When I think of Nakisha Smith, April’s Facebook Group Member of the Month, I think of the word beauty.  Yes, she’s a stunning woman, but that’s not what makes her beautiful.  Nakisha is warm, kind, and has a spirit about her that glows and you enjoy being around.  Whenever one of her photos pops up in the group, her energy radiates as does her confidence.  You can see from her looks, this is not only a woman who knows who she is, but who has developed a command of her own wardrobe in such a way that you can tell she can manipulate what she owns and use it to dress for whatever mood she is in or attitude she is feeling.  Nakisha may make this look effortless, but anything that looks easy rarely is.

I originally got to know Nakisha when her comments started popping up on my blog posts.  They were always insightful, supportive, sometimes challenging, and smart and I even learned a thing or two myself.  Nakisha is someone I’d like to get to know better, and I thought you would too.  So let’s get to know her and her style through this feature as April’s Facebook Group Member of the Month.

Name: Nakisha Smith

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Age: 42

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

A: I love the camaraderie of the group! I love that the group is full of women from different backgrounds. I enjoy being inspired by the other group members and usually walk away with some new styling tidbit.

Q: The biggest benefits you have received from being a Group member 

A: The biggest benefit that I’ve received is ideas for new color combinations, pairing silhouettes, feedback on outfit ideas, and shopping tips! I remember spending so much time searching for the right pair of leopard flats and the pair I bought (and love!) were a suggestion in the group. So now, I save a ton of time when I have something specific in mind by checking the group first.

Q: What would you tell women who haven’t joined The Group yet?  

A: It’s such a fun, inviting space! It is so difficult to find real-world inspiration from everyday women. Social media has resulted in lots of aspirational styling that isn’t realistic for many of us. As mentioned, the group is super diverse and you are guaranteed to find someone who shares a similar style, similar body type, similar lifestyle, etc.

Q: How would you describe your style? 

A: I would describe my work style as a twist on the classic style. I like classic silhouettes and fitted garments, but I also adore color and prints. I like to be seen! I like to take up space! So I am usually drawn to the most interesting things that still fit within that classic styling.

Recently, a friend commented, “Sometimes I struggle between dressing like a 22-year-old, a 42-year-old, and a 65-year-old.” THIS! In my free time, you just never know what you’ll get. I may wear anything from my Black Panther hoodie with majorly destructed jeans and high-top Adidas to a simple sweater with ponte pants and flats to a semi-sheer maxi with thigh-high boots. And my loungewear? Stars, unicorns, tie-dye…it’s like a 9-year-old invaded my space.

I think my main focus is ensuring I am dressed for the occasion and the space, and that I feel good in what I’m wearing. Outside of that, I just like to have fun with it.

Q: How did you discover your style?  

A: I have always been such a clothes horse. I would shop and cull and shop and cull. About 10 years ago, I learned to sew. I spent a lot of time sewing a lot of things but was still in a cycle of sewing and culling and sew and cull. I believe my draw was the same with ready-to-wear and handmades; I was drawn in by the idea of the garment much more often than the garment itself.

So I have taken the time over the last few years to focus on what I like and why I like it. And I don’t force what I know doesn’t work for me (tunic tops! the color mustard!).

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

A: Get really honest with yourself. It doesn’t matter how expensive something is, how much others love it, or how much you think you should like it if you just aren’t feeling it. Take the time to learn garment details (fabric types, silhouettes, etc) so that you have the language to look for what interests you. Try the thing on! You have to try it on to know if it works!! I think that may be one (tiny) silver lining from the pandemic. As sad as I am to see the decline of the shopping mall, trying things on at home, with access to the other garments and accessories that we may pair it with, is so helpful!

Q: What fashion issues are you currently struggling with? 

A: Oh boy! I am 42 years old. I was never one to lament aging. Hands down, my 30s were better than my 20s were better than my teens. I was so excited to turn 40! I was not prepared for ALL the ways that my body would change. I can’t even point to any specific *thing*, it’s just different. It feels foreign almost, which is unsettling. So I feel like I am starting over in some ways, as if I need to reconsider what works for me, now.

Then there is my ongoing struggle of living in the tundra 🙂 I think I noted our first temp below freezing somewhere around mid-October 2021. And the forecasted low on the first day of April is 29 degrees F. So I spend a good 2 months each “spring” whining about shoe options and outwear options and pant options. Those days when it warms up just enough to melt the icky gray snow, but it’s too cold and too wet to wear nice pants or cute shoes. Meh!

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

A: I have a lightweight denim shirt that I bought from Target of all places, many years ago. I wear it all the time and in so many configurations, I can’t even count! Also, a pair of black corduroy cropped flares. I think they’re on their last leg and it makes me sad! There’s also a jersey-knit dress in a black & white abstract print. That dress can do anything! And finally, I bought a navy tank style bodysuit last year and I should just buy 3 more. 3 more navy tank bodysuits!!

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

A: I had my kids pretty young – 19 with my first and 20 with my second. From age 22 until about 25, I gained over 60 lbs. But that left me in that weird mid-sized space, and being so young still, nothing about my body actually fit into the plus-sized clothing…but I was far too big for any of the “young/missy” stores that were popular in the early 2000s. And I just gave up. I was wearing completely nondescript clothes because they fit, or wearing things that were too big.

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

A: Aside from my navy tank bodysuit!?

My undergraduate degree is in chemistry and I spent the early part of my work life working as a forensic chemist. Working in the lab meant long pants and sleeves, clothes that you wouldn’t be upset if they were ruined, and sensible shoes. When I went the corporate/business route, I was elated to be able to wear dresses to work again. I bought two tricot slips, one in tan (hey, it’s not “nude” for me!) and one in black. And boy have I gotten my money’s worth! I wear those all the time with dresses or even with tops & skirts.

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

A: I remember finding the perfect white shirt. Because we MUST have a white shirt! And now I had one and it fits well, the fabric was lovely, and I never wore it. It didn’t feel like me…too buttoned-up, too plain, too “too”.

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

A: Well this is a fun question!

My vision is top-down. My curls are popping, my brows are perfect, I am wearing something fitted but not tight; colorful or bright, but not garish; perfectly paired jewelry, and I am wearing amazing shoes.

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

A: If you haven’t noticed, I have yet to mention bags. I never really cared about them…I would buy a black purse from TJ Maxx or Marshall’s and carry it ’til it died, and then I’d replace it with another black purse.

A: A few years ago I splurged on two Dooney & Bourke bags and while I still like them both, I now know that they aren’t quite “me”. So I have a goal this year to find MY basic bag.

I also splurged recently on denim. I have a couple of pairs that I really like but I figured I’d try the AG jeans that were getting rave reviews. Well…they are PERFECT. They look amazing on me! My butt looks perfect, my legs look long, they’re the right length…I’m amazed! So, maybe I add another pair this year in a darker wash (I went mid with this pair).

And someday, I will find the right color brown leather (dress) boot!

Nakisha smithQ: What is the best fashion advice you ever received? 

A: If you just can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, it’s probably the proportions. So many times over the years I’ve stood in front of a mirror confused as to why something (usually a top) wasn’t working.

I’m average height at 5’5.5″ (do not forget my half!) but remember that I sew? My torso is about 1.5″ shorter than average. Suddenly all those slightly off tops I tried on over the years made sense. They’d be just long enough to be awkward, but not so long that the issue was glaring.

Similarly, I will wear a midi skirt, but not midi length dresses. They just don’t work well for me.

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

A: I immediately change when I get home. That is the first thing I do! I go straight upstairs and pretty much get completely undressed and into some of my kooky, cozy loungewear.

Q: Favorite color(s) to wear 

A: Blue, charcoal, camel, black & white prints, cream, olive, and coral. Any jewel tone and in the summer, BRIGHT yellow.

Q: Favorite stores to shop? 

A: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Tahari ASL.

Nakisha SmithQ: What makes you happiest? 

A: Being my authentic self. I am so many things — daughter, mom, wife, Nana, sister, aunt, friend, cousin, seamstress, knitter…I am a scientist running a Human Resources department who primarily listens to rap music but doesn’t swear…I will not leave the house without my eyebrows DONE, but please don’t look at my nails…and I eat my vegetables first to get them out of the way so I can get to the good stuff.

I’m authentically me in all that I do and that brings me the most joy!

Q: What inspires you? 

A: I find inspiration in so many places. I am friends with some really incredible women who inspire me. I am inspired by the future of my two grandsons. I am inspired by the thought of all the things I have accomplished…and all that I have yet to achieve.

Q: Use One Word to Describe Your Style

A: Confident

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