tank: Old Navy // culottes: Old Navy // backpack: c/o ESPEROS // clogs: Lotta from Stockholm via Poshmark // necklace: vintage
photos by Chelsea Laine Francis
One of my favorite pages in Feel Good, Dress Better (launching June 8!!!!) is an activity where you answer some questions about your personal style icons. The women you follow on Instagram, pin photos of to your outfit inspiration board, and look to for ideas when getting dressed in the morning. When I did the activity myself, I was happy to analyze the style of my friend Laurel.
Laurel Kinney is an Austin-based personal stylist whose style I’ve followed for years (like, a really long time). We ran in adjacent circles, but while I was still a broke college kid, she was building a successful business sharing her fashion expertise with the people of our fair city. It wasn’t until this time last year that we actually met in person, one-on-one, for the first time. I think I wore a blazer, a signature piece in most of her outfits, to our coffee date.
Before meeting Laurel in person, her style intimidated me a little. She leans a little androgynous with her outfit choices and wears fashion-forward silhouettes that are much more front-row-at-fashion-week than found-this-at-the-mall. I was enamored with her look, but only from afar. At the time, it didn’t feel accessible or “me.”
After getting to know Laurel, I found so much more playfulness in her style. Her clothing isn’t overly serious, it’s tailored but comfortable. Laurel is full of laughter and silliness (her Insta stories are a must-watch) and, from my view, she seems to value finding ease in everything. That ease, that playfulness — that was something I could get behind.
I started to think of ways to add Laurel’s “tailored ease” to my “playfully classic” style. The two actually complement each other well, so I started looking for specific pieces that fit into both categories. As soon as spring rolled around, wide-legged cropped pants and culottes moved to the top of my must-find list. I’ve long dismissed people who said skinny jeans are over (they’re so universal and they have their place in nearly every woman’s closet, so I just don’t think we’re all going to make the transition to flare jeans anytime soon), but I became interested in shaking things up in the pants department.
I know this feels like a long story that ends with some Old Navy pants, but I’m always interested in hearing from women how they form their personal style, how it ebbs and flows. I’ve been in a style shift lately and, while I still completely identify with my playfully classic personal style identity, I’m exploring what that means.
This outfit doesn’t have a defined waist. It actually doesn’t have much of a defined anything, other than the racer-front treatment on the straps (a favorite of mine!). A year ago, this outfit wouldn’t have felt like something I could wear. Now, wearing it makes me feel playful and classic and like I run this town (I don’t, but still). When I walk into a coffee shop and someone I know says “hey,” I feel like maybe other people think I’m important because I’m dressed like I might be. And, more importantly, I’m carrying myself like I am.
Who are your personal style icons? What pieces have intimidated you but you’re excited to try anyway?
P.S. I highly recommend signing up for Laurel’s newsletter! It’s my favorite one I get to my inbox and I always learn something cool from her. Obvi this post isn’t sponsored by her at all, but I’d be remiss not to share it!