Hip Hip, hooray! I get to introduce you to RaeAnna, the Jackie O. of Marietta, Ohio. RaeAnna is a busy mom of six children and she also happens to be the epitome of classic, timeless style. Her understanding of body shape, lines and color palettes allows her to dress successfully for her own body-type but she is notorious for sharing this knowledge with others by helping them find figure flattering styles that reflect their personality. (In other words, she is an unpaid image consultant!) RaeAnna is graceful, strong and poised. Everything a woman of true style should be! I feel lucky to call her a friend and lucky to share her words of wisdom regarding style with you. Grab a pencil and some paper; you'll want to take notes.
How would you describe or define your current style?
My current style, or what I'm aiming for my current style to be, is kind of late fifties/early sixties--the era of simplicity as far as line and color of clothes accessorized with one bold piece of interest. I've been trying to find that spot-on balance of classic, but relevant, sophistication.
What inspires you and the way you dress?
Whenever I see a mom my age wearing the drooping pony tail, the 5K T-shirt under the drop-waist denim jumper, and her husbands flip-flops, it inspires me in some bizarre-o way to have fashion in my life. To see a girl not try to have a glimmer of style in her life makes my insides wither. I'm motivated to dress up because of how it makes me feel--alive.
Do you have any fashion icons or people whose style you love?
Women from both my home and from Hollywood have definitely inspired my style. My Grammy was a fashion editor for Lord and Taylor on Fifth Avenue in NYC in the forties. All growing up, she not only would tell us fabulous stories of what it was like working there, but she always dressed as though she were still in the fashion industry. My mom would also tell us her little fashion rules that I have found to be un-failingly true: If you show skin, people will look there instead of looking at your face. If you wear the right color, you'll look younger and thinner. If you're past 30 and still have long hair, fix it every day or "you'll look like an old hag". Rarely are knees pretty, so cover them.
As for Hollywood, Audrey Hepburn IS fashion, to me. My mother once had a part in a production of "My Fair Lady". We watched the film, and I connected with it. Audrey had so much grace in her style, but also had a certain level of modesty. As far as I know, she didn't use fashion provocatively like others of her time. Jacklyn Kennedy Onassis was also so demure but bold in her style. And even though Marilyn Monroe is on the trampy side of fashion, I do like to modestly incorporate just the tiniest smidgen of the "pin-up" look every now and then. Can a good girl admit that?
What are some of your favorite places to shop?
Nordstrom's, Ann Taylor, and Talbot's are where I enjoy shopping. Because they are so expensive, I try to make it count when I do buy something. However, the best suit I have was from a catalog called "MetroStyle", which is a cheaper version of "Chadwick's". I love looking at those catalogs because even though they have cheaply made clothing, they do have interesting styles and silhouettes. But at the end of the day, GoodWill is always the best and the funnest.
Do you have any tips for the novice shopper?
In fact, it was at GoodWill that I began to learn about how to dress my body. A long story short, I'm the youngest girl out of four in a row. Hand-me-downs were my lot in life. Since I didn't ever have money or the opportunity to learn how to shop or fit my body, I had to teach myself at 30 years old. Luckily we lived in Connecticut near wealthy neighborhoods. The GoodWill was stacked with high-end clothing. I would go there and try on all sorts of clothes and memorize the colors, the styles, and the brand names that were successes or failures. The next time I would go shopping, I would then know to stay away from tops that were salmon pink--even though I love that color desperately--because it just never worked for me the millions of times I've tried to make it work. Knowing to avoid certain items makes shopping more successful in less time. Through this experience I also learned that you never know what will happen until you try it on. By being open and brave, you will probably stumble onto a style or color that you had no idea you could rock.
Do you feel there are any splurge worthy items---things you are willing to spend more money on? Splurge-worthy items? Well, in my opinion, every girl needs a little "black" dress. (I use quotations because some girls do brown, grey, or navy better than black.) When the magic happens and you find your dress, be responsible and snatch it up! The same goes for that perfect bathing suit. Those are almost always expensive but so worth it.
What items in your closet do you keep coming back to year after year?
Wardrobe staples, for me, include jeans, khaki's, a black dress, *white shirts*, a cute dressy jacket, pearls, and a pair or two of slingbacks. White shirts have a special place in my closet. And I think every girl whether she knows it or not needs a pair of fishnets.
What are some of your favorite outfits/combinations?
One of my favorite outfits involves my husbands cranberry and gold striped neck-tie, my tailored jean jacket, a white oxford shirt, my lime green long-sleeved T-shirt, a long khaki pencil skirt, and dark brown high-heeled boots with my Grandmother's ring with the big pink stone. It combines color, layers, and also has a masculine edge. I like the androgynous look here and there.
A style combination that I'm trying to figure out is how to dress like Audrey Hepburn with a body shaped more like Ms. Monroe. So far I've learned that you have half a chance if you keep it black.
When my Grammy passed away, my mom gave me one of my Grammy's sets of jewelry. I absolutely loved them, but back then it looked so gaudy. Now I enjoy wearing her pieces because I'm learning how to wear baubles and glitz without it looking dumpy, cheap, or dated.
Are there any trends you are looking forward to?
A trend that I have enjoyed is the solid-color trend. I'm a solid-color girl. It seems that maybe we are still in this trend judging from what I've seen on the runways this month, but definitely on the last of it. I read somewhere that Jackie Kennedy wore a printed fabric once and that was because it was a woven cloth given to her from a president of an Asian country. Even then, it was the skirt part of her dress and not up by her face. It seems that with a solid color, the trend is more in the cut of the garment--drapes, gathering, tailoring, necklines, sleeves, monochromatic embellishments, etc.
Ruffles have been a huge trend which, when worn wisely, can be amazing in correcting or concealing imbalances in body-proportions.
I cringe a little when I see the 80's fashions gaining popularity. It's not kind, but I'll say it anyway: To me, the 80's were Disney's version of the Victorian Era.
The silhouette that is popular is very willowy with lots of garments that just hang, like a sweater or scarf, very unstructured. This is very bad for me. It's completely opposite of what I need style-wise. And usually if there is something flowy on top, the skinny jeans are worn on the bottom. This is even worse for me. I guess I'll just have to stick this one out.
A look that I'm currently on the hunt for is the black wool coat with 3/4-length sleeves worn with long black leather gloves.
Can you share with us any recent favorite purchases?
Yikes! I just bought two more white shirts! And I think it was in a weak, lonely moment last February when I bought two cute skirts with some red patent leather peep-toe heels. I still haven't had the chance to wear them because I happened to be pregnant when I bought them! (Does my husband know about this?) I'm dying to wear them!
Anything you are planning/would like to purchase in the near future?
Ann Taylor just had the most perfect bag that I've looked everywhere for. I'm not a purse-carrier, but this one caught my eye. It was black leather with a black grosgrain ribbon bow tied on one of the handles. And I've finally found my perfect tall boot, the Kirby boot--black leather, sleek seeming, the most elegant heel and toe, zipper up the back. Jimmy Choo and Nordstrom's were asking only $965! I found this pair in my size the other night on e-bay with seriously two more minutes of bidding; the price was $399.99. My husband is so happy that I forgot my password! Another little new wish I have I stumbled upon in the shoe sale at JCrew's website--the Paulina ballet flat. Imagining me wearing it makes me think of picnics and tree swings.
What advice would you give someone who is trying to find their own personal style or spruce up their current look?
My advice for anyone who is new to or intimidated by fashion is start with color. If you are wearing the right color near your face, you're well on your way. You will know what colors are right for you if you look good in them even before you put on make-up. Stand in front of the mirror. If you eyes can't take themselves off of the shirt you're wearing, it' the wrong color. After color, move onto necklines. An easy indicator of which neckline is right for you is to think of opposites: If you have a pointed chin, usually a rounded or square neckline will look good on you. If you have a rounded jaw and chin, usually a square or V neckline will flatter you. If you have a little patience, you can have the makings of a great look by mastering these two simple elements of style.
My random fashion commentary: So few women--the ones that you see at church or the grocery store--really know how to get dressed up! American woman are too sloppy! I have chosen to get really dressed up once a week. Church is an opportunity to pull out the make-up and heels. With all of the children running around all week, it's healing to see myself showered and fixed up. At this phase of my life, I can only commit to once a week.