July 19, 2013—Fashion consultant Jackie Walker and fashion writer Pamela Dittmer McKuen are on a mission to help young girls ditch their fashion doubts, love what they wear and accept who they are. In their new book, EXPRESSIONISTA: HOW TO EXPRESS YOUR TRUE SELF THROUGH (AND DESPITE) FASHION (Beyond Words/Aladdin; September 3, 2013; $16.99), Walker and McKuen incorporate self-help techniques into the ever-present dilemma of fashion, giving girls the inspiration to embrace their style and express their authenticity.

Through fun quizzes, insider tips and relatable case studies, the authors help girls, ages 8-12, how to:

  • Dress for her body type
  • Develop confidence in her fashion choices
  • Track fashion trends
  • Shop on a budget
  • Organize her fashionable closet

 EXPRESSIONISTA teaches readers to approach fashion without fear, with the support from tween-favorite superstars:

“It’s all about finding your own beauty, not wishing you looked like someone else.”—Zooey Deschanel

“Today is another day for your inner goddess to step out and shine.”—Jennifer Lopez


About the Authors

Jackie Walker is a longtime fashion consultant and coauthor of I Don’t Have a Thing To Wear, which helps women develop a healthy relationship with their clothes. Coined the “Dr. of Closetology”, she has spoken to groups such as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom.

Pamela Dittmer McKuen is a full-time feature writer specializing in homes, design, fashion, travel and architecture. She writes for myriad publications including the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Life, a magazine that appears in regional editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.



How to Express Your True Self Through (and Despite) Fashion

By Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen

Beyond Words/Aladdin

September 3, 2013


HC ISBN: 978-1-58270-429-6

PB ISBN: 978-1-58270-248-9

Expressionista authors Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen at a Mother-Daughter Breakfast and Book-Signing, Little Traveler in Geneva, Illinois

Expressionista authors Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen at a Mother-Daughter Breakfast and Book-Signing, Little Traveler in Geneva, Illinois




Expressionista, the Book

January 1, 2014




Good-by Fashionista, Hello Expressionista: My partner Jackie Walker and I are on a mission to help young girls ditch their fashion doubts, love what they wear and accept who they are.

Our new book, “Expressionista: How to Express Your True Self Through (and Despite) Fashion” (Simon & Schuster), incorporates self-help techniques into the ever-present dilemma of fashion, giving girls the inspiration to embrace their style and express their authenticity.

Scattered throughout the 200 pages are fun quizzes, insider tips, case histories and journaling prompts. Girls ages 8-12 learn to how to identify their unique Fashion Personas, build confidence in their fashion choices, shop on a budget, organize their closets and ward off fashion bullies.

Why this book and this audience? A decade ago Jackie, a motivation speaker on the subject of esteem dressing, wrote a similar book for adult women, “I Don’t Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet (Simon & Schuster). As she toured the country promoting that book, she saw many moms were buying a second copy because their daughters kept the first one for themselves!

She also learned that women’s fashion insecurities almost always stem from childhood! We all have stories of classmates or family members who criticized something about our appearance, and those criticisms sting for a lifetime. 

Jackie and I met up, and we decided to tailor the message of personal expression through clothing to young girls, before those barbs and criticisms and doubts can take hold. Hence, the “Expressionista” book.

Fashionistas dress to impress other people and make themselves noticed in a crowd. Expressionistas know their true inner selves, and they use clothing to tell the world who they are. Our goal is for every girl and woman to become an Expressionista.

How to order: Your local bookstore or any online purveyor. Here is a link to the Expressionista page on

And here is a link to Jackie Walker’s website:

My Office Assistant

My Office Assistant

I knew I could write. The problem was, no one else did.

I’d been writing since I was four years old. “Dear Mommy,” I crayoned. “I love you. Do you love me?” My first query letter.

After college, I wanted more than familial correspondence. I wanted to write for the Chicago Tribune. I sent off my resume and soon received a reply that thanked me for my interest but pointed out I had little journalism experience.

No experience? I was an English Literature major. I was the editor of the campus newspaper at Elmhurst College. I had been a high school correspondent for my hometown press. My weekly column, the Dragonland Review, covered basketball scores, homecoming queens, canned food drives and other goings-on of interest to those whose revered mascot was a winged reptile.  That’s experience, I thought.

The job I did land was in the public relations department of a large toiletries company. Mostly I wrote letters of apology to customers who had bought aerosol cans of hairspray that clogged and sputtered. On the side, I modeled wedding gowns at bridal fairs and taught make-up classes for a modeling school.

A year later I updated my resume for the Chicago Tribune and received another copy of the previous rejection letter.

A department store chain, however, was impressed by my background in haute hairspray and hired me as a stylist. I auditioned teen models and produced fashion shows in the mall.

Another year passed, and again the Chicago Tribune turned me down. I still hadn’t written anything, by the company’s definition of “anything.”

I continued modeling and teaching. I produced a fashion show for Bonwit Teller, and I created a feature spread that paired luxury cars and fur coats for a suburban lifestyle magazine. I became a creative consultant for a chain of edgy boutiques. My name appeared in a couple of industry publications, and my wardrobe was quite chi-chi. That’s because more than once my rent money was diverted to a designer dress or boots.

One morning a friendly colleague, who was the promotions director for a regional shopping center, called to chat. An editor at the Chicago Tribune had asked her to write a weekly column about suburban fashion events. But she was too busy, she said, and suggested the editor call me instead. I was thrilled.

The editor called and gave me the first of many assignments: 600 words on fashion trends for men. I didn’t need writing experience any more–I had become an expert, and that was just as good.

Walking the Vegan Walk

April 12, 2010

“Pig” by Mink Shoes

An animal-friendly lifestyle is uncomplicated when it comes to food, cosmetics, cleansers and clothing. The challenge has been finding shoes that bear any degree of fashionability. Sneakers, sure, and flip-flops galore. But nary a club-worthy stiletto or corporate pump. The notion that quality footwear must be leather is long-held. But that’s changing. Vegan shoe offerings have greatly expanded, without harming so much as a flea.

In other words, the vegan walk is catching up with the vegan talk.

Rebecca Mink is a Beverly Hills celebrity stylist turned vegan shoe designer and manufacturer. She became a vegetarian at a tender age after a grade school classmate told her hotdogs are made from dogs. Later she went vegan and influenced several family members to do likewise. Troubled by the disparity between her personal values and retail realities, she founded Mink Shoes in 2000. The road was a rocky one. She traveled to Italy, where 16 cobblers rejected her quest for beautiful cruelty-free footwear until the Marco Gambassi family agreed to apply generations of artistry to her ideas. After she had samples to exhibit at shoe shows, buyers and retailers ignored her. Today they are seeking her out.

“The green market has arrived, and we are expanding like crazy,” she says.

The Mink Shoes collection includes pumps, spikes, platforms and flatties, all assembled by hand. Animal skins and pelts are verboten. Rebecca even developed a hardy glue that uses no animal byproducts. She designs with a sensual sophistication and an occasional touch of whimsy. Her “Pig” model, for example, is a hot-pink strappy stiletto sporting dime-sized crystals.

Other leading vegan shoe entrepreneurs are designers Elizabeth Olsen of Olsenhaus and Stella McCartney. Erica and Sarah Kubersky, sisters and Moo Shoes retailers in Manhattan, created a line called Novacas, which translates to “no cow” in Spanish. Expect to see more lines in the near future.

It’s worth noting that animal-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean earth-friendly. Many of the manmade leathers used in vegan shoes are oil derivatives. Some insiders suggest that vintage is a viable option, but you must be careful. Kate Shifrin is a Chicago stylist whose company, “Come Flea With Me,” leads expeditions to vintage and flea markets around the world. She says she frequently encounters footwear crafted from cheetah and other exotic furs. To me, that’s creepy. I shudder even at faux fur, which I fear is a gateway fashion to the real thing.

I am not a vegan. I’m just a very picky eater. I won’t eat any food with fat, bones or gristle. I enjoy an occasional filet mignon or tuna fish sandwich, but I feel a little guilty about it. I’m not sure which side of the menu I’ll eventually end up on, but I’ll never give up cute shoes.

Postscript: Mink Shoes are now available at