True Fashionista: Interview with Katherine Martinez

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February 2011, I attended my first blogger event. A few fashion and beauty bloggers in the DC area decided to get together for cocktails and brainstorming. Thanks to that happy hour, I got to know Katherine Martinez, blogger, business owner, designer, and True Fashionista.

jacket 2

Katherine always amazes me when I see her – she will take the item I will laugh at on the racks at the thrift store and see the beauty in it. She will rework it, accessorize it, pair it with unexpected pieces and bring out the garment’s beauty. She is able to take those Jessica McClintock granny dresses I wore in middle school and make them look badass with chunky shoes, studded accessories, and a DIY asymmetrical hem.

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Katherine shares her incredible eye for style and vintage with Co-Creative Director Ashley Turchin at their shop La Petite Marmoset. They have a boutique here in DC, an Etsy shop, and have their pieces sold at some of the coolest shops in the DMV.


As soon as I thought of this True Fashionista series for the blog, I thought of Katherine. She knows herself, her style, and wears clothes, no matter how crazy or strange, without them wearing her. Not only is she creative, talented, and stylish, but she is one of the warmest and nicest people I have met in the DC fashion scene.  Her smile lights a room and she's always a blast to spend time with.  I asked her the same five questions I will be asking of all True Fashionistas in this series, here are her answers:

How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe it as (it is now cliché to call this a cliché) eclectic– I like to mix vintage pieces with modern basics. I tend to gravitate towards things that are what I like to call “beautifully ugly”— that is, at first glance, your reaction might be, “Who ever thought it was a good idea to wear that thing?” Beaded, fringed, leather, sequined, and bright are always on my mental checklist when hunting for vintage.

Where did you get your passion for fashion?
My mom says that from the time I was little when we went shopping I knew exactly what I wanted, despite her efforts to put me in turtlenecks and jeans. My abuelita and other women on my dad's side of the family all are creative and like to sew, so that helped grow my love for DIY fashion.

Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
All over the place! I follow many blogs and am always checking my favorite online stores to see what vintage pieces can translate to those looks— I also am inspired by old movies and ad campaigns. Musicals from the ‘40s and ‘50s are my favorites because the costumes were so over the top!

What is the difference between fashion and style?
I think fashion is something that is fleeting, changing by the minute (in today's online world it seems like by the second), and something that, with enough money, anyone can purchase. I think money can't buy style— style is more personal and depends on the individual. Style is what makes the same designer top look gaudy on one A-list celebrity but effortlessly chic on another.

Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her personal style?
Find pieces that work for your body— once you know what works, experiment away with colors, prints, and fabrics! Look for inspiration online, but put your own spin on it. I think the biggest mistake people make is getting discouraged when the latest trend doesn't look good on them– having a solid foundation in knowing what basic pieces make you look and feel your best can allow you to seamlessly incorporate new elements 🙂

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I really like the first look! No disrespect to any of our members of the Army. I would like the look even if the jacket was a different color. Thanks for doing this series.

  2. Thank you Alison for doing this series, Katherine is quite a creative soul. I cannot wait to see the other individuals you have chosen.

  3. I clicked over to her blog and found that the title of her post was “going to war.” Really? As a retired Army officer, I think she’s being disrespectful by wearing a part of a Battle Dress Uniform in this way. And, no, it’s not a “camo print fatigue” uniform, as she describes it. Sorry to be crabby about it but my father, brothers and husband all served in combat zones wearing this or an earlier version of the uniform, and it pains me to see someone treating it as a fashion accessory.

    1. I don’t think most people perusing a thrift store know the history behind what they find. Be it a piece of a military uniform, religious garb, or cultural costumes from other countries, a thrift store shopper sees it just as a piece of clothing. I doubt this young woman realizes all these details you provided; instead of getting angry it would make more sense to put your energy towards educating others. I myself had a father and brother both in the Army and I didn’t know this; in college I used to wear my father’s dog tags and jacket and never thought twice about it (nor did he or any other person I encountered). One cannot be angry at those who are not educated.

    2. I too dislike the BDU jacket outfit. My husband is active duty military and I can’t get past the actual uniform to see fashion. For me, pieces of the uniform are different from wearing something in a “camo print,” but then again I see the uniform 7 days a week and understand the purpose behind it.
      Moving on. Sadly, I’m not wowed by any of her outfits. They may be “her” and “her style,” but they are so different from me and my tastes that I can’t even relate to them as fashion. They just look too chaotic to me. But then I’m not a high fashion gal either.

      1. Stay tuned, each “True Fashionista” has a completely different personal style. The purpose of this series is to see that there is more than what is in the window of the department store, and that clothng can work with and not against you. I’ll have a different woman featured every Friday at least through October, but possibly through the rest of the year! 🙂

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