Rhodes College sophomore Sarah Knowles began college as a business major, because she wanted to go into fashion. She quickly realized, however, that the practical business major wasn't for her.
Now she's majoring in English Literature and minoring in Studio Art.
But that doesn't mean she's lost her interest in fashion or style or her dream of being in the fashion business.
In this outfit, she combines black leather Michael Kors boots — a present from her mom — jeans, a tank from Urban Outfitters, a black long-sleeve button down, and a faux fur coat.
But let's talk about the jeans, which Sarah says are very comfortable.
"I would probably wear them everyday if the fabric wasn't so thin. They're starting to wear out," she says.
I know what you're thinking: Of course they're starting to wear out, they have holes in the knees.
"The holes are intentional," Sarah says. "I did like them as they were, but I didn't really wear them very much until I made the holes, strangely enough. Now I basically wear them all year round!
"I must say, though, I do get tired of people asking if I fell down or if I was attacked by an animal or something. The best is when my grandma says, 'Oh, you poor thing, tell your mother to get you some new pants.'"
I get it: Sometimes your knees just have to be free. Frankly, that was basically my motto in high school.
On another note, just between you and me, I think we're going to be learning a lot about layering this week. Stay tuned.
I think I've made my feelings known on bib necklaces (pro on the concept, not on the name), and here is a cute one on Penelope.
"I recently wore it to the Phoenix Club party all dressed up, but the beauty of it is that it can easily be transitioned to the day," she says. "Actually, the beauty of it is that it was missing a stone so it was 75 percent off at Dillard's."
In this picture, she's also wearing a tie-dyed wrap from Gianni Bini, a designer that she just discovered and loves, Bebe jeans, and her Naughty Monkey boots.
And she paired it all with a turtleneck from Target. If I haven't mentioned it before, I think Penelope has shown us how easy it can be to mix and match basics from Target with vintage pieces or more name brand things.
What else have we learned? Animal print can tie things together, it's fun to mix up colors and patterns, and we might need to ask Penelope's mom to do this feature.
Again, I want to thank Penelope McDowell for being this week's Fashion Plate and Gwyn Fisher and Shalishah Franklin for taking this week's photos.
(If you want to nominate a Fashion Plate, shoot me an email.)
Today I'm pretty sure most of you out there are going to learn something.
This is one of Penelope's casual, hanging out outfits, with an oversized sweater from the '70s that used to be her mom's, a yellow tank from Target, and patent leather Tory Burch flats. And leggings. Or, wait. I'll just let Penelope explain.
"I know there is a constant struggle with the 'leggings as pants' look, but these provide a nice compromise — jeggings. That's right. Half jeans, half leggings, all awesome," she says. "I think Jessica Simpson made these up and they are a great substitute for skinny jeans."
This is about as get down to business as Penelope gets at MPACT Memphis.
According to her. Not me. Just for the record.
The foundation for this outfit is a gray turtleneck from Target and a pair of Bebe jeans. The blazer is from her mom. Well, it's from J. Crew, but her mom got it for her. Her mom also got her these shoes, also from J. Crew.
"She has a better sense of style than I do, but I'm still taller. ... Sorry, Mom," she says.
"The blazer goes with every single thing ... ever."
The shoes, which have a camel's hair texture, also go with everything.
"That's the thing about animal print. So many people shy away from it, but it's extremely versatile, because it helps to blend all sorts of colors and shades," she says.
And if you're wondering why Penelope is looking down in the previous picture, she's obviously looking at her shoes! See.
A longtime Michael Stars fan, Penelope ordered pretty much everything from his line when it was on Rue-La-La (if you want to belong, email me and I'll be happy to share an invitation with you. Even though it means my clicking fingers will have to be that much faster to beat you to the deals. But that's just an aside).
This lightweight turtleneck dress was one such purchase.
The scarf, she says, was an impulse purchase from Target that she can wear with just about anything. The tights were also a Target purchase.
"I'm constantly cold, so I have to find ways to stay warm when it's sunny, but breezy out," she says.
And the Naughty Monkey boots we saw yesterday.
"The boots are also pretty versatile," she says. "My mom got them for me for Christmas one year and I love how they're not quite brown or gray, but somewhere in between."
Penelope McDowell is MPACT Memphis' communications person. More importantly for my purposes, every time I see her, I love what she's wearing.
Somehow, I convinced her during the same week of MPACT's Soul of the City gala — where they released The Voice of MPACT — to show us a few outfits. And somehow she convinced MPACT director Gwyn Fisher to take time out of her busy schedule to snap a few pictures.
With spring just having sprung (tho we all know how dicey that's been), she says this outfit is half-winter and half-spring.
The cardigan is J. Crew, the jeans are J brand, and the boots are Naughty Monkey. The sleeveless turtleneck is one she bought at a boutique in college.
Penelope says she likes matching colors and patterns, thus the addition of the leopard print belt from Express.
"It took me a long time to get into the skinny belt trend and now that I finally am ... I think it's going away," she says.
But her favorite part of the outfit? Her owl earrings.
"I bought [them] on my first spring break in Acapulco. A year later, owls were everywhere and the trend is still going strong."
This is very exciting. Finally, someone has recognized my talent as a style judge.
The entry fee is $10, and the grand prize is a two-night stay at the Shellcrest Guesthouse in the Village.
They haven't given me any criteria to base my judging upon, but I can tell you right now that my decision will be influenced on cuteness, how well it matches with the rest of the outfit, number of flowers, and overall height. You want to win, just use the woman below as your guide. Or Carmen Miranda but Eastery and without the fruit.
We started this week with re-purposing, and we'll end it that way, too.
Sophorn originally got this dress from a vintage store in Atlanta about 10 years ago to wear to a '20s party.
It's a size 8, and originally, it had cap sleeves.
"I loved the pleated bottom so I took off the sleeves to make it more my style," Sophorn says. "To deal with the larger size, I usually wear this with a wide belt, which I have several of."
This red one came from Eye-Con Couture on Union.
"The shoes, which I specifically bought for the extreme points at the end, are from Dillard's," she says. "I've heard this makes you appear taller and I need as much help as I can get."
Slimmer, too. Not that Sophorn needs any help with that, but if someone else does, pointy shoes are a good way to go.
(Personal side story: I have a pair of pointy slingbacks that I hate to wear. The heel is a little short in comparison to my other shoes, and every time I look down at the pointy bits, I think, these are witchy shoes. BUT. Whenever I see pictures of me wearing said heels ... I think I really should wear those more often, b/c they look great.)
So things we've learned this week:
1) You don't just have to wear something once, even if it's a bridesmaid dress.
2) Get creative. Dressing is an experiment.
3) Just b/c something isn't your size doesn't mean you can't rock it.
and 4) Pointy shoes are awesome.
Let me take a moment to thank Sophorn McRae for sharing her closet/personal style with us and her photographer Annabella Brandon for doing such a super fab job.
Sophorn had never bought a silver dress before getting this one for last year's AIA Memphis Architecture Awards.
She got both the dress and the necklaces from Lux, "probably my favorite store in Memphis," she says.
"Since it's right down the street from my house, it's my emergency fashion source, and the owner Tad always suggests the cutest things to try on."
The slingbacks are from a shop in Portland.
"I am not sure I would wear them with the dress again," she says, "but dressing is always an experiment, right?"
Target has their cute rain boots in stock right now and on sale for $20.
Don't wait until it's the day before Music Fest and the forecast is predicting rain, rain, and more rain. B/c, trust me, it will be difficult to find them then.
Anyone know where else in town has rain boots right now?
Anthropologie kicked off its new location in Saddle Creek last night with a fundraising party for the Dixon ... and it was PACKED!
There were cute spring dresses ...
and these things ...
and cute, cute aprons. (So cute, in fact, that I saw one of the workers walking around and thought, That is the cutest dress. And then I realized it was a half-apron over her dress!)
And for those of you who asked me about this already, here's your answer: Yes, the store may have just opened, but they already have a sale room.
What did I say last Friday?
They might as well rename it Denim Day.
Sophorn says she wears jeans almost every Friday, but still likes to wear heels with them. This particular pair is from Dillards.
In addition to her jeans — from Forever 21, one of the only stores that carry a size 0 — she paired a brown cowl neck shirt from Coco & Lily, and a striped wrap sweater from Old Navy.
"The clutch is a Gecko Traders purse made in my home country of Cambodia from old fish bags," she says. "I bought it locally from Delphinium, but I know it still helps those women in Cambodia support their families."
Socially responsible and stylish to boot.
While getting her architecture degree at Auburn, she did a design for Afghan refugees as part as of interior architecture thesis: "I included, with the interior architecture and furniture design, a redesign of the burka which I sewed and modeled. It was made more functional but still seemed avant-garde. I wish I remembered where I put those photo files," she says.
Sophorn says that Thursday nights seem to be her new night out: "I usually go to design networking events Thursday nights," she says.
For this particular day, she wore a ballet-inspired bubble skirt from Eye-Con Couture on Union with a scarf and a short-sleeved cardigan sweater that she got from her mother-in-law.
"She finds cute things, mostly at SteinMart, so I would guess that's where these come from," she says. "I love this scarf for the pop of color with all the black I wear but it's also very warm and soft."
Sophorn has about 8 scarves b/c her mother-in-law gets her a new one every year.
I get the sense that Sophorn is not a traditionalist with her clothes. Take, for instance, yesterday's bridesmaid dress turned balloon blouse. In this outfit, she's wearing the skirt high on her waist with a polka dotted belt she got at a boutique in Oxford. But she says she also wears the skirt below the waist if she's just wearing it with a shirt or a tank top.
And the high-heeled boots? Guess.
Also, Sophorn and Annabella were nice enough to send me a close-up, which shows the really great texture of the scarf and the sweater.
A few months ago, I stumbled across norococo, a wonderful little blog that had me instantly charmed.
In fact I developed a little bit of a blog crush on it. It is just so *pretty.* And the music — well, let's just say I plugged my headphones in and listened for hours.
Norococo is the online home of Formus Architects project manager and graphic designer Sophorn McRae. I didn't really know Sophorn, but I knew that anyone with a blog this stylish probably had some tips to teach us.
I don't like to brag, but ... I was right.
In this outfit, Sophorn is wearing what appears to be a lemon yellow balloon blouse with an Old Navy pencil skirt and a skinny orange belt from J. Crew. (Seriously, I am loving orange.)
Beside her is a white cardigan that she wears when it's cold in the office, and her shoes are from Shoe-Nami. (This isn't her office, by the way. This is in a vacant spot above her office, in the Tennessean Building in Court Square. I believe it is available for lease.)
But let's get back to that balloon blouse, shall we?
Three year ago, she was a bridesmaid and she had to find a dress that was yellow. At the last minute, she found one at Macy's on the clearance rack ... only it was a size 10. Sophorn obviously isn't.
For the wedding, she belted the extra material and used it to make pleats.
And now she's found that she can tuck it into a pencil skirt and wear it to work. She says she has to be careful the end of the bridesmaid dress doesn't peek out the bottom, but what a great idea! I love this sort of re-use.
How many of us have dresses in our closet that we never wear again? I would have never thought about using them as a blouse and wearing them to work.
Sophorn volunteered with Dress for Success for several years as a "personal shopper," putting together outfits that were work appropriate but stylish for their clients going to interview for a job or just starting work. Seeing this, I have no doubt she did a wonderful job.
Exciting news! In celebration of Earth Day and spring and clothes, Style Sessions is going to be hosting a Swap and Shop party Thursday, April 22nd, at Hunt Phelan.
Participants (and by that, I mean you guys! Well, unless you actually are a guy, and then you can come, but we won't have any men's clothing) can bring clean, gently used, spring- and summer-season women's clothing in exchange for a voucher. The voucher entitles you to "swap" something out from the inventory of what other people have already donated.
If you have nothing to donate but still want to purchase something, you can buy a voucher for $5.
So it's part cocktail party, part clean out your closet, and part refresh your wardrobe ... all in an economically and environmentally friendly way.
Proceeds will go to charity, and we'll also have a couple of drop-off points if you want to get your vouchers before the event.
More deets — as well as the fine print and the facebook page — to come, so stay tuned!