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The True Fashionista

I often use the term “True Fashionista” on this blog when discussing how some trends (white shoes, visible lingerie, etc.) works for no one but this select few. Many of you have written me asking me what makes one a True Fashionista.

The True Fashionista…

… Understands, accepts and embraces her entire figure – bust, hips, height… you name it.

…Already knows how to accentuate her positives and also knows very well what those positives are.

…The only time she curses her reflection is when she notices a stain on her shirt or a run in her hose.

…Never searches magazines and the ‘Net for information on which haircut or glasses shape best suits her face shape.

…Knows she is fabulous in her own way, and even strangers are fully aware of how fabulous she is.

…When friends describe her, they can immediately describe her sense of style – a typical look, a signature accessory, a uniform of sorts (even if she changes inspirations and genres on a daily basis).

…Even if her tastes are 180 degrees the opposite of theirs, friends will always come to her for fashion and design advice.

…She doesn’t need this blog.

In essence, if you are reading this blog, you usually are here looking for style advice. If you are seeking style advice, you don’t fit into the True Fashionista category, and many of the zany, artsy and funky fashions will not carry off well on your person.

Don’t be upset or frustrated by me stating this; most of us women (myself included!) are NOT True Fashionistas, and will never be in our lifetime. We all can’t be award-winning journalists, coveted interior decorators, brilliant painters, or Oscar-worthy actresses. Fashion is an art form, and like an art form to be successful with it you need a combination of proper training and born-with-it talent.

One can be a wonderful painter with proper training and examination of one’s work; one can have a beautifully decorated home with some research of design books and Web sites; one can possess fabulous style without being born with the True Fashionista gene.

Style can be learned by understanding yourself, accepting yourself and the life that you lead. Researching, observing, trial and error will help you find your personal style. This doesn’t mean you will someday be able to sport snakeskin trousers, rockabilly chic, boho chic, or even leggings; but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be an utterly stylish and polished woman.

Fashion and Style are not synonymous and style can be achieved by every woman, regardless of figure, age, budget, lifestyle or how many years she has been wearing elastic-waist pleated polyester trousers. As with any other art form, it is possible to learn it and to understand it – and there is such beauty and talent in various levels of the craft.

Your first piano recital may have been the most beautiful sound you and your parents had ever heard; after five more years of lessons and practice you may laugh at or be embarrassed by that simple song you tripped over at that initial performance. That doesn’t make that first recital piece any less beautiful – it was beautiful because you took a first step. You practiced, you found something you felt relatively comfortable with, and you brought it to the public. You learned from it – tempo, how to better hold your hands, what style of music that seems to be a best fit for you and from it you grew. The same holds true for personal style. Making slow changes to your look is beautiful – no one expects you to become a virtuoso overnight, and not everyone can be Chopin… but everyone can find what works for them and bring a bit more beauty to them and to this world. Enjoy the journey and be proud of how far you have come!

True Fashionista: Sheree

I must admit, I visit many blogs where it seems that women are not wearing fashion, but fashion is wearing them. They have a passion for the art, but they don’t know when to say no, or when a trend is just not appropriate for their personality, lifestyle, figure, or soul. So when I come across a blog where a real woman really knows herself and how to wear current trends well, I am addicted. And that is how I have been with Sheree’s blog, It’s Not That Deep. Sheree knows herself and her personal style; she knows how to stay true to herself while incorporating the hottest trends, and for that I find Sheree to be a True Fashionista.

Sheree incorporates thrifted pieces with designer with mall-friendly brands like H&M and Vince Camuto, brand new fashion splurges with pieces she has owned for a decade. I love the badass-ness of not just her ensembles but the attitude that comes through her photos.  I also love how she incorporates color – there’s no Rainbow Brite ensembles but carefully chosen pops that add edge, whimsy, and femininity.

Sheree knows fashion, loves fashion, and proves that you can be stylish and be a wonderful parent. Sheree may have a killer wardrobe and killer body, but she’s also a wife and mother to two adorable kiddos.  I love her inspiration posts – you can really see how her mind is working and often the outfit posts that follow incorporate the trends that inspired her. 

Sheree’s personal style is so clear and defined, I find it inspiring.  Looking at her blog is like looking at attainable style of a fashion editor.  Clean, crisp, modern but with a personal touch that makes it unique.  I can see images of fashion insiders like Kate Lanphear, Eva Fontanelli, or Giovanna Battaglia but know I couldn’t afford (or likely fit) a single thing on their bodies; Sheree makes such specific style achievable for the every woman. 

As with every other True Fashionista, I asked Sheree to answer the same five questions:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as feminine with an urban edge.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I have been into fashion for as long as I can remember. When I was younger my bedroom walls were covered with pics of Kate Moss, I live an hour from Manhattan and I would always insist that my dad take me to the city to go shopping even as a teenager. I always insisted I have unique, modern pieces..even as a teen. It continued into my 20’s. I was a womanswear buyer in Manhattan before going back to school to get my Masters in Social Work,

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
My inspiration definitely comes from street style looks. I just search StreetStyle in Tumblr and get loads of inspiration. Designer wise I am obsessed with Phillip Lim and just seeing his runway collection inspires me to try different looks even if I can’t afford all of his pieces. I also love Christine Centenera, the Editor of Vogue Australia.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is fashion plain and simple. Your style is what distinguishes you from everyone else. To develop your own personal style is something that you evolve into over time. I also usually find that people with a true sense of style transcends into their home and other areas of their life. It’s about really knowing who you are as a person and being able to get that across.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I think that developing your own personal style takes time. I used to constantly buy things, bring them home and ask “what was I thinking?” I rarely do this anymore because I know my style. I think that you have to pay attention to what looks you like via Pinterest, other blogs, etc and dissect what attracts you to them. Take that and add in what you feel comfortable in and what feels like you and there you go. I think it takes trial and error and trying things on and figuring out why this feel like me or why it doesn’t. I can appreciate really put together looks (ie, Atlantic Pacific) but it’s not my style, I have a more edgy casual street vibe. So it’s not necessarily just what you like but what is “you”. That’s why I said earlier it’s about knowing who you are. My blog is called “It’s Not That Deep” but I guess sometimes it can be 😉

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Audi

Many readers contact me telling me that because of their job, they can’t dress to match their personal style. Many also tell me that once they hit 30, they don’t feel that they can show their personal style at work because it won’t be seen as professional or serious. When I get such emails, I often send these women a link to Audi’s blog, and that is a big reason (other than thinking she’s utterly fabulous and stylish) why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Audi from the blog Fashion for Nerds is a scientist. She’s over 40. She isn’t one to fit in with the crowd. She loves to travel, loves living in San Francisco, and makes hats in her spare time. She has tattoos, and I am terribly jealous that she has been to Burning Man. She is able to have all this and be professional at work AND true to her personal style. She’s proof that you can be stylish and smart; a professional and a sartorial badass.

I have been reading Audi’s blog for many years and one thing that I love about her style is that while it is unique, it is never a costume. Audi can wear knee-high lace up boots, a harness, a scarf decorated with skulls and it looks polished and sophisticated. She understands not only herself, but her environment and knows how to merge the two.

A big part of why Audi’s style works so well is because she wears it with confidence. I often think of street style blogs – what the subjects may wear may not conventionally make sense, but their posture, their stance, and their visible confidence is the finishing touch that makes the look perfection. Audi carries herself with pride and confidence and it makes her fashions even the more fabulous.

Audi is the queen of the carefully edited closet. While she never shows the same exact outfit twice, you see the same pieces being used over and over, each time getting a new look. Pairing a biker vest with skinny cargos one day and a maxi skirt the other, you hardly realize it’s the same piece. Audi carefully purchases, be it a Helmut Lang dress, a Botiker bag, or an H&M top. And whether it’s ASOS or Alexander McQueen, those pieces get much wear over the years, having new lives as her personal style evolves.

I was so thrilled Audi was willing to be a True Fashionista for Wardrobe Oxygen; here are her responses to the same five questions I ask to each woman in this series.

How would you describe your personal style?
It can be all over the map, but the outfits I feel are really “me” are those that could be described as rocker professional, by which I mean that they look polished and tidy, but have plenty of rebellious elements such as skulls or leather, or that show my tattoos.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
As a kid I used fashion as a means of creating a persona that I didn’t really possess; I was quite shy and reserved all though high school, and dressing in a bold way gave me an air of self confidence. By the time I hit my 20’s I had become genuinely confident, but my style only fully developed once I stopped working in the lab and was able to wear nice clothes to work without having to worry about being uncomfortable all day with my lab coat on over my outfit.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Everywhere, really; other bloggers, people I see on the street, friends, coworkers, window displays, runway shows, magazines. Sometimes it’s just a color combination that I like, sometimes it’s an individual item that strikes a chord, and other times it’s an entire outfit.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion gives us the individual elements: the colors, shapes, patterns, textures, and genres that strike our collective fancy for a particular period of time. Style is how an individual puts those specific elements together.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I think the most important thing is to have an idea of what you want your wardrobe to say about you. If you want to come off as relaxed and approachable, then think of a few examples of people whose style appears that way to you, be it celebrities or people you know. Then start experimenting, understanding all the while that your style will morph over time as you find the garments that make you look and feel your best. The other thing to remember is that it’s one thing to admire a look on someone else, but it’s quite another to wear it yourself; before you buy a new item, ask yourself if you love it for you or if it’s better being loved from afar.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Judith

When I think of a True Fashionista, one of the first women who comes to mind is Judith of the blog Style Crone. I have enjoyed her blog and amazing personal style for years and was thrilled when I saw her featured in Ari Seth Cohen’s blog and book Advanced Style. I was so honored that she agreed to be part of this series.

Style Crone, as stated on her About page, is “Dedicated to the older woman, in her most creative, outrageous, authentic, powerful, adventurous, funny, and proud era. Let’s take back the word crone, to its original meaning, signifying a woman of a “certain age’ who embodies all her life’s wisdom, knowledge, experience, and love.” Judith’s personal style is so quirky, colorful, sophisticated, and completely unique. She inspires me to give clothing an atypical new life, to embrace color, and make me crave a fabulous hat collection.

I remember when I found Judith’s blog, it was one of her “What to Wear to Chemo” posts where her husband Nelson took her picture while undergoing chemotherapy. I remember reading it and tearing up at my desk, recalling a decade prior when I was in a similar situation keeping Karl company while he underwent the same. Cheerful, positive, and comfortable for long spans of time is a big expectation for an ensemble, but it was a good way to get my mind off things. I could see Judith doing the same with her outfits.  Sadly, Nelson lost the battle with cancer; Judith chose pictures for this feature that Nelson photographed, as he was supportive and instrumental in the launching of Style Crone.

Though Nelson passed in April of 2011, Judith continued with Style Crone, showcasing her amazing ensembles, where she wore them, and why. She journals her life through her ensembles, showing that clothing isn’t simply something that you wear, but a way to express your feelings, your life, and your personality.  Here’s Judith’s take on the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista.

How would you describe your personal style?
I’m a lover of hats, vintage clothing and other recycled pieces. I mix it all together according to how I feel, usually starting with a hat. Over the years I have gathered a vintage and hat collection which I draw from and at this point, as I wildly flirt with 70, I find myself shopping my closet and having more fun with style than ever before. I suppose this could be called eclectic, but I don’t really have a label for what I put together. Perhaps quirky?

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I would say that my passion evolved. I remember enjoying style at an early age, but it escalated during the 70’s around the time that a friend owned a vintage store and I began wearing hats for fun and self entertainment. I also discovered estate sales, vintage stores, thrift shops and consignment stores around that same time. I loved finding pieces that weren’t found in the usual places.

Along with a friend I created a hat shop in the 80’s, but continued working as a psych nurse as the business grew. The experience was radically different than working in health care. Choosing outfits, which always included a hat was a way to express myself creatively and became a form of meditation as I approached my day, which usually included extreme and painful stories told by interesting and traumatized people. I find style to be healing and a form of art and self expression.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. The radiantly beautiful diversity of the world’s people, nature, other blogs that I love and the internet in general, personal experiences, movies, books, music, history, museums, travel, food, art. Everything about life and the list is endless! Having a space of time to quiet the mind also expands creativity.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
So many people have defined this difference with eloquence. For me fashion is in the clothes at a certain point in time and includes trends. Style is in the wearer and includes timeless self expression and creativity. Style is a celebration of life and the manifestation of the inner experience projected outward.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Be open to experimentation, inspiration and the silhouettes that make you feel good about yourself and bring you a sense of confidence. Consider it a journey and have fun with it! Style is a reflection of your inner self and can change over time with life experiences and shifts in perceptions and passions. Stretch and expand and do something that makes you feel just a little bit afraid. Try on a new persona like trying on a new pair of shoes. Changing an outfit is under our control, as opposed to the many things that we have no power to modify or alter. Thrift shops and consignment stores are great places to explore when searching for personal self expression. The financial output is small and it’s environmentally friendly. 

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style.  Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion.  These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you.  Stay tuned, there will be a featured  True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Pearl

We “old school” bloggers stick together. We remember when the fashion blogosphere was much smaller, less commercial, and just about sharing personal style and connecting with like-minded folks across the globe.  While we may lose touch a bit from time to time, there’s always a place in our hearts for one another.   Pearl Westwood is one of those “old school” bloggers who I have followed over the years. While she has always had killer style, it has been so much fun to see her hone it over the time on her blog, Fashion Pearls of Wisdom.

Pearl really knows herself, and how to use clothing to express it. Her look shows that she is an individual, celebrates it, yet has a passion for fashion. Pearl epitomizes what I think of as British fashion – edgy, eclectic, yet relaxed.  The Brits see the fun in fashion, yet take it quite seriously.  It is no surprise that Pearl’s favorite fashion designer is Vivienne Westwood.   

Pearl’s blog Fashion Pearls of Wisdom doesn’t just feature her personal style and recent purchases, but breaks down the latest looks and runway shows, analyzing the concept, thought, and designer. Pearl understands and respects the talent and history behind fashion.  She will often feature a designer I had never heard of but instantly love and respect thanks to her analysis.  I love how she will drop a fact about an obscure brand or a designer’s collection from a decade ago as easily as many speak of reality TV or current events.  Sharing of such information isn’t for Pearl to show off her immense fashion knowledge, but because she loves and lives fashion.

While Pearl is quite aware of what is current in fashion, she stays true to her personal aesthetic, and only takes on the trends that adhere to her personal style.  I think what I admire most about Pearl’s style is how consistent it is.  Consistent isn’t a bad thing – one look at Pearl’s blog and you can see that her style is anything but boring.  But she knows herself, what she likes, and what she wishes to say with fashion and is always true to herself.

Enough of me raving about Pearl, here’s her side of the story.  As with every other True Fashionista, I have asked her to answer the same five questions:

How would you describe your personal style?
‘Like Vivienne Westwood vomited all over me’ is how one friend likes to describe me ha ha good job we share a wicked sense of humour! I hold my hands up and have to admit Vivienne Westwood features heavily in my wardrobe, I just love everything about her designs. I don’t think there is any other designer who pushes the boundaries quite liker her and the fact that many of her pieces come with political messages, such as to save the rainforests, they have have meaning as well as style. Mixed in with that are other carefully chosen designer pieces and a stack of vintage. I don’t really care where my clothes come from, it’s not about the label, but about how they look. I would rather have one thing that I am totally obsessed with and wear everyday than a bag full of things I wasn’t all that fussed about. My key items are jackets particularly vintage sequin ones, ankle socks and crazy heels.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
You know I’m not really sure, it has always been something I was interested in. My mum says I get it from my maternal grandmother, who I sadly never met and since my mum is totally glam herself I would say it runs in the family. I think my mum really helped by encouraging me to experiment with fashion as a child, when I was a kid she would braid multi-coloured ribbons into my hair so I could look like 80’s pop star Boy George!

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I gobble up everything and anything fashion, from runway shows, glossy magazines and hundreds of blogs it is my job to know about all the latest trends and I love to learn so I can’t deny this has influence on me. But what I really find inspiring is vintage shopping, just getting to examine beautiful and unique things sets my imagination off. I also really like to see what other people are wearing, I find it fascinating how two people can wear the same thing in such a different way. I admire people who dress for themselves regardless of current trends such as Dame Vivienne Westwood and the late Anna Piaggi. I try to take all this on board to feed my own imagination but most of all the one thing that inspires me are the clothes themselves. Nothing can beat that feeling of finding a item which you just fall for head over heels, be it for it’s beauty or unusual construction, the pieces that you put on and want to twirl around in, fashion should be fun above all else.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Ah the ago old question! I think anyone can go out and buy fashion but it takes style to be able to wear it well. That said everone has their own opinions on what defines the two. Personally I love fashion, I love a new trend and I love getting dressed up. Perhaps it is more to do with your attitude, you could wear a bin-bag and be stylish so long as you had the confidence. I am reminded of a story about Vivienne Westwood, when she had gotten caught out in the rain whilst riding her bicycle to a meeting. Ever the DIY advocate Vivienne had fashioned herself a hat out of one of her store carrier bags to save her hair getting a soaking. Pulling up under the window to park her bike, those she was meeting laughed and ridiculed her, even taking a photography and publishing it in a mocking way. So Vivienne went and embroidered that very photo inside her couture clothing, the eccentric lady with a plastic bag on her head grinning at you as you handed over thousands of pounds to her. I think we can safely say it was Vivienne to get the last laugh. Have faith in yourself and take your own opinion, it is you who has to wear the clothes at the end of the day.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Enjoy it! I actually started my blog because I wanted to record the style journey I was on. Having had an interest in fashion for many years it wasn’t until I finished my undergrad degree at uni and I guess started to grow up that I really found myself conscious of fashion again. I was on a personal journey as I had to decide on my career and also a journey of self discovery as I finally lost the weight I had been wanting to shift for the past couple of years. Suddenly fashion became something I was able to play around with instead of just having to wear whatever I could find to fit. I realise now that most of my problems with fashion had been in my own head, it was more to do with confidence than dress size. So now I would advise everyone to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks, stop worrying about all the ‘style rules’, pick and choose what tips you like and get out there and start having fun. If you want to wear bright pink and orange do it! If you want to go into a designer boutique do it, don’t be intimidated. Have no fear! 

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style.  Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion.  These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you.  Stay tuned, there will be a featured  True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Sheila

I hate the idea of changing your style or love of fashion because you’ve hit some age milestone. It’s utterly ridiculous, we don’t lose our personalities at certain ages, why should our style disappear? As I get closer and closer to 40, I’ve been more and more inspired by women in the blogosphere who have amazing, inspiring personal style and show that age is but a number. One of those women is Sheila from the blog Ephemera, and that is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

I’ve actually been a fan of Sheila for many years; I can’t recall how I found her blog but it has been on my reader a while and I continue to be inspired and excited by her outfits. Sheila rocks color, print, unique cuts and silhouettes. She is a thrifting queen and creates the most unusual pairings. Her personal life is infused into her outfits – a bit of steampunk, accessories with sentimental value, garments she has swapped with other bloggers. And speaking of which, Sheila is one who truly loves the community created with style blogging – she has made many friends, has met many of them, and even trades clothing with them.

Sheila is proof that you don’t need to spend a million bucks to look like a million bucks. She thrifts and cosigns, she keeps things for years and brings them back into rotation when they fit current trends or her current personal style. She isn’t hesitant to get rid of something that isn’t a wise choice (and I love how she asks the opinions of her readers), and is always adding new secondhand scores to update the wardrobe.

Sheila’s blog Ephemera makes me feel as though I’m hanging out in her bedroom with a glass of wine, watching her try on clothes in her closet. She shares multiple views of the clothing (as you can see from my collages I adore her reclining on the stairs pose), her reasoning behind the garments and ensembles, and a peek into her life and where she wore the outfits.

Sheila’s style is creative, unique, yet extremely wearable. She is proof that one can still have fun with fashion (and life!) and look polished when over 40. She’s fun, inspiring, intelligent, and has amazing personal style. As with every True Fashionista, I asked Sheila to answer the same five questions; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
Um…crazy lady chic? Classic with a twist? Eclectic? Eccentric? All those kind ways to say, “Sheila’s a little “out there” with her clothes.” I love colour, pattern, texture, shine – even better if it’s all in one item! I’m a bit of a crow that way. I don’t like to look like everyone else; I want to stand out, especially the older I get (I’m 45). I refuse to disappear into drabness in my middle age – I have more confidence now about my body and myself in general than I did 10/15/20+ years ago, and I make a statement with how I feel by how I wear my clothes. I’m a supporter of Patti’sVisible Mondays” at Not Dead Yet Style, because it’s helping women feel better about themselves, no matter what age they are!

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I grew up surrounded by creativity – my mom is an artist, so I learned about colour very early in my life. I don’t remember ever not wanting to wear bright colours. My grandmother also dyed her hair bright red (I’m a blonde right now, but I’ve been a box-dye redhead for a good portion of my life) and wore bold jewelry, which was also inspiring. When I was 14, I met my great-aunt Ann – she must have been in her 60s, but she was wearing a flowered mini-skirt, hot pink heels, and a fitted top. Her black hair was scraped back and she had pink lipstick and bold make-up. I remember thinking, “I want to be her when I grow up!”

In my teens and experimenting with fashion, my mom gave me some excellent advice that I’ve never forgotten: “Never wear the same thing twice. Always keep them guessing.” She didn’t want me to get locked into a look/stereotyped and encouraged me to try on different personas through clothing. I looted clothing from her, from my dad, and shopped vintage and loved playing with people’s perception of who I was.

I struggled with my weight and my self-esteem in my twenties and thirties. It wasn’t until I lost 50 lbs 6-7 years ago that I finally felt like I was getting my life under control. I work hard to maintain my weight, and I am proud of my shape. I want to show it off!

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Oh, gosh, everywhere! Afraid to mix colours? Look at nature for inspiration: irises for blue and yellow, cherry trees in bloom for pink and burgundy and brown. I love seeing what other people wear, both in the blogoverse and in real life. I always notice what people are wearing, especially if they’ve put some thought into it and are pushing the creative envelope. I like to look at fashion magazines to see what’s coming, and then I either shop my closet (I have a large closet and a big wardrobe!) or keep an eye out for it in thrift stores and consignment stores.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I think fashion is inspiration and style is perspiration – you have to work at style! You can be a slave to fashion and end up looking good, even great, but constantly chasing the next new thing – fashion is ever-changing, fleeting and ephemeral (which is where I got the name for my blog, by the way). Style is taking what you like and what suits your personality and body type and creating an expression of yourself. When I really feel like “me” in an outfit, I know that I’ve hit my personal style just right. Style is always experimenting and trying something new, even if it fails – you’ll never grow if you don’t at least try! Style also changes, sometimes due to time and aging, or a change in circumstance (my job allows me to be fairly creative in my sartorial choices), or just through one’s own personal growth, but it has a timeless quality that never looks stale or dated like trendy fashions eventually do.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Don’t be afraid to try something different; don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Embrace who you are – right now! – and wear what you love, and to hell with what other people think! Be yourself and enjoy your clothes!

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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True Fashionista: Beth

There’s a part of me who wants to be preppy. To be that fresh faced, girly, outdoorsy, classic. To be that gal with the breezy highlighted hair, crisp chino shorts, who knows her way around a boat and a horse. As I was growing up, I tried to embrace this trend a few times (college friends can recall my blonde bob/sweater tied around my neck phase), but I realized it just wasn’t my true personal style. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love it, and get very inspired by those who wear this look so naturally. Women like Beth, whose blog s e e r s u c k e r + s a d d l e s shows her effortless classic, preppy, and nautical personal style. Beth continues to inspire me with her clear vision, passion for fashion, and understanding of both fit and personal style and that is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Every outfit Beth features on s e e r s u c k e r + s a d d l e s is consistent to her classic style, yet exudes fun and nods to current trends. Be it pairing leather leggings with a plaid flannel, a neon satchel with a cargo jacket and distressed denim, or a trendy shoe with otherwise classic pieces, Beth adds edge to a colorful, clean, and sporty wardrobe. Thanks to talented photographer Kristen Tatem, Beth’s blog constantly features clear and inspiring outfit photographs

s e e r s u c k e r + s a d d l e s is a great resource for the woman who doesn’t have the lifestyle for flatforms and fishnets; Beth regularly gives me inspiration for my weekend and Casual Friday ensembles. She mixes sequins with denim, plaid with polka-dots, canvas with silk in a way that makes sense and looks fabulous. Beth is proof that that flats are quite chic and dress up nicely, and how a closet of well-chosen separates can give you far more options and style than a closet overflowing with current trends.

Like me, Beth finds leopard to be a neutral and I am always excited to see how she incorporates it into an ensemble, be it a skinny belt or a pair of brogues. She mixes colors like a pro, never looking like Rainbow Brite. As a working mother of two, she is proof that you can be stylish and still lead a very full life. One of the most interesting things I learned about Beth through this series, is as you’ll see in her answers, she too envisions herself at times with a different personal style!  As with every other True Fashionista, I asked Beth to answer the same five questions; here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would say my style is a mixture of classic & girly with a bit of quirk.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I think I was born with this innate passion for fashion. There are pictures of me when I was 3 dressed up in my mother’s clothing, all accessorized from top to bottom, handbags, baubles, heels—you name it! It has truly always been my creative outlet.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I think I’m just like all of us gals when I say I gather my inspiration from the mags, Pinterest, other bloggers, street style—I’m always looking for it everywhere I am!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Sometimes I believe fashion to be unattainable for us everyday folk. Say for instance, if you don’t have an endless budget where you can drop a ton of cash at a time and have to be conscious of your spending. Or, if you’re like me, and don’t live in a bustling city with high end boutiques and designers on every other corner…that’s where Style comes into play. It’s about taking a play on the high end fashion and making it your own. Investing in the key pieces like handbags but playing with the of-the-moment pieces that you can find at your Targets, Gaps, J.Crews, etc. Style is defined by YOU!

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
I still struggle with not jumping on every trend bandwagon. I would totally love to do the urban, boho chic thing, but I would look & feel unnatural. Not to mention I’m no longer in my 20s, have two children, and live in the South–basically that aesthetic doesn’t gel with my lifestyle. So there it is, I think the process of finding your personal style is one that is ever evolving, but ultimately comes down to finding what YOU look & feel best in. I also think you need to be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s with color, a print, or a new cut of pant–just TRY it. It will help you get a better sense of what works for you.

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!


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True Fashionista: E

When publications ask me for an example of true DC style, I always mention E at District of Chic. Our lovely city is often blasted for having no style and being a sea of ill-fitting navy skirtsuits and white sneakers, but in fact we are a city who knows style and appreciates quality. E epitomizes DC style by mixing designer with Zara, flea market finds with tailored classics, simple elegance with touches of personality and whimsy. And for all of this, I consider E to be a True Fashionista.

I love looking to E’s blog for ideas on how to wear work clothes for weekends, or weekend clothes to the office. Her blog is a great resource for ideas on how to look chic yet be comfortable when traveling. She’s also a great example of a woman who purchases quality, not quantity and rewears items over and over, each new ensemble giving the garment a new life.

E has chosen to keep herself anonymous on the blog, and gives enough detail to understand her reasons for her outfits, but maintains her privacy. I had the pleasure of meeting E, and can attest to the fact that she is sweet and charming in person, and completely matches the persona on District of Chic.

At first glance, E’s personal style may seem a bit conservative and preppy, but as you dig into her pieces, her accessories, and her choices of styling there’s a rock star who emerges. Monkey fur, black leather, zipper details and band tee shirts keeps E’s office-appropriate wardrobe from looking too severe and anything but boring. I look to E for inspiration on how to dress in a tasteful and professional manner without sacrificing personal style. She really has the combination down pat, and proves that one can be stylish and about business, can have fun and still be appropriate, can be a rock star and still be tasteful.

As with every other True Fashionista, I asked E to answer the same five questions; here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic. Somewhat ADD.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
It’s just always been something I’ve appreciated as far back as I can remember. I’m a visual person – I love interesting color combinations and beautiful shapes. I think fashion is something I’m naturally attracted to.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Friends, family, magazines, blogs (duh!), people on the street – you name it!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I tend to think of fashion as actual creations and style as the method in which those creations are worn.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Play! Don’t be afraid to branch out and wear stuff you wouldn’t normally wear.

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Denisio

Sometimes in the blogosphere, it just seems like more of the same. Every woman has a slightly different personal style, but with so many fashion blogs out there, you can grow tired of the same trends, same poses, same sameness. So when you come across a blog like The Ravenous Creator, it is like a breath of fresh air.

The Ravenous Creator is a peek into the mind of Denisio Truitt, DC-based blogger, business owner, creative spirit. Denisio sees fashion as a form of art, by reworking vintage (and selling it at 8 Vintage, a business run by she and fellow fashion blogger Krystin Hargrove), sketching designs, sewing garments, photographing provocative portrait (and self-portrait) series, and pushing every possible sartorial boundary.

I couldn’t carry off 90% of the things Denisio wears on her blog, but that is one reason why I like her personal style so much. Her combinations are what I would never consider, she plays with proportions, colors, and textures. She embraces her curves, her freckles, and rocks the short hair (which often changes colors). She inspires me to think outside the box, give a new life to a garment collecting dust in my closet or even consider wearing lingerie as part of a streetwear ensemble.

Denisio is proof that Washington DC is a city full of creative, fashionable, and fabulous women. I am honored that she was willing to be a part of my True Fashionista series. Here are her answers to the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista:

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic, feminine and sexy. I love embracing my curves and wearing things that showcase them. In short I like looking and feeling like woman.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My mother and grandmother. They’ve had me looking sharp since birth.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Two words: Karla Deras. Her style is more simple and clean than my aesthetic but her love of vintage, unique accessories, and attention to the feminine form is a constant source of inspiration.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion are the items, the ingredients. Style is the execution, the way in which you cook and put said ingredients together.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Know what works for your body, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone while still remaining true to your aesthetic, and have fun! 

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Erica

Growing up, my mom made a lot of my sister and my clothes. Easter dresses, corduroy overalls for playtime, Halloween costumes, even my prom dress was made by my mom. When my mom was a single career girl in New York, she sewed the majority of her office fashion (and even made a patchwork bedspread from the remnants that I use to this very day). Though my mom tried very hard to teach me how to sew, I mainly use my sewing machine for repairs and simple crafts. However, I am so inspired by those who use their sewing skills to hone their personal style, and make fashion work for their figure and budget. When I consider a blog like that, I immediately think of Erica B.’s D.IY. Style, where the talented Erica Bunker has blogged her sewing skill and personal style for almost eight years. And since I found Erica’s blog many years ago, I have been a fan and found her to be creative, talented, inspiring, chic, and a True Fashionista.

“How many times have you seen clothes in an upscale department store or a posh boutique and cringed at the sight of the price tag?” asks Erica Bunker on her blog. She caught herself saying to herself, “I could make that!” and so she does, recreating popular trends and silhouettes and providing tips on how she customizes the patterns to fit her body and looks on the runways.

“What’s point of sewing if you can’t make it your own?”
                  Erica Bunker

I love how Erica shares where she gets her inspiration, be it yellow for spring, the current Balenciaga print ads, something she saw on Pinterest, or a pair of Tibi trousers that she saw on the runway during Birmingham Fashion Week. She goes into her thought process, how she alters the style, the pattern, why she chooses the colors, the notions, the linings and how she would change it if she used the pattern again.

Erica is proof that you don’t need to have a designer budget to dress in a designer manner. She shows what we hear time and time again – a custom tailored fit will increase the style of a piece and make it look more expensive. She learns from her projects, knows her body, her personal style and how to dress for her here and now. She knows fashion, design, and designers and how to interpret them and learn from them.

Erica’s talent and style is inspiring and awesome, she’s has been a regular in my blog reader for years and I am so honored to have her part of my True Fashionista series. I asked Erica to answer the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I’d describe my style as colorfully classic, feminine (but not girlie) yet current. I love classic pieces in bright hues and pieces that are cyclical. I know that when I invest the time into tailoring a jacket or a coat, I’m going to wear it for the next 10+ years. But I also love mixing in current trendy pieces.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My passion for fashion began when I was a little girl. My favorite day was Sunday. That was the day I could get all dressed up for church. Those frilly dresses and patent leather Mary Janes were everything!

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I live for Pinterest, street style and personal style blogs. I’m not so much into watching what celebrities are wearing. I’m inspired by the way regular ladies pull an outfit together without a stylist and a glam squad.


What is the difference between fashion and style?
Great question! I feel fashion relates more to buying the trends and labels. Style is how you put it all together and wear it. Style sets you apart from everyone else.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
The advice I’d give is to step outside of your comfort zone. Try things you’ve never worn before. Add color to your wardrobe. Just go to a store or boutique and try on and take pictures. Take your time and build your wardrobe, you don’t have to do it over night. Read blogs! Find someone whose style you love and follow them.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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True Fashionista: Cynthia

I’m kinda glad that Google Reader is disappearing. I had been neglecting it for a long while and with the news, I decided to find a new subscription tool (Feedly, which has an awesome app and plug-in for Firefox) and with it, have been reading blogs more regularly. It reminded me that there’s a heck of a lot of awesome blogs I follow, bloggers who inspire me and consistently have fun and fabulous fashion. And one of those who I have reunited with thanks to Feedly is the awesome Cynthia of Simply Cyn.

If Cynthia looks familiar to you, you may remember her blog with the old name, Addicted2Etsy. While Cynthia is still a big fan of that site and features sellers and products from it regularly, her blog showcases her personal style, as well as peeks into her personal tastes and lifestyle. Her music mentions thrill me because I often learn about new artists that I too end up loving. Her hair is amazing and she regularly writes about how she cares for it. She does reviews of fashion and décor trends and beauty products without it being overkill and they always fit her clean, bright, fun and spirited aesthetic.

And Cynthia’s personal style? Just as stated above, it’s bright, fun, and spirited. She can pattern mix like the best, but always does it in a clean, thoughtful manner. You can see her personality and lifestyle through her clothing choices, be it a vintage Coach bag from Etsy, a band tee shirt, or a pair of sandals she picked up on a trip to Barcelona.

Cynthia can rock color and bold prints without it feeling costumey. She has a good eye for proportion, balancing voluminous blouses with skinny jeans and knowing the right hem length to flatter her figure. She shops at budget-friendly shops but looks like a million bucks with her creative styling and pairing. I love how her hair is constantly changing, switching up the look of re-worn pieces and giving a whole new effect to her personal style. And her smile – gosh it’s refreshing to see a big happy smile in a sea of duck lips and pouts!

Simply Cyn is a blog I always look forward to showing up in my reader; Cynthia is positive, creative, and inspiring. I was thrilled that she was willing to be part of my True Fashionista series. I asked Cynthia to answer the same five questions I ask of each True Fashionista; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I think my personal style is about being chic but with a healthy dose of ease and comfort. There was a time I would try anything that was fashionable but I learned that I feel most beautiful and get the most positive response from people when I wear something that I am truly comfortable in. Being comfortable in your clothes and in your skin really comes across. It’s about confidence.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My mum was always a top notch dresser. I grew up in Cameroon, West Africa and my mum actually owned a tailoring shop. I would hang out there with the tailors and watch them work and watch my mum give out instructions. I think that’s where I started really liking clothes and patterns and different designs. It wasn’t however until later that I realized how that fashion is not shallow, at least it doesn’t have to be. It can really help on a crap day, the saying that when you look good, you feel good.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
A few years back it would have been mostly magazines, but now it’s definitely from other bloggers and living in NYC, its the ladies & gents on the street and on the train.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is temporary, style is forever.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Experiment. Its harder in the beginning, but if you don’t try, you won’t figure it out. Grab something you wouldn’t normally wear, pair pieces you don’t think go together. Be adventurous. You might be surprised what you discover.

***

The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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True Fashionista: Vivi

It’s not easy to shop when you’re not built like a mannequin. A couple hours in a shopping mall can really destroy a woman’s self-esteem and cause her to hate all fashion. I have mad respect for those who see the fun challenge in fashion, have that desire to prove that everyone can and deserves to look and feel amazing in clothes. I try to prove that myself, but I get a lot of my motivation from my fellow bloggers. One blogger I constantly find positive, creative, and inspiring is the effervescent Vivi from the blog Heart, Print & Style and this is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

If Vivi looks familiar to you, it’s because I previously featured her and her great style. Vivi has amazing thrifting skills, and is able to find the most unique, chic, and flattering pieces in our local second-hand shops. And yes, I wrote we, because Vivi lives in the same town I do. We met at a CapFABB event and have been buddies ever since. Vivi has been trying to get me to go thrifting with her and a quick glance at her blog will show it would be in my best interest to do so. Now that I am paring down on blogging,I may have a chance this spring to experience Vivi’s expert thrifting first-hand!

What’s so great about Vivi, other than her knowing herself, her figure, and her life so well and expressing it through her fashion choices, is how nice she is. In the blogosphere, there’s a lot of frenemies, faux buddies, and outfor-herselfers; in DC I have found quite the opposite and Vivi is one of the very sweetest I have met. She believe in the blogging community, supports her peers, and enjoys the entire social portion of blogging. Oh, and her tweets make me giggle out loud on a regular basis and I also enjoy following her on Instagram and Facebook.

Through her fashion, the commentary on her blog, and her in-person self, Vivi expresses happiness, individuality, and style. I’m honored to call her a friend, and honored that she was willing to share some of her thoughts on fashion and style. I asked Vivi the same five questions I ask each True Fashionista; here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple and subtle. It may not be the loudest style nor the trendiest (and I don’t mark myself as a trendy person) but there is just something there, y’know?

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
Early on. Growing up, I was really into drawing and creating outfits. Imaginative. Visual. Still am, really. Anywho, my brother and sister would be playing outside and calling me to play with them. And I’m like, nope. I’d rather be reading or drawing/creating outfits. I remember back when I was, like, 10 years old knowing that a sweetheart neckline looked great on me. I blame hitting puberty early.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Blogs, blogs and more blogs. With a bit of InStyle and People Style Watch mixed in. Folks on the street aka people watching. Also, at times, music videos and TV shows.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is what you see on scripted TV shows, movies, and/or magazines. Style is what you take from the fashion you see and making it your own. And there are some (truly lucky) folks out there that do not even pay attention to what the fashion industry says and yet still have a great sense of style. You either have it or you don’t.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Just know what works best for you. Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying something new or following the latest trends. Just know that if you do not feel comfortable with what you’re wearing, it shows. If you look like you’re trying way too hard with an outfit, it shows. Also, I’m a huge lover of accessories. Sometimes, accessories say more about your style than the actual clothing. So start from there and work your look around the accessories.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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True Fashionista: Nancy

Blogger Fashion Trends. They do exist. There’s just some styles that bloggers latch on to, and the trend grows like wildfire. Some, I could do without, but many are so popular because they are just so darn wearable on many different shapes and ages of women, and adaptable on varying clothing budgets. While these trends are rampant across the blogosphere, I rarely find one who wears them in an inspiring way, a way that still shows the woman’s personality, who makes me feel that she truly dresses this way every day, and not just for her blog or because she is a blogger. Those who can adapt the popular trends in a manner that is true to their personal style and taking into account their figure, lifestyle, and budget… they inspire me. Nancy from Adore to Adorn is one of those very women, and that is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Pattern mixing, daytime sequins, Karen Walker sunnies, arm parties, the half tuck, the fur snood, that covetable 3.1 Phillip Lim bag… Nancy wears them, but they don’t wear her. It’s not a costume, these trends are done in a relaxed, realistic manner that makes me give the trends a second chance. Like me, Nancy loves to mix prints with stripes, and does it with ease, be it polka-dot tights or camo-print skinnies. She carefully uses color to add accent and not look like a bag of Skittles, and I adore seeing her re-wear pieces proving that the clothes are a purposeful part of her wardrobe and not just for pageviews.

One of my favorite parts of Adore to Adorn is Nancy’s Wednesday Whim series, where she shares art installations, inspiring photography and graphic design. In these posts, she provides not only context for the images, but her opinion of the art. I believe that fashion is a form of art, and love the marriage of the two on a blog. Sharing art that inspires her also helps understand Nancy’s thought process behind her own personal style, giving it depth and having her stand out in the personal style blogosphere.

Nancy of Adore to Adorn is as friendly and down to earth as she seems in her posts (hooray for another smiling blogger!); I was happy she was willing to be part of this series and asked her to answer the same five questions I have asked of all the True Fashionista; her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I’m so inspired by different types of style that I dress like it too. I’m very eclectic in how I approach things. I love color and patterns as much as I love neutrals and minimalistic style.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
As I look back at my evolution in style I would have to credit my fashion to my mom. She loved to dress me up as a kid but I was such a “tomboy” that I just rolled my eyes at it. But, as I grew into my teenage years, I appreciated more of what she loved and what she had.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Nowadays, I love looking at blogs and just people walking around everyday for everyday, street style. People have such a great sense and it’s more acceptable to display your personality than ever before. I also still love perusing good ol’ fashioned magazines for incredible high fashion and styling inspiration.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
For me, fashion is the industry and style is individualized. Everyone can have their own sense of style and maybe not everyone agrees with it, but that is what is so alluring about it.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
For anyone trying to find out what works for her the important thing to remember is everything is trial and error. You won’t know what pieces work well on you unless you try it out. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t have thought looked good and I was surprised they did and likewise, there were things I thought would work on me and didn’t. As I’ve gotten older, I have figured out more about my body and what fits well when it comes to clothes. I’m also realizing “never say never” when it comes to clothes. I think the same can be said for people finding their personal style. =)

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!


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True Fashionista: Buki

Style seems to attract style, at least it seems that way here in DC. Through my stylish friend Alison I met the ever-chic Chelsea, though Chelsea I met the fashionable Rosana, and through Rosana I found Buki’s blog James1542. I loved her positive outlook, spunky style, and true knowledge of fashion and her personal style. Not only does she look fabulous in clothes, she designs and makes many of them! Because of this, I asked Buki to be part of my True Fashionista series.

While James1542 is primarily a personal style blog, Buki often discusses trips, home décor, and food. It’s surely what one would call a style blog for you can understand Buki’s personal style clearly through her posts. I love the little style tips she has at the end of each post. Each one is realistic, possible, and can add a touch of flair or style without much effort or money. She also is quite creative with her wardrobe, be it making a rice bag into a purse or belting a thrifted skirt and transforming it into a top. Buki doesn’t have a ginormous wardrobe, and it’s fun to see how she re-wears different pieces in different ways, giving them new lives.  She proves that you don’t need a lot of clothes to have a lot of style.

Buki’s positivity is infectious. She’s so grateful for her readers, sees the bright side of every situation, and isn’t afraid to grin from ear to ear in her outfit posts. Her smile is such a welcome change in a sea of serious-faced fashion bloggers and while Buki is expert in accessorizing, her best accessory is that wonderful smile. Her Grateful Four series is a non-materialistic twist on a popular blogger feature and often reminds me to see the good and the beautiful in the everyday. I also love how she blends Nigerian Ankara with current trends, thrifted goodies, and mall staples. She truly is a definition of personal style.

As with every True Fashionista, I asked Buki the same five questions; here are her answers.

How would you describe your personal style?
A Classic twist: I enjoy mixing tailored pieces with feminine silhouettes in textured fabrics and bold prints.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I’d have to say, from my mother. She has impeccable taste so at young age, I enjoyed playing dress up in her closet with my and going with her to local tailors as she designed custom clothing.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I get inspired by observing life in general: people, places and events inspire my style. I absolutely love to travel locally and globally. Experiencing new textures in food, different moods created by local musicians and unique colors and patterns in the artwork of different cultures fill my mind with ideas to interpret into my wardrobe!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion consists of curated items offered to the public seasonally while style is one’s translation and personalization of those curated items.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
First of all start with your greatest asset, Self Confidence. Then experiment with different silhouettes and trends to see what suits your figure and personality best.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Monique

Fashion doesn’t have to be complicated. While it’s fun to see the creative and outlandish fashions on many blogs, it’s equally inspiring to find someone who has mastered the art of simplicity. Someone who realizes that a whisper may be more powerful than a scream. An edited closet, good tailoring, knowing her shape and lifestyle and dressing for it is a talent, and one of the many talents of Monique, the woman behind the blog Tipa Tipa. Monique’s perfect, simple, and easy vintage style inspires me on a regular basis, and that is why I asked her to be part of my True Fashionista series.

Style doesn’t come from quantity, but quality. Quality doesn’t have to mean designer labels, cashmere and silk, or high pricetags. Quality is not only in the construction of a piece, but it’s value to your wardrobe and personal style. Monique masterfully mixes vintage, thrifted gems, gifts from friends, and pieces from wallet-friendly chain store. She knows that any piece right off the rack (be it in the mall or the neighborhood thrift shop) rarely fits well and understands the importance of a tailor. What makes her wardrobe so perfect is how it perfectly fits her. Proper tailoring can make a $5 thrift store find look like a million bucks. In fact, Monique admits that her tailor was one of the first to know that she was expecting. I look forward to seeing more of Monique’s maternity fashion.

Tipa Tipa isn’t just about Monique’s personal style. She has an awesome feature – Film Fridays, where she delves into movies she has recently seen, providing images, trailers, quotes, and her personal opinion. Monique also regularly features different artists she likes or recipes she and her husband Josh have whipped up. Monique’s personal style is clearly seen through these sorts of posts as well – elegant simplicity, focusing on the personal and the detail, again showing that a whisper can more powerful than a scream. Tipa Tipa is like a cool breeze – calming, refreshing, a reminder that there is beauty in the small things.

As with every other True Fashionista in this series, I asked Monique to answer the same five questions. Here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as vintage, urban, feminine with a sprinkle of preppy.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My passion for fashion, certainly comes from my mom and older sister. As a little girl, I remember every evening my mother would set out two outfits. She would ask me which one I thought was the better outfit. I would tell her my opinion and sometimes we’d mix and match the outfits to come up with one really good one. This evening ritual gave me a good sense of how to pair colors and decide what shoes are more flattering for a particular look. My sister who’s three years older than I am would take me thrifting in the West Village back in the 90’s when there were loads of great affordable thrift shops. She would pick up pieces that I would have certainly overlooked and then style them perfectly. She certainly nurtured the skill of finding treasures in heaps of second hand clothing.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I live and work in Brooklyn, NYC. I am really inspired by the people around me. On the train or bike rides, I enjoy checking out how people put together their outfits.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I see fashion as the umbrella that encompasses a variety of style.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
The key to finding one’s personal style is to figure out the dress cut that’s most flattering for one’s body and the colors that best compliment one’s skin tone. It’s important to appreciate and love your body. It’s also great to have fun exploring and being open minded when it comes to figuring out what works best. Finding one’s personal style doesn’t mean spending a lot of money, but building a wardrobe of pieces that look and feel fabulous. 

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments you never know she may end up being featured!

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True Fashionista: Bianca

The other day I was chatting with my friend Alison and we were discussing menswear. While she can totally pull it off, I find it looks costumey on me and that I can’t carry it off with my curvy frame. And as soon as I said that, I thought of Bianca. Bianca isn’t built like Katherine Hepburn yet carries off the menswear look so beautifully and oh so effortlessly. She knows what she likes, has a defined style aesthetic, and that is why I consider Bianca a True Fashionista.

Bianca is the author of the blog Avant Blargh, where she shares her thoughts on fashion and photographs of her personal style. Self described as living, “in a world between gamine and grandma,” Bianca has a defined personal style of cropped trousers, blazers, a hint of the ‘80s, hint of Leisure World, splash of city life and a good dollop of vintage and thrifted finds. This unusual mishmash completely works, giving Bianca a look that is menswear with a feminine touch as well as a look that is completely unique and endearing.

While Avant Blargh is primarily photos, her bit of text adds depth to her ensembles, understanding where she came from in creating the look. She often references pop culture that influences her style, be it Woody Allen films, Family Ties, or the style of the eldest Huxtable daughter. She discusses how her personal style is evolving – how it’s becoming more granny-chic than avant garde, how she’s playing with silhouettes of jackets. It’s refreshing to read the honest mindset behind the ensembles on a fashion blog and to read how one analyzes her look.

Bianca is proof that you don’t need a ton of clothing or a bunch of new pieces to have a defined personal style. Be it a sweater she finds in her mom’s basement, thrifted shoes, or a new jacket from American Apparel, Bianca adds to her wardrobe with thought not just to the look, but how it works with her current closet as well as her budget. She doesn’t shop willy-nilly, and thinks about her personal style before adding to her collection. She keeps her look fun and fresh with personal touches such as her hair, glasses, and jewelry.

Bianca inspires me because she is so true to her personal style, she has a great look without spending an arm and a leg, and breaks all the rules and makes fashion work for her, not the other way around. As with every other True Fashionista I asked Bianca the same five questions; here are her answers.

How would you describe your personal style?
Oatmeal, no really. Something old fashioned but substantial. You can dress it up, or have it plain, but it all starts with the classics.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My mother works in the industry so I think it stemmed from there. That and my love for pop culture.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Almost any movie with Diane Keaton, ’70s music, and the Huxtable sisters.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is a way of doing things while style makes it your own. Fashion says color-blocking is hot, style says I’m going to color block bright yellow from a Paddington bear style raincoat to yellow Target tights!

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Remember the joy of getting dressed when you were a child dressing yourself for the first time, nobody dictated to you how, you just did. Dress to make yourself feel happy whether or not it’s considered “trendy” at the end of the day, you have to make yourself happy.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Stephanie

Sometimes you come across a blog that has a style completely different from your own but still you find it incredibly inspiring. So inspiring, you think of it often, and though you don’t wish to replicate her style, it affects how you shop, and how you think about clothing. That’s how I feel about Stephanie Hoff Clayton of Odyssey Home.

I originally found Stephanie’s blog a bit ago when she had a separate personal style blog and was amazed by her carefully edited style. She focuses on shapes, drape, and silhouettes more than separates. Her wardrobe is primarily black which better showcases the architecture of the clothing. Graphic, modern, clean, unique – all words I would use to describe Stephanie’s personal style.

But Stephanie is not a just fashion blogger, but an artist. Her fashion is just one way of expressing her art. Stephanie states on her personal site, “I am concerned with structure, texture, imperfection and, ultimately, the order of things seen and unseen.” While this is seen through her encaustic paintings, pastels, and watercolors, it is also seen on her blog Odyssey Home via her fashion choices and interest in home decor and design.

Stephanie inspires me to purchase quality, not quantity.  I regularly see her wear the same pieces again and again yet they always look new and different thanks to how she styles them.  She also reminds me that black and other neutrals do not have to be boring if you focus on cut, shape, and how you accessorize.  It’s amazing how, as you can see above, a different color of lipstick will completely transform Stephanie’s look – proof that details matter and are what takes clothing from being separates to an ensemble.

Since Stephanie began recording her ensembles in 2010, I have seen her develop her personal style.  While it has always been graphic, clean, and beautiful in its simplicity, she has honed it and become even more personal and quite avant garde.  I love going to her blog and seeing a new change of hair, a new lipstick, a new purchase become a favorite and a signature piece.  I also love how she makes her outfit pictures works of art, using her body to display the shape of the garment, or to add drama to the ensemble.  To me, Stephanie is the epitome of a True Fashionista; I was honored that she was willing to be a part of this series.  Here’s her take on the same five questions I ask each True Fashionista:

How would you describe your personal style?
Dark, casual elegance that is subtly avant garde. Minimal, consistent, wearable.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I have always been interested in design. I studied fashion at university (then later, art and art history). I now work in the visual arts and am highly sensitive to aesthetics.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
Probably everywhere – in architecture, nature, art, other blogs. Concrete ideas come from my head; then I seek specific pieces for my wardrobe that fit my ideologies.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is wavering, influenced by the winds of change. Fashion is cyclical. Style is personal taste that evolves over time. To be stylish is to know yourself, be consistent and have a keen eye.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Think before buying. Be true to yourself. Grow as a person. Live life.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Catie

Today’s True Fashionista is Catie Nienaber – blogger, writer, business owner, and lover of vintage fashion.  When I thought of the True Fashionista series, I knew I had to include her.  I have seen her personal style develop over the years, and knew others would find it as inspiring as I do.

Catie is another “old school” blogger friend – we’ve both been at it since around 2005, and I think I have been reading her blog, Cuffington for almost that long.  I’ll admit while preparing this post, I spent over an hour scrolling through Catie’s blog archives, trying to find when exactly I started reading her blog.  I saw many posts that I remembered (and gems like this), but realized I must have been quite a lurker for I couldn’t find a comment until October 2007, where I admitted that I too was a fan of Jonathan Adler and Valley of the Dolls.

In 2006 Catie was already shooting and blogging about street fashion, in 2007 she was blogging about Coco Rocha and having BryanBoy comment on her blog. Catie has always been ahead of the times.  Her blog appealed to me because she effortlessly mixed fashion history, pop culture, street fashion, and her own personal style.  Others also have loved what they found on her blog, for she has been featured on sites such as Style.com and Street Peeper and is a regular contributor for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Not only is Catie a stylish woman and skilled writer, but she also runs Dronning Vintage, her own shop for vintage fashion (also check out the blog for Dronning Vintage!).  Catie has a passion for quality fashion with history; this shows in her carefully curated collection of pieces in her online boutique.  As with the other True Fashionistas, I asked Catie to answer five questions for me on personal style.

How would you describe your personal style?
A whimsical, light-hearted mix of color, vintage, and modern pieces.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
It grew organically over a period of several years, but if I had to pick one moment where the light was turned on, it would have been when I visited the Museum of Costume in Bath, England in 2001. My eyes were opened that day, and I’ve never been the same.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I like looking at old (1930s – 1950s, in color) catalogues and magazines, if not for the way vintage clothes were styled, but also for the exciting ways colors and patterns were combined. Because that’s something that can transcend eras. I also love street style photos taken during fashion week, those are the high holy days. Some people see shots from that time of year as stunt dressing for the cameras, but I often find it’s when you see some of the most interesting stuff. I mean, as long as it’s not a head-to-toe regurgitation of a runway look, you’ve got my attention.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I see fashion as the literal manifestation of change, the urge to constantly be new and to transform. Style is more like the tangible piece of all of that that is relevant to you and your body, your budget, your time and place in the world. Fashion is the industry. Style is what you throw on your back.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Understand that it takes work! You will have to try on so much stuff (and I don’t just mean jeans), especially at the beginning, in order to cultivate a consciousness of what flatters you and what you love. And no matter how finely honed you think your taste is, there’s always room to learn something new.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Ariel

When I try to make personal style make sense to others, I often compare it to art. Fashion is a form of art, just a different medium, and many designers are inspired by art. You can admire Monet’s work without wanting to hang it on your wall, you can see the skill in a Renoir without him being your favorite painter… the same holds true for fashion and trends. And a good way to know what you like in regard to colors, textures, and silhouettes is to look at what appeals to you with art. Art and fashion truly go hand in hand, and so when I found Ariel Maile Adkinsfashion blog I fell in love.

“‘One should either be a work of Art, or wear a work of Art.’ This quote from Oscar Wilde describes my life’s pursuit–to express my artistic obsession from head to shoes.”
     – Ariel Maile Adkins

Ariel is the blogger behind Artfully Aware, one of the most addictive fashion blogs I have encountered over the years. Ariel uses works of art to inspire her outfits, and with each post is a mini art history lesson on the piece and the artist. I love when I see a new post and try to guess the artist just on her outfit.

“When in need of inspiration, I usually turn to an art book before a fashion magazine, because there are so many ways to interpret art via clothing, and I am able to combine the two things that I love!”
     – Ariel Maile Adkins (source)

Ariel wrote her thesis on “Clothing as a Cultural Medium in Contemporary Art,” (source) and attended FIT; her expertise in this subject shines in every blog post, and how she effortlessly connects her daily ensemble to her passion for art. She helps me see more not only into the clothes I choose to purchase or wear, but the art I love (and the artists I didn’t know of and now love and/or respect).

Not only does Ariel have an amazing mind full of art and art history, but she has such a zest for life. Her pictures show not only her creative and fabulous style, but her spirit and enthusiasm for life. She’d rather have a picture of her twirling with hair in her face than one of her posed just show to flatter her figure. By doing this, the clothes and Ariel look even more fabulous and draw you into Artfully Aware.

Ariel is a True Fashionista, a woman who wears fashion and never lets it wear her, who sees fashion as a way to express herself and her interests. She knows her body, her mind, her heart and chooses fashion to represent it properly. As with all other True Fashionistas, I asked Ariel to answer the same five questions, here are her answers.

How would you describe your personal style? 
The most important thing to me is expressing my love for art through what I wear. Bright colors, prints, embellishments, structural details: these are all things that I wear that reflect my appreciation for art. 

Where did you get your passion for fashion? 
My mother had a beautiful sense of style which was based on her understanding of color and form as an artist. She encouraged me to express myself artistically and ultimately inspired me to do so through what I wear.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration? 
I try to surround myself with visually compelling things; namely art of all different media, genres, and eras. I maintain inspiration by seeking out as much art as possible in my daily life; by visiting museums and galleries, reading books and blogs, and absorbing what I see on the street.

What is the difference between fashion and style? 
Fashion is determined by trends, i.e. what is “in vogue”. Style is a reflection of oneself. 

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style? 
Determine what inspires you the most and try to find a way to translate that enthusiasm into your wardrobe.

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style. Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion. These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you. Stay tuned, there will be a featured True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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True Fashionista: Erin

Sometimes you meet someone through blogging and wish you lived closer to them. You know that if miles didn’t separate the two of you, you’d be spending a lot of time together – maybe some shopping, maybe some drinking, and probably a lot of laughing. That’s how I feel about Erin from the blog Work With What You’ve Got. I’ve been reading her blog for many years and love her unique style, her sense of humor, her taste in music, and her relaxed confidence.

Erin proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look fabulous. She mixes vintage, discount big box retailers, and higher end pieces with ease. She is totally aware of her personal style, and somehow can make a Target piece I myself own look super chic, funky, and cool. She is one of the few people I know who can truly rock lingerie and loungewear as street style, and she has a great eye for jewelry (she has her own line called Love Erin Designs).

Erin’s style inspires me to think outside the box. She does a great job of mixing tough rocker chic with softer feminine pieces, and can make pieces I would pass by in a thrift store look modern and fresh. She also makes me wish I never tossed any of my concert tee shirts from high school. Erin’s personal style exudes confidence, has that important hint of humor, and is completely Erin; when I thought of this True Fashionista series, I knew I had to include her.

Here’s Erin’s take on the same five questions I ask each True Fashionista.

How would you describe your personal style?
A little bit thrift, a little bit Bohemian a little bit rock and roll.
My favorite things are leather, silk and sterling silver.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I’m surrounded by artists. Some of them are musicians, some are painters, some stylists or photographers, but they have all found a way to express themselves. It inspires me to do the same. I have never been a rule breaker but I discovered a long time ago I get a thrill from bending (if not breaking!) the rules of fashion. I’m over 35, and I still wear my short shorts and leather ankle boots. I don’t care that over 35s “shouldn’t” wear short shorts or mini skirts. I feel happy, I feel free when I wear them, so I will wear them as long as they make me feel that way.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
My best girl, Stevie, the girls at live music shows and of course, the internet at large. I love Free People’s social media and I get my fix from their amazing instagram, tumblr and blog accounts. They are a very inspiring brand to me.

What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion is what we are told is hot right now. Style is how we wear it now and for years to come. Style is the “you” element to your look. Its the personality, the fun.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Stop saying “I could never get away with that”, and “I love it on you but it would look so dumb on me”. You want to wear it? Wear it! In the words of the sage and talented Wendy Brandes, Wear What you Want

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The purpose of the Friday True Fashionista series is to show women who use clothing to express their personal style.  Each woman has a different, unique look and opinion on clothing and fashion.  These women inspire me in my clothing choices, and possibly their bold sartorial statements will inspire you.  Stay tuned, there will be a featured  True Fashionista every Friday for the next few weeks. And if you know of a True Fashionista in your life, tell us about her in the comments!

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