FASHION IS POETRY.
Just like every word and line break work together to conjure imagery and emotion, each element of finery can be curated to make a statement. Your clothes speak on your behalf and can serve as a powerful symbol of how you — and others — see yourself. To help get your creativity flowing, we tapped the minds of two local stylists for their advice on developing and elevating your closet, from eye-catching color combos to incorporating trends.
Plus, the co-stylist for our biannual fashion shoots, Zoe Branch, shares how she designs whole outfits from the racks of our area thrift stores. She is the master of effortless, timeless looks that are entirely secondhand, which is better for our planet and our bank accounts.
Annie Abbott’s style is both effortlessly refined and beautifully bold. It’s all in the details — a draped earring, a daring heel, denim with a sporty stripe. Her wardrobe is classic and approachable, and since 2017, she’s helped other Pacific Northwesterners elevate their closets with her style consultancy business, Anne Townsend.
“I love that personal style can transform your life,” she said. “A simple shift in clothing and self-perception can cultivate confidence, which can have an extremely positive impact on your relationships and career.”
Fashion has taken this University of Washington graduate to the streets of London and side-by-side with celebrities, including Kanye West and Virgil Abloh. Abbott is best known for her love of simple silhouettes and high-quality garments, making her a go-to for men and women who want to enhance their attire.
WARDROBE MUST HAVES.
When picking staples for a capsule wardrobe, acquire items that not only go with one another, but work with what is already in your closet. Never overlook the power of a plain, black dress or a white button-down. Invest in quality pieces that define and carry the foundation of your wardrobe.
1. Toteme White Poplin 2. Alaia Cotton Poplin Dress 3 Slvrlake straight-leg denim 4. The Row British Boot in Fawn 5. Celine Small Sangle Bag in Taupe
A POP OF INTRIGUE
Your statement pieces should accentuate and elevate the staples in your wardrobe. These exciting pieces also should bring life to, and reflect, your personality. I like to live by the rule of less is always more. Just like a capsule wardrobe, try to make sense of the statement pieces you acquire — they can shine on their own or be worn together for a more fashionable occasion.
6. Andrew Gn Floral Blazer 7. Staud Kenny bag in Ivy Green 8. Jennifer Behr faux pearl clip earring 9. Sebritte cropped leather flared pants 10. Aquazzura Leather Platform Sandal
I am an advocate of mixing black and brown or black and deep navy. Growing up, I was always told to not mix those colors, but I actually think unconventional tone combinations can be very chic, if done correctly.
11. Oscar de la Renta Gold-tone faux pearl necklace 2. Aleksandre Akhalkatsishvili Pencil Skirt 3. Gianvito Rossi sandal
14. MM6 Maison Margiela Bodysuit 5. Max Mara wool coat
With any trend, start with what you know and what feels natural. You don’t need to be head-to-toe vintage; try choosing a pair of sunglasses, dress, or jumpsuit as an easy way to achieve your vintage vibe. Also consider your budget — allocating more toward a staple piece vs. a trend is usually wise.
16. Zimmermann Espionage Polka Dot Pleated Chiffon Dress 17. Chloé Sunglasses 8. FRAME Belted Denim Wide-Leg Jumpsui
How can women marry style with practicality? This is the Pacific Northwest, after all, and many people are out in the elements or on their feet.
Pick practical items that are fashionable — there are plenty out there, with more becoming available all the time. Also, don’t be afraid to use an umbrella, so you can wear the statement jacket and not the black waterproof down coat.
Who do you follow for style inspiration?
My style icons are Jacqueline Kennedy, Meghan Markle, and Rihanna. I find Anna Wintour’s personal brand to be fascinating, and I am impressed by stylist Kate Young (specifically the Chanel outfits she chooses for Margot Robbie). I am not a big consumer of Instagram or the blogosphere. I find that everything can tend to appear the same and be trend-obsessed, so I like to look in less popular places for inspiration.
What are your go-to places to shop?
As a Seattleite, I frequent Nordstrom, Marios, and Totokaelo. However, if you want to be different, you have to venture out. I shop online at Net-A-Porter, Moda Operandi, and Goop. I also travel to Los Angeles, New York, and overseas for inspiration or on behalf of clients.
Style is possibly one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves. It is a lifelong journey that is constantly changing, but the pursuit of personal expression should never be overlooked. Major life milestones are an excellent time to check in with yourself and your personal brand. My passion lies in ensuring my clients are showcasing the best, most-confident version of themselves day in and day out.
The Curator of Cool — never has a moniker been as fitting as it is for Endurance Weke, a financial analyst by day who cut his teeth in the fashion industry by launching his own blog and working as a part-time stylist for Indochino, as well as offering his skills as an independent stylist.
For the Renton resident, fashion is a vehicle for self-expression, and he uses his platform as a way to educate and inspire other men.
“My style is timeless,” Weke said. “I have a versatile closet that enables me to flirt along the lines of elevated casual (taking an outfit that’s too relaxed or ‘street’ and upscaling it up with a more tasteful vibe) and relaxed formal (taking formal wear and dressing it down so that it looks more casual), while still operating within the realms of menswear.”
Menswear is far from dull. It has evolved beyond the boundaries of suits to include limitless options that can take you to the streets, the office, or late-night drinks — all with just a few tweaks. Be bold. Be adventurous. Take some risks. Weke shows us how it’s done.
You can follow him on Instagram at @Curatorfcool, or fire off some questions on Twitter with #AskEndurance.
I’d like to see guys wear bold colors. Burgundy, burnt orange, and white are very underrated, and if you can pull them off, they go well with any outfit. Also, plaid pants are a great touch. Wearing plaid and mixing up the wardrobe can help you create basic streetwear looks.
A few things can elevate your closet. Starting with your shoes: Any kind of dress boot will pair well with chinos, denim jeans, or trousers — so invest in a quality pair. Like I mentioned earlier, plaid suits are highly underrated and can be mixed and matched to create streetwear looks, and hunt around for a pair of fitted track suit pants, which can also be dressed up or down. Lastly, a peacoat and a quality crew neck or hoodie are great, everyday basics.
Up Your Workwear Game
Whatever job that you work in, you must realize that there’s more leniency in the work force to make space for comfortable attire, just as long as you’re not dressed to go to the club, pool, or back to sleep.
One thing I would stress is trying different types of trousers, with different fabrics, patterns and textures, and slowly start to mix that with your casual pieces. For example, you can wear a plaid pea coat overtop a grey hoodie, then wear some pinstripe trousers with sneakers. If you need to be more formal, wear some trousers with a nice, buttoned shirt, and pair that with sneakers or dress shoes and a bomber jacket.
Some of my favorite combinations have been a bold-colored shirt paired with some sort of a letterman jacket or denim jacket (dark blue or black), denim jeans, and either Jordan 1s or dress boots. If I want to flip that, then I’ll throw on some tapered trousers that go well with some high-top sneakers, and pair that with a T-shirt and top it off with a denim or leather biker jacket with a hat.
Fly Style Deconstructed
A denim or leather biker jacket is an essential. You can use it to upscale a very casual look, or create a much more relaxed, formal look.
A casual sneaker — Common Project, Adidas Stan Smith, Comme des Garçon X Converse, Nike Air Jordan 1, etc. Some would say these are high-fashion sneakers, but they are a good staple piece to have. They’ll last a long time and add an extra flare to any outfit.
Accessories are a good touch as well. Some have an affinity for watches, others for rings and bracelets. They’re a nice way to add personality.
Make sure you have the right, fitted denim jeans. In the fall and winter, dark blue, black, and navy jeans are must-haves. The wrong color-wash can make any outfit look ill-fitting and outdated. Even taking time to visit a tailor so your jeans fit better will enhance your look significantly.
Being able to make use of patterns, textures, and layers during the fall and winter season can help you create more vivid outfits.
I love the colorful, floral shirts that I’ve been seeing lately. And, to be clear, I do not mean the floral vacation shirts that some men tend to wear on vacation. Other styles I love are the old-school bowling shirts, and soft pastels with the wide collars. Lastly, knit shirts with stitched accents are a great addition to your wardrobe.
Who do you follow for style inspiration?
I follow a lot of stylists just to see what they’re putting together. Some of them are: Dex Robinson, Brandwills, Apuje Kalu, The Parker Mays Collective, and Loving Rachel. I also follow Allen Onyia, Jamal Adams, Waraire Boswell, Iman Shumpert, Tyrod Taylor, DeAndre Hopkins, and DeAndre Jordan, to name a few.
What are your go-to places to shop?
I mostly like bargain shopping at vintage stores, and then there’s the occasional Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Zara. There are also quite a few boutiques in Seattle I’ve stumbled upon, including Estate, Blue Owl Workshop, and BAIT.
I’m always willing to help anyone find their own style. I don’t care about brands or prices. What I aim to do is help someone find their confidence and feel comfortable in their own skin. To help someone find what you their style is to help them find what their cool is.
I challenge men to: try and find what their own uniform and aesthetic is by curating your own cool. Find what your style is and create timeless looks. Maintain the cool and continue to stay fly in your own manner.
Secondhand clothes don’t always scream fashion: If you don’t know what to look for, an outfit found at Goodwill can end up looking just as cheap as it was.
As a lifelong thrifter, I’ve always enjoyed the process of curating a unique style from clothes I find at thrift stores. You might not think it, but there are a lot of interesting, classy, and timeless looks that secondhand stores have to offer, if you have a good eye and a bit of patience. Plus, thrifting is better for the environment. Here’s what I look for when I dig through local thrift stores to put together full outfits like these, both of which came together for less than $30 total. — Zoe Branch
Goodwill Juanita Kirkland
This Goodwill is well-organized, clean, and always stocked with treasures. What’s nice about this Goodwill location — especially for the beginning thrifter — is that it has a curated section called Fashion Focus, where quality brand names and trendier items have already been sorted for you.
If you’re not in the mood to make your way through all the racks in search of something you love, the smaller Fashion Focus section is more manageable and less overwhelming. At the Kirkland location, you’ll find brands like Betsy Johnson, Ralph Lauren, and Lucky Brand in this area.
I snagged a Façonnable denim button down — high-end, 100 percent cotton, and designed in France — for $10; a loose, white tee for $8; and a soft, striped tank top for $4. I love basics like these, because I know they’ll go with everything I already own.
Bellevue Thrift Culture
On the third floor of Bellevue Square, Bellevue Thrift Culture is tucked away next to the kid’s play area.
In this store, I especially like the collection of women’s shoes: There’s a wide variety of looks and sizes, none of which seem too worn. I love this pair of barely worn Rachel Comey heels — the pattern is easy to pair but bold enough to notice. Retail value on these shoes new would be anywhere from $400 to $500; Bellevue Thrift Culture was asking $25 for them.
Beyond the shoe selection, my favorite thing about this store is that 100 percent of its profits benefit Bellevue LifeSpring, which supports local children living in poverty.
Don’t limit yourself to the section you think of as “your size.”
Especially with women’s clothing, sizing varies so drastically across brands and time periods. Just look at all the sections, and let yourself be drawn to what you’re drawn to. Try it on. You never know what will end up surprising you.
You can usually tell what’s cheap just by touching it. The same goes for higher-quality pieces. They just feel better. Run your hands along clothes as you move through each rack. If you like how something feels, pull it out to examine it further. I look for things to be made with primarily natural materials, like cotton and wool, which last longer and are better for the environment. If something is mostly made of polyester, I usually skip it: It’s cheap and will pill and stain easily.
Get to know the color sales days at your local thrift store.
To keep inventory turning over, most secondhand stores will mark each tag with a color, then on different days of the week have a “Red Tag Sale,” etc. If you get familiar with a store, you can pinpoint what kinds of items are on sale on which days and plan your thrifting outings around that for even more savings.
Don’t give up just because you don’t find something right away.
Thrifting takes patience and can be hit or miss. If you stick with it and learn what kinds of pieces and fabrics look best on your body — and which days these things tend to be on sale — you’ll be happy you did. You’ll have a more interesting wardrobe as a result, and for way less than you’d spend anywhere else.