This month’s Facebook Group Member of the Month holds special significance for me. Cheryl Linarelli has been my best friend since the 8th grade. She’s the friend with whom I have done every dangerous, stupid, wild, fun, silly thing between the ages of 13 and 23, so you can probably imagine the experiences we have shared. Every significant moment of my teenage years was spent with Cheryl. In our 20’s, our lives went different directions and despite having lived in different states, different coastlines and different countries, we’re still very close.

Every summer, Cheryl and I would go to the Jersey Shore and would take photo booth photos on the boardwalk. These strips were taken in our sophomore and junior years of high school. I have them framed.

On the surface, Cheryl and I couldn’t be more different. She likes camping, I don’t go anywhere that doesn’t have an outlet. Our music and movie tastes are wildly different, and when we were teenagers, during a sleepover at my house one night, she bored me watching Nascar, a true sign of her southern roots. Yet, that is the beauty of childhood friendships. They’re not forged through commonalities but through the memories built together. It takes one memory to trigger an endless conversation about some adventure we shared. It’s so easy to take for granted just how significant a relationship such as this can be until you realize there isn’t another person on the planet with whom you can share this.

I thought it would be fun to feature Cheryl as December’s Facebook Group Member of the Month. After all, she technically was my first client. We were in high school and Cheryl struggled color combining. So I made her this crude color chart with pastels or something to put on the inside of her closet door. Certainly, that isn’t to say that Cheryl never had style when we were younger. She had her own untamed style, similar to her nature, that I always appreciated. She took risks and was willing to fail. Like when she wore these printed floral footless stockings under denim shorts. But the fact that she was and still is willing to try something on gut instinct sums Cheryl up perfectly. Be it taking a risk with an outfit, by moving to another country, buying a house, trying a new career, Cheryl has always been bold, and that is what makes her an amazing person and someone I am proud to call one of my best friends.

Enough with the sappy reminiscing. Let’s get to know Cheryl and her style better.

Name: Cheryl Linarelli

Age: 45

Location: Kirkland, Washington

Q: What do you like most about being a member of Bridgette’s Facebook Group?

A: I love being a part of Bridgette’s group for the flexibility to pop in and out and join the discussion when it suits my busy schedule, and for the incredibly supportive non-biased member base who are a stunning group of women eager to offer tips, suggestions, and creative words of wisdom and praise.

Q: What are the biggest benefits you have received from being a Group member?

A: Product advice and style suggestions that collapses exhaustive media searches into a quick, but savvy, crowdsource.

Q: What would you tell women who haven’t joined the group yet?

A: The group may feel like something you never knew you really needed but are grateful that you have it.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Casual, comfortable, and easy. I live in the Pacific Northwest and work for a major multinational tech company. When I first joined 2+ years ago, it was heels with ankle pants and blazers. Since then, my style has evolved to more ‘tech casual’ and I index higher now on carefree clothing that translates from walking across our city campus to commuting by bus to attending business reviews and brainstorming sessions. Soft cottons, wools, cashmere, alpaca, and denim now take me through winter and beyond. Weekends are for cozy knits and soft fabrics. I love clothes that fit my body but don’t suffocate it.

Q: How did you discover your personal style?

A: My style comes from everything around me. The Pacific Northwest is known for rain, and we certainly know how to handle a wet day. I’m a mom to a curious 5-year-old and am the breadwinner of my family, managing a demanding tech career with sporadic intense workdays (long hours, traveling, and feeling thinly stretched). It became clear to me that functional and carefree, yet stylish, clothing would serve me best. It takes me from day to night and beyond as I transition from mom at home to business development in the office.

Q: What advice do you have for others trying to find their own style?

A: Wear what you love and the confidence will come. Don’t be afraid to experiment and most of all, be open to advice. I’ve seen Bridgette in action and she is superb. I trust her suggestion implicitly. Ask questions, stay organized, and love every single piece in your closet. If you don’t love it, consider replacing it.

Q: What fashion issues are you currently struggling with?

A: I want to own less and wear more. Just like many women, I struggle with the idea of getting rid of things especially since I’ve invested so much money in purchasing them. I have to get more comfortable with parting ways with pieces that don’t flatter me, are orphans in my closet, or are outdated. I feel like I should keep everything, which creates a saturated closet full of pieces I barely wear. I’ve also made peace with the fact that I will never again wear anything that falls above the knee. My body is no longer cut out for that and I’m just not confident or comfortable wearing that length.

Q: What are the most versatile items you have in your closet?

A: Skinny jeans. I can go from office casual and a chunky knit to evening with a sleeveless tee and funky blazer.

Q: If you could go back and change a way you dressed in the past, what would you change?

A: Buying cheap trendy clothing that had an obvious expiration date and buying items for a single function and then rarely wearing them again. It was a great way of adding many unneeded orphans to my closet.

Q: Is there a fashion purchase you made that you found more useful than you thought it would be?

A: A quilted Marmot outerwear vest. I bought it 10 years ago and wear it constantly for warmth and to add a functional layer with pockets. I lived in it during a recent trip to Japan and really made use of an internal pocket that kept my rail pass handy.

Q: What about a fashion purchase that you thought would solve all your problems, but didn’t?

A: Blazers. I love the idea of them and there is a picture of Jennifer Aniston in a Balmain that I’m obsessed with, but they’re harder for me to wear than they should be. I’m not entirely comfortable wearing one all day in the office and I don’t think about them for weekends. Perhaps this is my challenge to experiment with actually making one work. Perhaps I should pick up the Balmain 🙂

Q: How do you envision yourself when you look your best?

A: Capable of achieving anything. When I look my best, there is no limit on what I can do. I’m fierce and able, confident and unstoppable.

Q: What are your biggest fashion goals for the year?

A: Replace all of the clothes that currently sag on my body with clothing that fits! A year ago, I started a journey to lose weight and dropped several dress sizes, losing 35 lbs. from my 5’4″ frame. I have yet to do any serious shopping and all of my clothing, especially pants, just hang on me. I almost always need to wear a belt. My 2020 goals include wearing pants that hug my body and don’t need a belt!

Q: What is the best fashion advice you ever received?

A: Anything that Bridgette has ever told me especially to buy jeans that are too tight when you try them on. They will relax in all of the right places. I remember this every time I buy new jeans. Also, wear what you love. Your confidence will beam.

Q: The first thing you take off when you get home?

A: Everything. I’m zero to pajamas at lightning speed. Plus, within minutes my hair has to go up into a high bun. I can’t stand hair in my face when I’m at home. Ever.

Q: What are your favorite color(s) to wear?

A: Earth tones and neutrals. I’m an Earth sign and I just love natural colors. If the color is in a Bob Ross painting, I’m probably wearing it.

Q: Where do you like to shop?

A: I’m not a high-end shopper.I like finding hidden gems in ordinary places.Some of my favorite stores are Poshmark, Rothy’s, Allbirds, Macys, Nordstrom (+Rack), TJMaxx, plus vintage and thrift stores.

Q: What makes you happiest?

A: Plenty of sleep, a great meal, my son as my very best friend, and my many coffee rituals.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Technology and innovation and how they impact and evolve everyday life for the everyday citizen. Also, having it all and doing it all. I don’t live my life with limitations and to me, anything is possible. If I want to travel, I travel. If I want to sleep, I sleep. If I want to play, I play and if I want to do nothing and sit on the couch in the world’s comfiest pajamas, that’s exactly what I do.