What I wish I’d known about style vs fashion years ago: The simple answer is this: Style is something that I’d never get from a Gap/JCrew/Forever 21 ad. Fashion can sometimes be like jumping on neon pink train just because it’s loud and there and everyone else is.
It took me a long time to realize the difference between style and fashion, to not buy something just because it was a. cheap/on sale or b. I’d seen someone cool wearing it. Soooo, this post kicks off a series of Q&As with women and their relationship to style.
My first real introduction to this idea of style came freshman year of college. I met a gal who just had it, and it wasn’t like everyone else. She could put together the craziest combinations of things and look totally cool.
First up: Keira—mom, Pilates instructor, dance choreographer, and a foodie (I have benefited from this one). She sees every experience through creative eyes. Each meal is an opportunity to combine new flavors, shapes, colors, and textures. Every outfit is an opportunity for self expression, a chance to take risks, make a statement, or just stand out.
On what shaped her personal style…
Growing up as a navy brat, I moved so frequently and styles varied from city to city, state to state, country to country. Living in Hawaii at the age of ten it was perfectly normal to wear a floral mumu to school and feel "really cool!" Then in California a couple years later, biker shorts, high bangs, and puffy scrunched socks were all the rage. Next in London, grunge and flannel were the trend. Followed by moving to Virginia, where simple Gap looks were the norm. So, as I traversed through these multiple styles and locations, I developed my own personal style that transcended time and place for the most part.
On what we learn about style from mothers…
My mother has always been a "sharp dresser" and her morning make-up and hair routine is a solid hour long process. My mom has the ability to match a peach colored ensemble with the exact tone of peach shoes, jewelry, and other accessories. Many a time I have heard her say "which lavender shoes should I wear with this outfit?" I have thought to myself "who even has more than one pair of lavender shoes?!?!" My mom! Some of this has influenced my style.
Starting around age 13, two things also started to happen: I could fit into my mother's old clothes that she'd saved from her college days, and I started shopping at thrift stores. I loved it when my mom pulled out a funky old pink and orange paisley silk shirt of hers and said, you should hold onto this, you never know when you're going to need this for a 70's dress up party! If you've read the "Konmari" method of cleaning and organizing, you know that this too can be a bit burdensome, trying to hold onto all the hand me downs that are filled with memories of someone's life. But it did make me appreciate "the old and funky" clothes from the past, made from different materials, colors, patterns, and shapes. I also have always had a flair for the dramatic, so anything I could keep that could double as "clothes" and "costumes" was exciting for me!
I was living in London when I started shopping at thrift and consignment stores. There, they are called "Charity Shops." My best friends and I would spend a whole day "thrifting." Part of the excitement was also in the treasure hunt aspect of shopping like this. It was as if I was always hunting for unique, one of a kind items at a good price. We'd stumble upon vintage items or even high end brands that we'd never be able to afford off the store rack in the name brand stores.
On creative expression and clothing…
As I entered high school (in Virginia) I was never interested in what anyone else was doing... how they were dressing, what music they were listening to. My style just became so ingrained, I wanted to be unique. I specifically didn't want to look like everyone else, and I wanted to express myself creatively through my clothes. I couldn't understand, and still can’t, the notion of shopping for a label or brand name... who the heck cares! It has to look good on you and make you feel good. People have often remarked that I can "pull off a look that no one else could," and I have since developed a motto in response "you can wear it if you think you can wear it!"
I also love color, which is something not a lot of people are drawn to. I like bold bright prints and colors. I am naturally an outgoing person so perhaps it starts literally on the outside of my body. I am trying to tell people before we even talk, that "Hey, I'm out there!"
On clothing and life flexibility…
I also have a lot of different vocations where I need to look or dress appropriately/differently... I've worked in offices where I had to dress well, I teach dance and Pilates, I work in a hospital, I'm a mom, etc. etc... the variety in my clothing needs to be vast!
Inspired? Want to figure out your own style? Here’s a quick quiz to help: Three Steps to Defining your Style
Wondering which Hem + Haw bag Keira added to her closet? This one.