartreuse?) or  simple black or champagne with some sequins or sparkle to it. Your basic black is suddenly anything but.

Cookie exchange or children’s school party: This is a great opportunity to wear your favorite winter basics. Nice cords and a sweater can be enhanced greatly by a pair of suede booties or a leopard print skinny belt. If you want to embrace the season, do it with color (red or green sweater) or appropriate jewelry (a red bangle bracelet is cute. Or a Christmas pin, but stop at one. More than that and Grandma Judy might be the only fan). Also, a Santa hat is fun and always appreciated by the under-12 crowd.

The Nutcracker or Symphony: Pair something indulgent with something basic. Try a crisp white blouse with a black bubble skirt and heels. Add a chunky-jeweled necklace and you could be going to the ball or brunch. Also, a beautiful silk blouse in a jewel tone (pick one that compliments your skin tone), stands on its own with plain pants., i.e. dark trouser jeans or black slacks.

Remember, it’s not only the outfit that makes you shine during this crazy, festive, fabulous season; it’s the smile on your face and the bounce in your step.

Sure to add a bounce to your step: Booking a babysitter for your night out! UrbanSitter makes it fast and easy. so log on today and book a sitter in minutes!