Today is my friend Katie’s birthday.
There are lots of people from whom I’ve learned various tips and tricks about how to shop or how to dress, lots of folks whose personal style has shaped mine at one time or another. You can see their influences ebbing and flowing as my wardrobe evolves. But Katie is probably my original peer fashion icon. A real person my own age, not like Audrey Hepburn or something. We met in college, where I usually wore jeans, flip flops, and hoodies, while she was always very put together (we used to joke that if you could hear heels trip trapping down the hallway from 100 yards away, Katie was approaching).
Katie’s look is usually a bit more glam than mine (see: those heels). But through our friendship, I discovered that you can admire and be influenced by a friend’s look without copying it exactly.
The most important lesson I’ve learned from Katie is that you can be elegant and make a statement at the same time. You can stand out while still looking just right for the situation. B.K. (before Katie), I pretty much dressed according to a uniform for the level of formality required by an event:
- Casual = jeans and tshirt or sweatshirt, depending on the weather.
- Medium nice = khakis and button-down shirt (pre-2004) or black pants and sweater (post-2004).
- Super fancy = prom dress or something.
If you were wearing the same pants as everyone else in the room, you had done it right, because you had correctly interpreted the “level” of the event.
Katie showed me that you can wear bold colors, statement jewelry, or a dress with a unique cut, and be perfectly appropriate without disappearing. On some level, she is probably responsible for the fact that I wore a purple dress and knee-high suede boots, instead of my suit, to a job interview. And I felt great. (Also I got the job)
Katie doesn’t know I’m posting this, so I’m not going to put any pictures of her here right now. It’s never a good surprise to find images of yourself posted around the internet without your knowledge or permission. Sorry, folks.
**Edit: with Katie’s blessing, here come pictures**