Photo by Susan Toohy

I think I’ve always had a “sense of style”, meaning understanding what I want to tell the world about myself through my clothes and my home; having an appreciation of the principles and elements of design; and striving to be ahead of the trend rather than “on trend” (looking for those pieces that are just this side of what everyone else has). I was pretty obstinate about my “sense of style” from the very beginning. My mom tells stories of stand offs in the dressing room, at age five, over what she wanted me to wear, and what I wanted to wear. I distinctly remember a battle over a sweet pair of wood soled platform sandals with a hole cut in the heel. Thank the style gods I was stubborn enough to get my way. In high school, at the height of eighties fashion, I opted for the “vintage” look, rather than the “flash dance” look. I even went so far as to put not only pennies in my loafers, but one dime in the left one.

I didn’t have much of a chance in dodging the style bullet. Both of my parents have always been very style conscious throughout their lives, so it has naturally filtered into my consciousness. Their formative years had been in the early to mid-1950’s (which may explain some of my style aesthetic), and they were very much into being on the cutting edge of fashion. My mother, in the early 1950’s spent $20 on ONE pair of squared toed pumps (pretty much the equivalent of splurging on the latest Manolo Blaniks today), while my father dressed in porkpie hats, buckskin shoes, and black flannel suits.

Since, as a kid, I owned a Barbie sewing machine (of course, I made her clothes, because she’s so awesome!), and had something called “Fashion Plates” (with which you could “sketch” different outfits), it was a natural progression to study apparel design in college (I like to say apparel design, because it sounds more serious than fashion design 😉 ). It was a great experience, and I learned a ton about clothing construction and the principles and elements of design.

Over the (sigh..) many years, I’ve learned that personal style evolves throughout our lives. It is shaped by people, places, experiences, or pop culture. In my 20’s, I tended to have young, implusive taste toward the kitchy/trendy. But, as money and responsibility has become a larger priority, I’ve focused more on classic basics and investment pieces.

As my own personal style continues to grow and change, I’d like to share with you my thoughts on developing style whether in fashion, interior design, or entertaining, that is uniquely you.

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