Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cleveland Fashionista: An Oxymoron?

From my blog archive. Originally published 2/11/07.

To people in my circle, I’m known as the fashionista or style maven. I’ve even been called such in a few articles. I think it’s hilarious. We should all remember that Cleveland is a very small world and to be a fashionista here does not equate to being one in the rest of the galaxy. If I had attended Fashion Week, I would have undoubtedly dressed in a trendier version of my own style, but I still would have looked small-time compared to the REAL fashionistas of the world. 

So I started thinking - what does it mean to be a Cleveland Fashionista? Is there such a thing? And if there is, how do you define one? Here is my attempt!

1) She bases her wardrobe choices on common sense, more than anything else. She wishes to stand out NOT because she is dressed like she’s right off a runway at Bryant Park, but because she knows how to pull together a creative yet sensible outfit flawlessly. Other women can look to her for style inspiration.

2) She is aware that Cleveland is not New York, Paris or Milan. She stays up on what’s happening in the world of fashion, but doesn’t feel the need to emulate it directly, for fear of looking completely out of place. She picks and chooses the trends she wears, based on her own personal aesthetic. She knows what looks good on her. And she avoids the things that don’t.

3) She dresses for the weather. Sense wins out every time in a climate like Cleveland’s. She may buy a sexy little jacket, but it may be velvet or even fine-wale corduroy because those have a better chance of keeping her warm! She knows that while turtlenecks are going to be big for Fall ’07, they are always big in Cleveland. Brrrr!
(Still, winter after winter, this Cleveland Fashionista doesn’t learn and still wears high heel boots when the sidewalks are icy. She chalks it up to bravery. She risks life and limb because she WILL NOT be seen in a pair of Uggs. )

4) She knows that those who are consciously mega-trendy are the real fashion victims. They attempt to follow a pack they can’t compete with – the celebs and socialites of the world. A Cleveland Fashionista understands her place in the fashion universe. She knows that being stylish is of primary importance. She realizes that trends spice things up and make life fun – but she doesn’t base every purchase on what the New York glitterati or celebrities in Hollywood are wearing.

5) She has a blue-collar style ethic. She spends her clothing dollars wisely. She invests in the classics and cautiously follows trends. She doesn’t feel guilty for the occasional splurge on an item she absolutely loves. After all, fashion is a guilty pleasure. She is not shy about sometimes shopping at off-price retailers and even brags about the deals she gets.
Her style may be on the conservative side, but with a definite edge, whether it is sexy, artsy, or even a little over-the top. She is not into labels so much as what makes her look and feel her best.
While “Cleveland Fashionista” may be an oxymoron, there is no dichotomy in being a “Stylish Clevelander”. There is a lot of style in Cleveland! Get out there and be inspired!!

Kristen Kaleal is a professional wardrobe stylist who helps men and women create a unique personal style which inspires confidence and helps them achieve their goals. She also really like olives and Joey from Friends. Both remind her of pizza.

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