In this Stylish Thoughts interview, I’d like to introduce you to a very stylish woman Sara Kimmel, who I’ve come to know through my 7 Steps to Style program. She from the USA and has her own innate sense of style that I hope you enjoy.
What is the secret to great style?
I think it’s a combination of things.
First, it’s understanding the mechanics of your unique coloring, shape and features. I’m a firm believer in having one’s colors done to determine a palette that enhances you. Sure you can wear every color, however, what makes the biggest difference is finding and understanding your best colors. It makes putting outfits together so much easier, shopping simpler, and you don’t end up with a wardrobe of orphans. Likewise, color and value contrasts, make a huge difference. I was totally unaware of the concepts until I found your blog, Inside out Style Blog. The concepts were game-changing.
Then it’s understanding your unique body shape, highlighting your best features, while minimizing the “less than” areas. We all have them.
Once you’ve got the mechanics, the driver of great style is your personality. While mechanics are important, your personality, ultimately creates great style, that gets noticed and recognized, because it honors you.
Personality is understanding who you are inside, your values, what fabrics, details, silhouettes just make you sing inside and what rules you are willing to break. You can copy other’s style all day long, but unless you are in sync with yourself internally, I really believe you are just dressing a mannequin. My style is not yours, nor should it be, as each of us are unique, we just have to be bold enough to claim it.
By tending to those concepts, you create a very harmonious composition, just as all forms of great art do, whatever the medium.
Style to me is a form of art.
What’s the secret to looking polished?
For me, attention to details is the key ingredient and secret to looking polished.
Details like well-fitting garments. Find someone to handle simple alterations, as mass-produced clothes, often do not fit well. Having a waist taken in, hems altered, all these small details create enormous differences in how our clothes fit us, are so much more comfortable to wear, and create a polished appearance.
Establish a quick way to style your hair and apply minimal makeup to create a pulled-together look, even on those days that are rushed. You never know who you might run into on a dash to the grocery store.
When putting an outfit together, paying attention to the small simple things, like matching one of the colors in a multi-patterned blouse with your skirt color, or adding unique hand made earrings, making sure your shoes/handbag are well maintained. All these simple things work together to create a polished appearance.
How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?
I’m never the first in, nor the inventor of a trend, never have been, but I use my Instagram feed as a way to keep fresh and current on trends, following various bloggers, brands etc. Scrolling through the images, I identify outfits that pique my interest, then I use Pinterest to create a board based on those items that resonate with me.
From there, I look into my wardrobe to see if items I currently have can provide the “feel/look” of the images that are currently trending. Often, I find that I have things that replicate the look, and if not, then I put it on my shopping list to try. Trying trends on in a store is a free way to see if it’s something I want to incorporate or leave for others.
I think this approach means my wardrobe has a more timeless/curated feel, which is one of my hallmarks.
How would you describe your personal style?
That’s easy, as I have a style recipe, which I highly recommend figuring out, as it’s my “North Star” to ensure my style stays true and I don’t get sidetracked buying items that are beautiful but don’t work into my wardrobe. Doing this, my style has an innate consistency, even as I have vastly different looks and situations to dress for.
My personal style recipe is Classy, Opulent, Detailed, and Timeless. I want my ensembles to look effortless, elegant without feeling stuffy/uptight. I love opulence and choose accessories, fabrics, designs that have those characteristics. Detailed means exceptional tailoring, construction, and interesting design. Lastly timeless, my silhouettes are enduring, the fabrics I choose are timeless, like wool, cashmere, cotton, denim, velvet, damask.
Do you have a signature piece or style?
I feel like I have both.
My signature piece is statement necklaces. Even as necklace trends are for small dainty ones, I prefer dramatic bold pieces to keep the focus in my portrait area and they are often conversation starters. Because I’m relatively tall, my frame can handle the size whereas small dainty pieces, frankly, just get lost on me, unless I layer them, which I do on occasion. I’ve loved necklaces since I was in high school, so 40 years of collecting means I have a pretty extensive collection, but I work to incorporate a different one each day.
In conjunction with that, my overall style has an opulence about it, even when I’m very casual. I appreciate history, beautiful fabrics and design and I love to incorporate pieces, new, consigned and vintage that give that feel/impression.
What’s your favorite short cut to style?
Investing in a color consultation and having a palette. Wearing your best colors, even in your exercise clothes, or loungewear, sets one apart and makes you look lively, healthy and interesting, even if you are a simple t-shirt and jeans gal. So many women default to black and dark neutrals, and that’s fine if it really suits your coloring, but for most women, it does not. Our world is full of color, why wouldn’t you want to showcase your own?
What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received?
The best piece of advise I’ve ever received is from reading Shakespeare of all things, when the playwright wrote the immortal lines, “to thine own self be true”. We need to be ourselves, nobody else can be, nor should be. We live in a fast-paced world, your style instantly speaks volumes, without you ever saying a word. What message are you sending? Is it reflecting your true self, with all your goals and aspirations?
My mother, was and continues to be my inspiration, even as she has passed. My mom was never a slave to fashion, she took care with her appearance, knew what worked for her figure, and was always beautifully dressed for whatever the occasion, be it working, performing mundane chores, or going to a party. She was a class act in manner, dress, and form, and I very much wanted to emulate her.
She was born in 1925, endured the great depression living on a farm in the Midwest, USA. She and her sisters, all took an interest in clothing/sewing, guided by college extension service education programs, notably 4H. “The Lost Art of Dress: The Woman who Once Made America Stylish” by Linda Przxbyszewski is a wonderful book that explains that time in US history.
Basically, Mom learned and passed on to me the concept that knowledge, not money, was key to a beautiful wardrobe. Understanding simple design principles – harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis, was the way for woman of any income level to feel confident and engaging for whatever life threw at them.
So my answers, in essence, have come full circle. Knowledge is so critical to every aspect of our lives, and I argue that the best style starts with knowledge. It’s not vain or selfish to take time to acquire it. I think every woman owes it to herself to take that time, because I know for me personally, in order to do my best, I’ve got to feel my best. My wardrobe needs to, not be a frustration, but rather an integral empowering part, in achieving my objectives while being authentic.
Sara’s style is similar to mine. Also like Sara, I recently had an in-person color consultation and that has made such a huge difference in not only simplifying shopping and dressing, but also amplified my ability to really dress stylishly and feel confident.
Very interesting interview. Thanks.
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview with Sara. As a member of your 7 Steps to Style program, I have been fortunate enough to be familiar with Sara’s grace, beauty, intelligence and incredible style. Her posts and photos always delight and inspire me and I will refer to this interview again and again. Sara is also a very gracious person who takes the time to comment in a constructive and kind way to her style sisters.
Lovely style, lovely rich post. Thank you Sara and Imogen.