FPWTF: Kristen V.

FPWTF: Kristen V.

I figured I would end this fashion philosophy series with some brief thoughts on my personal style evolution.

Anyone who knows me knows I love fashion. I always have. I think if I could have chosen the outfit I wore out of the hospital at my birth, I would’ve.

In elementary/middle school, I was obsessed with gauchos and platform flip flops and rainbow earrings that touched my shoulders.

In high school, I wore a choker necklace and converse high tops with my private school uniform and I tried so hard to fit that “soft-grunge” aesthetic.

In college, I could count the number of times I wore leggings to class. (Three. Three times. All three because I woke up insanely late and practically walked into class crying.)

I have tried every print, color, and fit of clothing possible throughout the years. And yet I still have a hard time defining my fashion sense. It probably doesn’t help that I tend to completely rotate my closet once every four to six months. I’ll come home with giant Goodwill bags full of clothes, only to find myself making a giant pile to give back to Goodwill the next month.

I love a good vintage blazer with shoulder pads, but I also want to sport a floral sundress with espadrilles. I want to look edgy and girly and simple and extravagant all at once. Sounds about right.

I think the main thing I realized from this series is that fashion is so dynamic and fun. My fashion inspiration can come from anything and everything, making it that much more spontaneous and exciting. Like all of the people that contributed to this series, I find myself seeking expression through the clothes I wear. And whether I’m rocking my leather mini-skirt or my favorite men’s Levi’s, the goal is to feel comfortable with myself. And to look good while doing it.

P.S. Enjoy these cringe-worthy photos of me. Quality content.


If you’d like to see more of my style, check out my Instagram @kristen.v!

Thanks so much for tuning into this series. Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I did! And thank you to everyone who participated. If you would ever like to contribute to my blog, feel free to DM on Instagram or shoot me an email.

FPWTF: Grace Fries

FPWTF: Grace Fries

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. 


Ever since I can remember, I’ve been intensely fascinated with the history of fashion. Specifically, the fashion of the latter half of the twentieth century.

Stevie Nicks.

Jane Birkin.

Janis Joplin.

These are just a few of the women who have shaped and contributed to my personal style. I admire these women for their courage to quite simply be themselves.

The art of not caring what others think is intricate and much more than what it sounds like on the surface. In my experience, it takes a great deal of bravery and spirit to put aside the opinions of others and completely be yourself. Over the past year or so, I’ve begun to discover the importance of individuality.

My Fashion Identity

August 18, 2018.

I walked through the doors of my high school for the first time.

I was determined. I was ready to make a name for myself.

But I quickly realized that my expectations were much higher than they should have been. Actually, my expectations were quite the opposite of what you might assume from the average freshman.

Nearly every day, I walked in the doors in eccentric, Joni Mitchell-esque outfits. As the weeks went by, I found that I was just about the only one dressing like this. I let unspoken peer-pressure overcome me and I tried to dress like “everyone else.” I put too much makeup on my face. I tried too hard to please others without letting it show. I couldn’t come off as desperate for attention, of course. 

Later that year and into the summer, I started listening to ’70s music almost exclusively. The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Elton John. But more than anything, I listened to Janis Joplin. I fell in love with her music. Her voice was so unique, nothing like what I’d heard before. One day, I sat down and googled “Janis Joplin.” I scrolled through some pictures and read a few articles and fell in love with not only her music, but her style, too. From that moment on, she has been the biggest inspiration behind my style. I found what she chose to wear to be so inspiring, but more so, I was inspired by her unflinching courage to wear whatever she wanted to wear without giving attention to what others thought. (Disclaimer: I do realize that there are components of Janis’ life that I don’t approve of and don’t want in my own, but nevertheless, I still find her eccentricity and independence inspiring.)

I also let my environment have an effect on how I dress. Tennessee is full of art and–you guessed it–thrift stores. I do the bulk of my shopping at thrift stores around town. I love to take the culture of Chattanooga and incorporate it into my style.

What I love about my style is that it’s never monotonous. One day I’ll be wearing one outfit, the next day my outfit might look completely different. Much like Chattanooga, there’s always something new but the classics are still there.

There is a quote from Alexander McQueen that I’ve always found inspiring. “I think there is beauty in everything. What ‘normal’ people perceive as ugly, I can usually see something of beauty in it.” 

Above all, my goal is to inspire others with the way I dress. To show the world that it’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to be different.


For more of Grace’s style, check out her Instagram @sarahgracefries!

FPWTF: Jared Powell

FPWTF: Jared Powell

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. 


When Photography and Fashion Collide: A Fresh Perspective

I started getting into fashion not long after starting photography actually. As I was doing different creative shoots, I realized that certain types of clothing photographed really well and were flattering on the subject while other types of clothing didn’t present well in picture format. Before each shoot, I started talking with the model and suggest ideal style for the shoots I was doing.

From there, I almost became their personal stylists. I practically chose their outfits. And I started building a mental catalogue of the types of clothing that I thought looked good in pictures. 

When I took a look at my own wardrobe through this lens, I realized many of the pieces I owned wouldn’t look good in a photograph, nor were they particularly flattering. So, I decided to change that.

Virginia-based photographer Jared Powell.

I quickly realized that many of the clothes offered at your local mall or outlet just were not anything special. In fact, very few retailers carry trendy or stylish guy’s clothing. Many of them tend to play it safe and just offer very basic outfits (i.e. H&M).

I turned to Goodwill. I still didn’t know a ton about fashion at this point and hadn’t branched out much before this, so I didn’t know what might look cool versus dated/out of style. However, I didn’t let fear stop me from trying on anything that caught my eye.

The Thrifting Effect

Anything that piqued my interest, I would grab off the rack and sling over my arm. It’s incredible how freeing it can be to go shopping with this mindset. You just let your creativity loose. And you end up making a purchase decision based off how it actually looks on your body (as well as paired with other clothing you may own).

Another bonus to thrifting is you can find unique pieces that no one else is wearing, and oftentimes the quality is so much better than what you would find at a fast fashion retailer. 

Jared’s thrifted outfits are a major part of his style/expression.

Through this process, I have created (and continue to create) what I would consider my personal style.

I like white, black, tan, beige, and grey.

I particularly enjoy making monochromatic outfits out of these colors. I tend to favor beige though.

I love different interesting textures and usually like one piece of my outfit to be more flowing or oversized.

In photos, clothes that are flowy can add interest or movement to the composition.

The end look I try to achieve is something sophisticated, well-thought-out and creative, often oscillating between outfits that are eye-catching/fashionable and outfits that are more subtle.


For more of Jared’s style, check out his absolutely aesthetic Instagram @jareddpowell!

Be sure to subscribe to see more from this series! Looking forward to sharing these stories with you all.

 

FPWTF: Lauren McKinney

FPWTF: Lauren McKinney

One year ago I opened my closet door, thumbed through a hodgepodge of florals, ruffles, peplums, and plaids…

and realized that I didn’t love anything. 

My closet was packed, but I still found nothing to wear. 

I labored over each piece, attempting to create cohesion in a haphazard wardrobe that was built on fast fashion and end-of-the-year sales. With no knowledge of capsule wardrobes, I searched YouTube for “effortless fashion” and stumbled on Signe Hansen’s YouTube channel, “Useless.” Her methods were entirely revolutionary to me.

Was it really possible to be stylish and love my wardrobe without having an overflowing closet and a surplus of money? 

Consumerism’s grip on my wallet (and mind) told me no, but Signe’s videos told me otherwise. So I began the process of reinventing my wardrobe. 

One year later and I’ve sold almost everything I reluctantly wore and have funded my new capsule wardrobe almost entirely from those sales. Now I dress myself in no time, everything matches, and believe it or not, this smaller wardrobe has made me more creative and given me way more outfit options. 

The past year has totally flipped my fashion philosophy on its head. Creating a capsule wardrobe has honestly changed my life. It sounds dramatic, I know, but not only do I spend less money on clothes, I also understand the implications of everything I purchase. 

So, what is a capsule wardrobe? 

In short, my capsule wardrobe has three components: an all-year basics component, a seasonal component, and an all-year color scheme. I only keep/buy what I love so my closet is lean, and I like it that way. My basics stay in my closet all year, and I supplement them with two seasonal wardrobes–spring/summer and fall/winter. 

The basic and seasonal wardrobes, once put together, can create endless outfits. Because I follow a color scheme that I love, everything matches everything else. If you’re curious about creating your own capsule wardrobe, Signe Hansen has an entire video on how to start. 

My Fashion Philosophy: CFEE

I never even had a fashion philosophy before I started capsuling, but being intentional about how I shop forced me to create a fashion philosophy. I summarize my fashion philosophy in four words: classic, feminine, easy, and a touch of edge. And ultimately all of these words must nod to the ethical and sustainable

CLASSIC

Channeling Audrey Hepburn’s timeless style is easier than you think!

The concept of classic elegance is something I value so much. Why? Because it’s timeless while at the same time being eternally interesting. Some of the greatest style icons of the Western world dressed in beautifully tailored yet effortlessly simple pieces (think of Audrey Hepburn, Jane Birkin, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana—I could go on). Today, I’m heavily inspired by the quintessential French woman, and whether or not she actually exists, the concept of having well-constructed pieces that transcend time is one that inspires my closet. 

Jeans, a button-down shirt, and a good pair of shoes will never ever get old.

FEMININE

French Girl Style We Can't get Enough Of - STYLE REPORT MAGAZINE

Much of today’s fashion is androgynous, which I honestly love on other people. It’s cool and Scandinavian. However, I find myself maintaining an air of femininity in my closet. This manifests in the form of flowing silk blouses, pearls, the occasional ruffle or floral print, and of course, pink—I’ll never stop wearing a beautiful pale pink.

Fashion blogger and YouTuber Audrey Coyne does a fabulous job of constructing feminine and timeless outfits. She’s shaped my closet so much. And who can ignore Jeanne Damas? She’s the epitome of French girl fashion.  

EASY

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Ease is essential in any wardrobe created with the intention to last. Whether or not I’m intentionally avoiding the piece, I find that if wearing it makes my life harder, I just won’t reach for it. The paradox is that a truly easy piece probably wasn’t easy to find (in that I couldn’t just walk into the mall and purchase whatever I saw). Ease and wearability post-purchase require research and intentionality pre-purchase. 

EDGE

The leo flats are out 🐆💥 similar (mainly ethical) options can be found by screenshotting this image and opening it in the @liketoknow.it…

Edge adds an element of interest in a wardrobe that is mostly built out of classic and feminine pieces. Edge keeps me modern. Simple things like wearing a pointy-toe boot, having jeans with a frayed hem and layering jewelry create a subtle coolness that complements the altogether softness of my wardrobe. Signe Hansen and Anine Bing are my edgy inspo. 

A Quick Note About Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion

This capsule wardrobe journey has shown me the importance of caring about where my clothes come from. The documentary The True Cost reveals that the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world; it could easily be the least ethical industry as well. Caring about quality, the earth and people is something that I can accomplish based on where I shop. I’ve purchased 90 percent of my capsule wardrobe secondhand, and when I shop for new items, I always shop ethical brands first. I’m no expert in this, but every small decision makes a difference. 

So…

Building a wardrobe is an ongoing process, even a capsule wardrobe. However, capsuling has made getting dressed in the morning exponentially easier. I highly recommend checking out Signe Hansen’s YouTube channel. Now, I love putting outfits together, and I love talking about how transformative this process has been for me. Fashion doesn’t have to be hard.  

A Window to My Soul

A Window to My Soul

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)

I pray as I walk to work. I pray as I lie down at night. I pray when I am scared. I pray when I am lonely. I beg and plead to God as tears trickle down my cheeks.

Nothing.

I feel absolutely nothing.

My heart longs for an inkling–a touch from the Holy Spirit. Something. Anything.

But nothing is there. No spark. No flame. My soul feels cold, and I begin to doubt.

I have silently struggled because I do not want to find pride or honor in sharing my grievances. But Christians are called to live in community with one another, and I am only disadvantaging myself by not seeking that community.

So here I am. Letting myself be seen–weaknesses and all. Which is truly a weird and uncomfortable thing for me. But at the end of the day, this is not about me.

I was listening to a sermon from my home church the other day about the freedom we enjoy in Christ, and it was very convicting. My heart twinged as the pastor fervently spoke. “The Gospel doesn’t save you and I just so we can twiddle our thumbs and wait for eternity… Being formed into the image of Christ is absolutely a process. But it’s a process that should be evident in your life if you claim to be a follower of Jesus. This change is not an option, it’s not a preference. You and I cannot consistently follow Jesus and not consistently grow into his likeness.”

My mind blanked. Where is the fruit in my life? I struggled to find evidence of my growing love and relationship with Jesus. I was staring into the abyss of my own thoughts.

An Aside

Let me outline what I know to be true and the things of which I am sure, despite my doubting.

  1. There is a God.
  2. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, that He died and rose again, and that He alone is savior of the world.
  3. There is a lot I do not know.

On Feeling

“Hear my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray.”

Psalm 5:2 (NIV)

I feel very out of touch with God. And it is hard for me to even write this because I do not quite know how to put into words the hundreds of scattered thoughts going through my mind.

I think the thing that scares me the most is my lack of emotion. While some find comfort in it, feeling nothing is absolutely terrifying for me because I typically swing between extreme depths of emotion. And what makes it worse is that I don’t understand why it is happening. I don’t know if it’s some hidden sin or simply a test of faith at work in my life. However, I want to reach out to my community. I am not going to pretend I am unique in this struggle.

One request I’d like to make is this: Join me in prayer. Pray for those who are in a season of doubt, myself included.

Proverbs 11:14 talks about finding wisdom in the counsel of many.
“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

So consider this me seeking counsel. How do you deal with the chasm of nothingness in your life? My hope is to cultivate a little community that can share and grow together. Even if it is on this digital platform.

While I’m at it, I do want to ask how I can love and encourage all of you. Yes, within the community of believers, but also anyone reading–Christian or not. Comment below, if you’d like (anonymous is fine).

I am a listening ear for your struggles, just as you were for mine.

Thank you for reading.

The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

The Side of Paris Fashion Week No One Talks About

Strolling through the streets of Paris with my Starbucks in hand, I felt extremely American. In my defense, I knew it was only my first coffee stop of the day. I made my way to the metro station, grabbed a seat and waited for my stop.

Upon walking back up to ground level, the grey Parisian sky was waiting for me. And so was the Champs-Élysées. I strolled down the street, gawking at all the luxurious shops and ran right into Fenty’s pop up shop in the Galaries Lafayette.

A quick walk through the park led me to the Grand Palais, where I saw my first fashion show ever. The photographers were lined up on the sidewalks to capture all the ultra glamorous people wearing giant sunglasses, half of whom I did not recognize at all. They all had one thing in common though: these gorgeous people strolled perfectly through the bustle of the photographers directly into the Elie Saab exposition. The music started. The show began.

After being dazzled by all the beauty I witnessed, it was time to make an essential stop at the Café de Flore. We walked in and sat down.

More Instagram influencers. I didn’t think it was possible to see so many chic people.

My friends and I sat and discussed whether the fashion industry is truly superficial or not. After all, these Instagrammers aren’t really… doing anything. They’re just here. Taking selfies and tons of pictures (in outfits that are, admittedly, super cute).

Are they following trends or are they creating them?

Who actually is creating the trends?

Do the designers and runways shows have control of the fashion world in 2019?

We dipped into a small cobblestone alley because we were tired of walking through crowds of tourists and photographers. At that moment, a Parisian woman walked by me–sunglasses on and purse in hand.

An everyday woman, yet still great style. I could totally recreate that outfit. I turn toward my friends, “All these French women own a pair of jeans that fit them just right and a great blazer. That’s really all you need.”

Maybe these are the people who create what’s new.

The everyday people. The ordinary people. I don’t know about you, but most of my outfit inspiration comes from people I see on the streets.

Sure, huge fashion houses and designers still have an obvious sway in the trends. But I think it’s becoming more common to draw inspiration from one another simply as human beings.

And I love that.


What were your favorite PFW looks? Comment below and I’ll share all my faves!
(Featured photo from Unsplash.)

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

Five Things You Should Know Before Visiting France.

For as long as I could remember, I’ve been a Francophile. I grew up dreaming of going to Paris, decided to study French in college, and I currently call this beautiful country my home.

But if you’re planning on taking a trip here, there are some things you should know.

1. France isn’t Paris.

This seems simple, but the amount of times I’ve had someone ask me “How’s Paris?” when I live nowhere near the city is… astounding? Sad?

For anyone still confused, here’s a map of France.

Map courtesy of Mapswire.

See that little star? That’s Paris.

Mainland France has 96 departments, so there’s definitely a lot more to see than Paris. The French often consider the countryside more “French” than the city anyway. So there’s that.

2. The French are very kind.

Contrary to popular belief, the French are not rude. They just don’t like tourists. It’s nothing personal, really.

If you are planning to take a trip to France, simply avoid looking like a tourist. This means no super bright colors, no crossbody Kavu bags, and yes…no Chacos.

Oh, and maybe learn a couple French words to at least prove you’re trying. Knowing simple words like bonjour/s’il vous plaît/merci can go a long way.

3. When it comes to restaurants/touristy stuff, you pay for the environment.

Unlike the Americans chugging their Venti Starbucks as they rush out the door, the French prefer to take things slow.

But it comes at a cost.

Getting a meal à emporter (to-go) is cheaper than staying sur place. For example, a coffee could be 1 euro, but it will be 2.50 if you stay to drink it.

I’d recommend indulging the extra euro and just staying to enjoy the atmosphere. There’s truly nothing better than people watching outside of a café as you sip your tiny expresso.

4. Public transportation is your best friend.

Typically when I envision public transportation, I think of Elaine Benes stuck on the disgusting NYC subway and having a mild panic attack.

But in France, the majority of people use public transportation. It’s actually clean (yes, even in Paris). It’s also pretty affordable if you’re a young adult. Anyone under 26 is considered a youth in France and receives discounts on pretty much any public service (museums and movies included).

So don’t be afraid to hop on the bus, metro or train!

5. Prepare for late nights.

The French love their soirées. They typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 p.m. and meals last two (or more) hours. They eat and talk and eat more and talk and eat and are still somehow super skinny…

In short, don’t plan on the next day’s itinerary being jammed pack if you’re eating dinner with a bunch of French people the night before. After dinner and drinks are all said and done, you’ll probably be getting home around 1 a.m.


French culture is fun and wildly rich, so try to enjoy it in as many nonconventional ways while you’re here! Bonne chance!

Got more travel questions? Leave a comment below. I’d love to start doing some travel blog posts, so tell me what you want to know!