This series is called “Fashion Philosophies and Where to Find Them.” After spending time in many corners of the world, I constantly come back to how amazed I am at people’s ability to express themselves through something as simple as the fabric they wear. My contributors come from all over the world, and this is how they have shaped their own personal style as it relates to their identity.
There are few things I love more than new clothes. I’ve been that way my entire life. Growing up in the South, there is some strange obsession with appearance and looking your best all the time. The Southern woman tradition is rooted in pearls, seersucker and smocking. I wore lace socks and a big bow to my sixth grade graduation. I never wore pants to church, and I had a new outfit for almost every holiday and special occasion.
When I moved to Baltimore, the style seemed so backward. It’s like it wasn’t a priority at all. Now, after living in Washington for the last eight years, the trends here are so different from what I grew up wearing.
Back to My Roots
My love for fashion started early, and I believe I was directly influenced by my Auntie Kathe. She lived in California–a completely different style than I had ever seen. When I was in elementary school, she started making me clothes, buying me really abstract/unique pieces and sending them to me in a huge box a few weeks before school started. It was my favorite time of year because I knew there would not be a single person that had what I was going to wear.
I always wanted to look different, and I never really worried about what anyone else thought of my clothes. (Side note: once I got to high school, I learned that my friends also looked forward to the first day of school because they couldn’t wait to see what I would wear! I call that a success!)
My summers were spent watching TLC’s “What Not to Wear.” I practically worshipped Stacy London and loved putting together looks for my friends and family. As I got older, I worked at both Buckle and Cache, allowing my love for fashion and fashion merchandising to grow.
My Fashion Philosophy
Now that I’m an adult, a wife and a mom in my 30s, my style has evolved and morphed into something I am really proud of. I’ve been cultivating and streamlining my preferences and philosophy for a while based on career, practicality and trend.
I live by the motto “Clothes make the man.” Obviously I don’t believe that material things are the most important, but what I wear is important to me. My clothes say “hello” before I do. Before I even introduce myself, shake your hand or hear your voice, what I’m wearing has already done the introduction and given you an impression of me, whether I like what it has to say or not. That’s why I pay close attention to what I put on for every occasion.
Here are some general rules of thumb for my style.
- My clothes don’t have stains and rips.
- Tears are strategically placed.
- I use an iron and wear a belt.
- My shoes are clean, and my socks always match.
- I don’t show my bra straps, and
- I DO NOT WEAR LEGGINGS IN PUBLIC.
- I buy shoes that I can walk in.
- I do not own a single pair of backless shoes, (save for Birkenstocks).
I know, I know. This seems uptight.
I sound like I’m walking into a boardroom executive meeting.
But hear me out.
I like being prepared. I’d rather turn down a lunch meeting than show up looking like a slob. I want to make sure if I run into someone I know (or have the opportunity to meet someone of influence), I don’t look like I just rolled out of bed.
Living out this philosophy has made me feel confident in any setting. Even if I don’t know what is going on around me, I look the part.
But let’s be real. It’s not always glamorous. I’m sitting in a Starbucks in a sweater, ripped jeans and high top Converse.
But still, what I am wearing today is comfortable to me. I feel confident and put together.
My Style Evolution: Classic, with a Twist of Lime
I like to say that I peaked in the age of emo. (Funny how music plays into fashion choices.) I played the bass guitar, listened to Evanescence and wore the thickest black eyeliner. I’d call myself a rocker, but deep down my love for a clean, classic look was always present.
I have since called myself a mixture of Joan Jett, Kate Spade and a little Jackie O. Classic, with a twist of lime.
I love a good band tee, shredded jeans and Docs, but in the same breath, I’ll take an empire-waist, knee-length, sleeveless silk dress and pair it with stilettos.
I would not necessarily say that I’m a trendy person. I like what I like and don’t really care if it’s on trend, goes with the Pantone color of the year, or if it was on runways during Fashion Week. I like pieces that will last a long time. Tried and true shapes and colors.
I’m a sucker for a white button up and crisp jeans with loafers or pumps. I tuck almost everything in. I like to mix textures. I love feminine and masculine paired.
I have lived in Washington State for the last 8 years. The culture shock was real. I came to the state with flare, super low-rise jeans and Birkenstocks. When I looked around and saw every single female (maybe even male) with black leggings, t-shirts and flannels around the waist, paired with Doc Marten’s and a beanie, I went right back to my high school days. It was comfortable for me in more ways than one, but not “me”. When we would visit Tennessee, people would stare at us. I could just hear their eyes say “Y’all ain’t from ‘round here, are ya.” And I wanted to say “Yes, ma’am, we are. We just found another way!”
I grew out of that phase really quickly. Almost immediately actually. My first Easter here, everyone wore black and jeans. It was then that I realized I couldn’t just conform to this fashionably laid back society. My Southern roots were still there.
The following Easter, I wore a green dress from the Limited and our little family of 3 was matching.
To see more of Reagan’s style, visit her Instagram @reagan.perritte.
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