The Tribal, 70s, Palm Springs Fantasy Land That is Tova Kaye

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Obsessed with hand-beading, embroidery, and tribal jewelry, and convinced that she was Queen Nefertiti in another life, Tova Kaye, the subject of our latest Closet, adheres to a sign that she was once saw in 80s LA — DON’T BLEND IN. As Tova says, “If I feel that I’m blending in, I know that I’m giving into something and not being myself.” Indeed, when it comes to conforming, the Palm Springs native does anything but. At home during the Oscars, you will find her in one of her staples — a black lace dress and velvet cape — an ensemble that she would wear on the red carpet with “some strange hat, gloves, and no fancy makeup.” If the former wardrobe stylist for film could stick to one era for the rest of her life, it would be the 70s, which Tova embodies with long hair parted down the middle, lots of denim and fringe, and sunny, floral platform wedges. A Buddhist who learned to let go of her “overwhelming” vintage collection through selling and sharing, Tova is equally committed to letting go of society’s aversion to aging naturally: “With Botox, it’s so easy to look youthful. But I’d rather see some lines than remain frozen.”

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Whether it was showing up to school with turquoise rings on every finger, getting sent home for arriving to her first day of work on a movie set “dressed to the tens in really high shoes,” or, later on, getting high with one of the directors, Tova’s feisty spirit was present from the get-go. But the style rebel who wore her brothers’ pants to school in ’69 was no match for the toxic beauty norms that trap even the most independent of women. From feeling like her legs were too fat at the age of nine to compulsively going to the gym to get into Brooke Shields/Christy Turlington shape, Tova speaks with a wealth of wisdom about the “slow suicide” of trying to fit into the fashion industry’s mold: “It’s a myth. You’re so busy trying to control your image even though it’s done nothing for you. You haven’t made more money or found the better guy. All you’ve done is entered a prison that only you can get out of.”

Draped in African wedding necklaces and headdresses, and as many gems as will fit on her hands, Tova uses her guts and singularity to steer clear of the body image jail. Instead of compulsively not feeling good enough, she works hard to be as happy as the rainbow dress that she bought for her 40th birthday as an homage to her rainbow-loving grandma: “It sounds cliche, but you just have to wake up and tell yourself that you want to make today a good day and not obsess over how you look. You have to tell yourself that the distortions you see in the mirror are not the truth.”

xo,
Elisa & Lily

Check out Tova’s Esty shop, Owl Vintage
Follow her on Instagram: @tova_k
Tova’s video was edited by Paul O’Brochta

  • Rita

    What’s there not to LOVE about this? Great video!

  • Safika Erselcuk

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I met Tova not quite a year ago, and feel that we are kindred spirits. The video brought tears to my eyes. We are only here in this body for a very short time and to make the most out of every day and not obsess about the unimportant things is a continuous challenge. Thank you for highlighting a woman with such depth and beauty, from the inside out.

  • tziporah

    Love, love, love this woman. What an original. What a beauty! What a work of art! Gorgeous!

  • http://meganmcisaac.com/ megan kathleen mcisaac

    Oh my goodness what a dream.

  • Jackie Barlow

    What a surprise.

  • beverly

    Wow oh Wow Miss Tova. Loved seeing you, your vibrant and beautiful spirit, and learning even
    more about you and the clothes/jewelry in your closet!!! What a special woman who is comfortable in her philosophy of living life to her own drum beat. Love you, beverly

  • Neil Davies

    Thank you…Xx

  • Santa Barbara

    The mystery of one’s soul is present in each day, Tova is living proof! Her radiant beauty spills over through the color, shape and texture of her personal walk, awakening something in all of us. Her style is a magnificent blessing, meant to give breath and inspire one’s heart!

  • Peter

    That a way – Tova Kaye! Enjoyed seeing and hearing you tell your style story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Geni Thomas

    Finally had the chance to listen to this Tova!!! Absolutely loved it. You’re eloquent and the entire piece is so well done.

  • judy

    tova, you are so beautiful and your collection of jewelry and clothing is just fabulous. Thank you for sharing your philosophy with all of us………..be who you are! Judy

  • TovaK

    I just want to thank every one of you for your comments and compliments, but mostly for watching the video and relating in your own way to the journey of becoming your true self when forces try hard to manipulate you to conform. Much love, Tova xx

  • kareyann

    J’adore Tova! Loved it, loved the message, fearlessness is deeply inspiring!

  • Jillian

    One of my favorite videos on this website! Such a beautiful and elegant woman. I loved the pimple dinner date story. I would love love love to see more of Tova.

  • Sara

    Was so enjoying Tova’s style and then she throws a pearler. A reminder to face fears. Thanks SLU for finding & sharing these inspiring people.

  • Vix Brearley

    Tova, I think I love you! x

  • Lia Chavez

    What a stunner

  • Anna

    My mother & I enjoyed this piece about Tova so much, what a beautiful woman, inside & out- and the filming & documenting of her fabulous wardrobe was wonderful. I’m 28 yrs old, & have had issues with my weight & looks for so long, but hearing such an amazing woman tell me she has suffered thru the same issues, I was in tears. She made a career for herself & grew so strong in who she is as a woman, it gives me such hope. I feel empowered, silly as it sounds, I feel hopeful & confident in myself watching these wonderful videos, & this is my first time on this site, so I have so much exploring to do. Thank you so much Tova, your strength, your beauty & grace, bravo- to know even just a glimpse of you is to know love & peace. Thank you.

  • Kerry Clarkson

    Amazing!

  • TovaK

    Thank you so much Anna. I’m thrilled that it spoke to you! Keep feeling your power and showing up! And remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about self love exactly as we are. ❤️

  • Audrey Cook

    Tova, I would just like to say that your fashion sense is brave and fearless! You represent what you love and it shows! Audrey Cook