This is our 36th installment featuring Facebook Group members and it has taken this long for a member of the group to request that another member be featured. That’s pretty impressive. It’s certainly not that I was against featuring Karen. I hadn’t done it yet because I thought I already had and she turned me down. I had been dying to feature her for some time.
There is a soft humbleness to Karen and it didn’t surprise me that, despite the fact that she was the only one who was specifically requested to be featured as a member of the month, she was so convinced her answers would be boring she gave me permission to go in and edit them. Meanwhile, not only were her answers some of my favorites, it couldn’t have been but a few weeks prior that she posted a great modern look with funky glasses to the group where I called her interesting and thought she looked like someone whose story I’d want to know. Karen tends to downplay her style yet she always looks amazing despite her life being filled with her own set of stresses and challenges. Yet, despite her tendency to downplay how awesome she is, Karen also exudes an approachable nature, has humility, is kind, and possesses a gentle spirit that she always brings to the group.
So clearly, others want to get to know Karen and her style better. So let’s get to her answers to my questions.
Location: North Myrtle Beach, SC
Q: What do you like most about being a member of Bridgette’s Facebook Group?
A: Meeting women globally from all walks of life, various careers, and lifestyles.
Q: The biggest benefits you have received from being a Group member
A: Looking at my wardrobe and accessories from a different viewpoint along with accepting that it is a-okay to sell/donate clothes that you cherish (sounds ridiculous but memories attached) that still fit but will never wear again. Also discovering new brands, styles, and accessories including eye frames and packing cubes!
Q: What would you tell women who haven’t joined The Group yet?
A: Join! I think of this group as more than just fashion. It is an uplifting group that holds women up and cheers them on.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Structured. Tailored. Every time I sway away from it I regret it. I cannot wear flowy, swing dresses or pants as I just feel huge in them. I LOVE color. I do not own one pair of black slacks. I am most comfortable with crisp, clean lines and simple jewelry.
Q: How did you discover your style?
A: When I first started working out of college I was fortunate enough to work for the President of a financial services company. He was an HBS grad, polished, bright, driven, a foodie, and the brightest individual I think I had ever met. I grew up in Pennsylvania, farm country, with blue-collar, hardworking families. I was the first to go to college. He demanded the very best from himself and me. I learned quickly to dress professionally as I represented him and the firm. I had absolutely no money but purchased a few suits on a one-year payment plan. That and a string of pearls my Grandmother gifted me. But that was just the beginning. I was very aware of what female investment professionals and clients wore and took note. When clients/visitors arrived I took note of what was worn and how they presented themselves. It was an experience of a lifetime and something I carried through for my entire career and after. Funny but many years later I reconnected with a female consultant I worked with. During one conversation she said, “I just remember you always looking great – your hair, makeup, and clothes.” I laughed as I had identical, twin teenage boys at that time, and, trust me, I did not have things “together” but that early training paid off.
Q: What advice do you have for others trying to find their style?
A: Something my Executive Coach told me a long time ago “you can pull someone out of their comfort zone but eventually they will go back to whomever they are”. I think the same is true for style. We can try various looks/styles but as we age we know what works and what does not and we need to listen to that inner voice vs. friends saying “oh that looks great!”
Q: What fashion issues are you currently struggling with?
A: Where do I start? I love classic, tailored, gorgeous clothes but they do not fit into the beach and semi-retirement/work-from-home lifestyle and we are not traveling much due to first my Mom and now Dad’s health, so I am at a total loss. I love Anthropologie for more casual looks but these last few years the styles have been horrible. And the prairie look, no thank you. Waiting to see what comes out this Fall but I am not hopeful.
Q: What are the most versatile items you have in your closet?
A: umm…my dresses…last year or so I have purchased some from Saks on sale that I can dress up or down. I use to be one of those people who “saved” clothes for “special” occasions but not anymore. I have a Theory linen, sleeveless dress I picked up on sale that I wear constantly along with some J.McLaughlin pieces (they have great sales, or I order from RueLaLa). I also have way too many v-neck tees and J.McLaughlin Jamey cotton sweaters but they are the items I grab without thinking twice.
Q: If you could go back and change the way you dressed in the past, what would you change?
A: Honestly, when I was working I had a great wardrobe. I liked everything I had and felt good in it. I rarely wore slacks. When I moved here to South Carolina, I bought all these Fresh Produce cruiser skorts. They are cotton material and I thought I loved but honestly, they do not have a tailored look and I feel “messy” wearing them. No more. I am now wearing nylon dresses and skorts from brands such as Barbara Gerwit and I feel much more put together.
Q: Is there a fashion purchase you made that you found more useful than you thought it would be?
A: Umm..Scout day tripper bag. It was a gift. I thought, “I will never use it,” but I love it. Casual, lightweight. White and Warren mini travel wrap I finally purchased on sale. I wear it all the time. And it washes beautifully. Apple Watch. I dug my heels in for the longest time not wanting but it was either that or a medical alert (due to heart condition I developed at 53 due to stress/hormones). Best purchase as it reminds me to move. I do exercise every single morning but I can also sit all day working, editing, writing, reading, and not think anything of it. The watch reminds me to get up and walk around.
Q: What about a fashion purchase that you thought would solve all your problems, but didn’t?
A: Strapless bra – please someone, anyone, tell me one that actually stays up. I have a long torso and this is a constant struggle. While on our last trip, we got back to our suite and when I was undressing I died laughing. It was down around my waist! Seriously. Good thing the dress was very loose and no one could tell. I thought my husband would die laughing. Both of us were on the floor crying we were laughing so hard.
Worst recent purchase -Lululemon Align leggings. Every single Boston girlfriend swears by them and wears them all the time. So yes, I gave in. They are still in my closet with tags on them. I just do not wear leggings around the house or when I am out and about.
Q: How do you envision yourself when you look your best?
A: Classic, smart style with simple jewelry with makeup.
Q: What are your biggest fashion goals for the year?
A: Does a good haircut/color count as a fashion goal? Hope so as it is my #1 goal this year – to get my hair figured out! I have an appt in Boston in mid-July and cannot wait to see my former hairstylist.
1) I would love to purchase a gorgeous evening bag, perhaps vintage. 2) Dresses. I continue to watch J.McLaughlin’s sales and hope to pick up additional pieces. I love their Catalina cloth fabric. 3). Winser London Miracle dress in a gorgeous blue. They are always sold out in my size.
Q: What is the best fashion advice you ever received?
- Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
- Better to be overdressed than under.
Q: The first thing you take off when you get home?
A: My rings
Q: Favorite color(s) to wear
A: Any shade of blue
Q: Favorite stores to shop?
A: J.McLaughlin, Saks, Neiman, Bloomingdales, Nordstroms, and recently Madewell. I am a bargain hunter and based on this group I am really going to try and figure out Poshmark and TheRealReal.
Q: What makes you happiest?
A: I am an introvert by nature. I love quiet.
Sitting at the beach.
Greece. We started going 20 years ago and it has stolen my heart.
I love cities (which I know sounds odd where I love the quiet) but drop me in any city and I just beam. My husband always says “I can tell you just love being here”.
A: My sons – both of whom have language-based learning disabilities along with ADHD. Many educators did not think they would finish high school let alone college but both have beaten the odds, work incredibly hard (harder than their peers), and are doing well in their fields.
Women globally – every day I read about women displaying incredible courage and I always sit back thinking “how can I make an impact on the world?”.
Nature – walking the beach at sunrise/sunset. With everything on my plate, it settles me down and reminds me how big this world is and how small my problems really are.
Girlfriends. There are no words to describe the depth of gratitude I have for my “village”. I have leaned in hard over the last five years in particular. They inspire me to be gentle with myself as I travel this crazy, difficult road I am currently on and remind me that “nothing is forever”.
Q: Use One Word to Describe Your Style
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You are a really interesting person; thanks so much for sharing Karen! I’ve had good luck with Wacoal strapless bras (really just one: i think it was called “red carpet”?) I can sprint for ~200ft and it stays up! You really had me laughing and I can sympathize.