A Happy Blog-iversary Question and Answer Session
I cannot believe all that has happened in the last two years since I launched Stunning Style! It was so scary to put myself out there in this way, but I can honestly say it’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I’m so grateful for each of you who invite me into your inbox, who read and comment, and who are members of the Stunning Style Society. You’ve trusted me to be part of your own style evolution, purchase the Wardrobe Guides, and participate in my Facebook Groups (I have a FREE Facebook group called Classic Capsule Conversations for all women who love classic style, capsule wardrobes and want to discuss).
I am so blessed to have such a positive, uplifting group of women here, and it makes my day when I read your comments, receive your emails, and hear how your style is evolving. Thank you for being here! Without you, I would be talking to myself. :)
I asked in my Facebook groups for some questions you’ve wanted to ask me, and you didn’t disappoint! I combined some of the questions because they were similar. If you want to see last year’s Q&A, here it is!
When did you first become interested in fashion? Was there a particular event that you recall, or has it always just been what you like?
I remember being very young, like 4, and watching American Bandstand after the Saturday morning cartoons were over, and loving the outfits the women in the audience were wearing. I’d go dig in my closet to see if I could recreate them. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a sequined tube top, metallic mini skirt, or stiletto heel to be found in my kindergarten closet.
I borrowed clothes from my brothers, and repurposed clothes from my younger sister. My parents love to talk about the time in middle school when I took my brother’s olive green scout pants and tight rolled them, paired them with a peach button up, buttoned all the way to the top, added a small angular brooch to my neckline and added a pair of black pointy toe heels. I once cut up a dress my little sister had outgrown and made a skirt.
I used to play with my mom’s scarves and dickies (because her turtlenecks didn’t fit me when I was 9), and I once made a vampire outfit with her white high neck frilly button up blouse, my black leggings, and made a cape from a square of black fabric. I was channeling Barnabus Collins from Dark Shadows.
So basically I’ve always, always loved clothes and have been experimenting for as long as I can remember.
How long did it take you to find your style?
In some ways I’m still refining my style, and maybe always will be. My whole life I swung between classic and edgy. One extreme or the other, and neither felt right. Over the last few years I’ve been working on my perfect combination of edgy classic.
Also, your colors are spot on for you. But how did you figure out your style? Just trial and error?
Basically, yes. I have always loved classic style clothes, ever since I was young. I was always told that I seemed like a little grown up, and I liked dressing like a grown up. I hated dressing in little girl clothes.
I also have sharp edges, and I found that I’ve always been drawn to things like snake skin, angles, moto details, leather, stripes, button ups, and more. I’ve been learning the last few years how to combine the 2 for a perfect Edgy Classic balance to represent who I am.
BUT, I remember the moment it clicked for me. I was watching the Netflix series Dare Devil season 1 a few years ago, and Elektra Natchio’s wardrobe just made me swoon. I wanted to wear it ALL. It was so elegant, so chic, but hinted at her dangerous side. That’s when I knew what Edgy Classic was, and that’s when I knew what my perfect wardrobe would look like.
Who do you find inspirational? I have heard you mention Jackie O, are there others?
I really love Olivia Palermo’s style. She sticks to her edgy classic style and is unapologetic about dismissing trends that don’t suit her. She’s not a style chameleon, changing with the seasons, and neither am I. I love Queen Letitzia of Spain’s style as well, though her looks are usually necessarily very dressy, and that doesn’t suit my lifestyle. I also love Victoria Beckham’s style, and as mentioned above, Elektra Natchios from Dare Devil, but she’s not a real person.
Do you ever make wardrobe mistakes?
Yes. I do. I’m not perfect or immune to making wardrobe mistakes, and I have an entire Poshmark resale closet to prove it (I haven’t even listed the half of it). I wrote a series about how to buy on Poshmark, how to sell on Poshmark, and featured items I bought on Poshmark.
Would you or have you ever considered going back to your original hair color?
I haven’t seen my natural hair color in 20 years, but last I saw it was a dark blond. Now I’m at least half gray, and it’s not that gorgeous salt and pepper. I’m almost 100% silver on the front half of my head and no gray on the back half. Someday when I’m all silver, I will embrace it. So, in a word, no, I’ll never go back to my natural hair color. #haircolorforlife
How many items do you usually buy per season and how often do you refresh or update items? Items such as shoes, purses, jackets etc. Also, how do you know what is a current trend? What’s coming in or going out trend wise?
I have a clothing budget in a separate bank account, and I stick to it strictly. I like to keep a reserve in there so I can splurge when that perfect item shows up. So it’s less about how many items and more about how much I spend. I’ve been buying fewer, but more expensive, higher quality items so I don’t have to replace items as often. Because my wardrobe is so classic, and because I take really good care of my items, they last forever. I tend to spend the most on shoes, purses, and jackets because they will last me for years and years, and the quality on those show.
When you shop for a living, you spot the trends because they start showing up everywhere. I can tell you that marigold and red are both strong for this upcoming spring season. Color seems to be making a comeback after a long love affair with neutrals, and slowly but surely, bootcut jeans are coming back on the scene.
How do go about keeping classic without looking dated? I tend to get a classic piece and wind up keeping it too long that it is actually out of date.
I actually wrote a post about how to dress classic without looking dated last year. It is the first in a series about Classic Style Twists. It’s all in the details that keep it modern. If an item is truly classic, it won’t ever be out of date. If it’s a classic item with trendy details, say a blazer with an extreme length - super long or super cropped - that will date it, but I’ve had the same black pencil skirt for 20 years, and you would never at any time know I didn’t buy that yesterday. There is nothing trendy about it.
What percentage of clothes from the guides get carried over to the next season?
I try to carry items and colors from season to season in the Guides. I’m trying to help you build a cohesive, year-round wardrobe that you can wear for years to come, and get several seasons of use from the items I include. It really depends on what is available from the retailers each season. If I can’t find that item/color to link to, I don’t include it in the Guide. Most of the items in the Guide you likely have in your closet already, but I do include a few special items each season to freshen up your basics.
Where do you get your inspiration from? What is the criteria for making it into the Guide?
Honestly, I get inspiration from my own wardrobe, and from what I want to add to my own closet, colors I’m craving, and styles I want to incorporate. I tend to get an idea of what I want and then cross my fingers some retailer has had the same idea, and I can find it!
To make it into the Guide it has to be classic, it has to be good quality and have a good fit. It also has to match the color palette I’ve chosen and be mix and matchable with the rest of the wardrobe. I want you to get maximum use out of the pieces. I order all the primary items to check them before they make it in the Guide.
How do you start working on a new season wardrobe? I appreciate all the work you put into it!
I write out a list of the pieces and colors I specifically want for a Guide, then I go looking for them. I also take a scouting trip to the mall, and I troll the internet. I have go-to brands that often provide the foundations I’m looking for, so I check there first. Then I pin, pin, pin to Pinterest so I can see it all together as a cohesive wardrobe. Sometimes once I start making the outfits I’ll realize I’m missing something and go looking for that final piece. And sometimes I see something so awesome it just has to be in it!
My question is about shirt terminology. Is a button down shirt the same as a button up shirt now? Back in the preppy era, a button down shirt had buttons on the points of the collar, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.
Even though people (I’m guilty as well) use the terms interchangeably, you are correct. Button down shirts have the buttons on the collar, and they tend to be found on men’s shirts rather than women’s, and are considered more casual. This article gives a little history on the shirts.
Not really style related, but I remember in a blog post you wrote about how you try to get 24 hours where you don’t have to leave the house. I am curious if you were able to do that when you had a full-time job.
I left my career when I was pregnant with triplets (they were our first kids) and chose to be a stay-at-home mom, so I never had to combine the two. But when I was working outside the home before I had kids, there were definitely Saturdays I didn’t leave the house. Because my husband traveled so much for his job, I often did my errands after work to fill the time, and by Saturday I didn’t need to go anywhere. And aside from going to church, it’s rare we go anywhere on Sundays unless it’s a family gathering, so I also got that time to relax as well before kids.
I struggle with fabrics pilling. Could you give us a list of fabrics that wear well (non-pilling) so we can shop wisely to avoid purchasing sweaters that will look terrible after a wear or two? Do you use a sweater shaver...if so, could you give us a brand/link? Thank you so much!
Pilling is annoying, isn’t it? Pretty much all sweaters pill, but some are much worse than others. I avoid anything that is mostly acrylic. It will look like garbage after a few wears, and to me, that is a waste of money. I like to buy cotton, merino wool, and cashmere. Thinner, cheaper cashmere will pill more than a thicker, tighter weave. This article gives a great explanation.
This is a good sweater shaver. You can also use an actual razor in a pinch.
How to identify a style when you like polished but your lifestyle is casual.
My lifestyle is very casual. I have 6 kids, a puppy, and I’m a work-from-home mom. I only wear items that are machine washable (aside from my coats). When my kids were younger, my rule was I didn’t wear any shoe I couldn’t outrun them in. If one darted for the street or parking lot, I couldn’t be hindered by heels. These days I do love to wear low wedges in the warmer months, but overall I wear sandals, flats, boots, and sneakers.
You can look very polished in a tee and jeans, or a sweater and jeans. It’s all in the details. Well fitting clothing items matter. Hair and makeup always make you look put together. Adding earrings and/or a necklace adds to the pulled-together look. You can even wear sneakers if you pick the right ones.
I was at the school the other day wearing a sweater, jeans, boots, and earrings, and one of the teachers stopped to tell me how glamorous I looked. My outfit was quite casual and simple, but the details made me look very pulled together. This is the outfit I was wearing. Super casual for a cold, snowy day, but still polished, and Edgy Classic to match my Classic Style Twist. Even snow boots or sneakers would have looked great, but been very functional!
Also tips for petites leaning towards plus size?
My top recommendations would be:
1. Shop petite specific lines. Brands like Talbots and Boden have petites that go into the plus sizes. The clothes aren’t just shorter. The overall construction is specific to your overall size - the rise is shorter on pants, the torso is shorter in tops, etc. Depending on how petite you are, sometimes you can have a standard size shortened, but if it’s too much, you loose the overall shape of the garment and it looks funny. Dresses specifically need to be petite or the waist will be too long and the bodice will bunch up.
2. Learn and dress for your body type. If you’re a petite plus and have a curvy or hourglass shape, you can add visual pounds if you hide your waist. If you are a pear, skinny jeans will accentuate that, etc. That’s a whole other rabbit hole I’m sending you down, but it really will make a big difference on you.
3. Have your clothes tailored to fit you perfectly. If it’s too long or too wide, it will add pounds, and make you look like you are playing dress up. It’s worth it to have your items fit like they were custom-made.