My daughter and I are so close that sometimes it sort of feels like we’re the same person. We read each other’s minds, finish each other’s sentences and yes, when shopping together we almost always reach for the same things. But, my one and only has an incredible sense of style all her own that is enviable and I thought it would be fun if she shared some of her insights with you today. As to whether or not I’ve made her list of personal style icons, you’ll have to read on to find out ;)
What was your first fashion obsession?
It would have to be my very first little black dress. I was five. It was a Christmas dress. Loved that dress! It had a full, black-and-white striped satin skirt, tulle underlay, black velvet fitted bodice and satin bow that tied around the waist. It was something out of an Audrey Hepburn film. I loved feeling “dressed up” and girly (and twirling around in a full skirt was fun, too). Little did I know that this piece, complete with simple accessories (sans a matching bow in my hair) would set the tone for my personal style into adulthood.
What are you obsessed with today?
I’ve always loved dresses of all of all styles – sundresses, cocktail dresses, sheaths, gowns – but I’d say the color black is my primary fashion obsession today. That bodes well for my collection of LBDs, but I’ve expanded my wardrobe to include black blazers (my three favorites are by Zara, Elizabeth & James and Madewell), pencil skirts, denim (shout out to this pair of Paige jeans – they are the best!) and even some leather pants that I can dress up or down. Whether I’m in a rush in the morning or trying to figure out what to pack for a business trip, I feel like I can never go wrong with black. It’s easy on the brain and makes me feel put together without trying too hard. (Sound like anyone you know, Mom?)
Describe your style:
Overall, I’d say I try to stick with a minimalist vibe that’s professional and chic. The foundation of my wardrobe is made up of classic pieces in shades of black, white, gray, camel and navy, but I like putting a twist on whatever I wear with a great bag, fun shoes, the occasional statement necklace or a pop of color or print (like a leopard scarf).
Building on that foundation are a few style “personas” that change depending on the occasion, my mood or even the weather. Some days I’m more “edgy city girl” (think: a black studded blazer), while other days I go for a more feminine vibe (I have a silk blouse in every color of the rainbow – Equipment makes my favorites). And still, other days I’m inarguably preppy, wearing my cable-knits, pleated minis and all-things plaid. My collection of plaid flannel shirts, mini skirts and scarves are wardrobe staples during chilly Chicago winters.
Besides me (ha ;)) who are your style icons?
You kid, but of course you are my style icon! I love how you’ve always put your own spin on classics, which keeps your look timeless and modern. You also aren’t afraid to throw the rules out the window when it comes to layering, mixing prints or proportions (I love how you wore a corset over a white tuxedo shirt in your Tis the Season post).
A few other lessons you’ve taught me:
-Every woman needs a good tailor, because clothing sizes are truly “just a number.” It’s better to go up a size and have the piece taken in than buy something that’s too tight.
-Dress for your body, regardless of what’s trendy. (Lesson learned: I really like flowy mini dresses and unstructured boho looks, but a few “oops” online orders later have taught me that tailored cuts are more flattering for my body type.)
–Build your wardrobe around classics. They’re worth the investment – think long term and treat these pieces well (i.e. the perfect black sheath, a white silk blouse, cigarette pants, a black blazer, classic pumps with a moderate heel, etc.).
Aside from you, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O and Grace Kelly make my list, as well as Taylor Swift Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Blake Lively.
What are your go-to wardrobe staples?
Structured blazers, plain white tees, silk blouses, black skinny jeans, wool pencil skirts, pointy-toe black and nude pumps, a classic trench and dresses for every occasion (sheath or with a clearly delineated waist). Honorable mention goes to: plaid flannel button-downs, mini (but not too mini) skirts, dark-wash skinny jeans (with a hint of stretch), v-neck cashmere sweaters and simple gold jewelry.
Do you have any personal styling tricks you could share with us?
My general rule of thumb is to keep it simple when it comes to accessorizing. I typically have a “pick one” frame of mind – what one accessory, be it a statement necklace, bold earrings, a chunky belt, great bag or fabulous shoes, will compliment your look best?
If you’re going with a statement necklace, for example, then I’d shy away from wearing bold earrings or a belt at the same time.
I also keep proportionality in mind when putting an outfit together. If you’re going with a chunky knit, pair it with skinny jeans and heels to add height and balance out your silhouette. If you’re wearing a full skirt, opt for a fitted top that’s tucked in to show off your waist.
What should every woman have in her wardrobe?
A power dress that makes you feel confident, a pair of quality heels, and Spanx. No matter what your size, Spanx (or an equivalent undergarment brand) helps to keep everything smooth so that clothing drapes in an extra-flattering way.
I’m also a big proponent of keeping a few pieces of clothing in your wardrobe that have a little extra wiggle room. It’s normal to waiver a few pounds depending on what’s going on in your life, so having a handful of comfortable pieces on hand can take the stress out of getting dressed.
You travel a lot for your job. What are your packing essentials?
In terms of clothing, I rotate my shortlist of sheath dresses, pencil skirts and silk blouses that I know fit well and have passed the “sit down test” (aka I can cross my legs and still feel comfortable in terms of garment length). I always travel with an extra outfit just in case: typically a pair of cropped black pants, a white silk shell and a black blazer. I keep it to one pair of heels and one pair of flats so I can save my feet when I’m in-transit to and from meetings. Jewelry is always simple – I wear a delicate gold necklace from Madewell, a gold Michael Kors watch and the same Tiffany gold knotted studs I wear almost every day.
Aside from clothing, I can’t travel without Drybar dry shampoo for blondes (they have one for darker hair colors, too). It gives my blowouts some extra oomph to power them through two-day business trips.
You’re a millennial who also happens to be something of a millennial expert in your role with Female Factor. Do millennials have a more utilitarian view of fashion?
Great question. I think the answer is yes and no. Overall, our society has become much more casual, so the lines between what we wear to work and what we wear to play are blurred. Many workplaces have taken on business casual dress codes that allow jeans on a daily basis. How many roundups have you seen about how to take a look from day to night? I think the underlying trend here is that Millennials tend to be experience-driven, and their clothing choices reflect these experiences. So in this sense, Millennials do want their clothes to “work for them” in a more utilitarian way, and may own less clothing as a result.
Even so, Millennials may be more casual, but I do believe that they are a style-conscious generation. They’ve grown up in the Digital Age, and are the creators of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, not to mention blogs. These visual platforms have been an important source of inspiration as they’ve developed their own sense of style based on current trends and “influencers.” I personally use Pinterest all the time to help answer the question, “What should I wear today?”
…If you put something on and feel blah, uncomfortable or just not your best, take it off. The more you can incorporate pieces that you love, the more confident you’ll be. Know which brands, styles or colors typically work best for you, and as you cultivate these options, remember that the only person you should be dressing for is you. That’s the best way to develop a genuine sense of style that will inevitably inspire others.