In this feature, you’ll get—you guessed it—five questions and answers from an expert on the week’s topic.
I’ve always been drawn to women who nail their own vibe, who aren’t afraid to take risks, and who have a true sense of their own style, and Mary is all of that!
A little more about Mary:
Mary Higham is a style blogger and personal stylist. She believes passionately that fashion should be both fun and functional. Her own style is filled with color and whimsy, and she works with personal clients to find pieces they love.
A self-proclaimed consignment queen, Mary believes that second hand fashion is sometimes even more spectacular than buying retail, and while she has often been described as “too much” she believes that philosophy shouldn’t apply to your wallet. Her style blog, Glam in Gotham is a love letter to fashion and NYC.
Mary lives in New York City with her two dogs and dutiful Husband of Instagram/dedicated package shipper, Nate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week Mary is sharing her tips on where to start if you’re starting to find your own style. Let’s dig in!
Okay Mary, your style is so, so vibrant and unique! I think what scares lots of women about “finding their style” is that there are so many options and vibes out there. How did you land on a style that feels “you,” and what would you tell a woman who’s just starting her own style journey?
I think it is incredibly important to consider three things: Budget, Personality, and Functionality.
Budget: I will say this over and over, do not get caught up in the FOMO pressure to purchase something just because other people are purchasing it! Trends can create an urgency, and it’s easy to get caught up in other people’s hype. Stick to your own budget, and when in doubt, try to recreate it by using second hand finds!
Personality: Look, if it doesn’t feel like you, you’re just not going to wear it. For the longest time I was so caught up in the idea that I could only wear black or grey to work functions. There are plenty of work appropriate outfits in pinks and purples and blues and greens! (And in reverse, just because something is popular, an animal print or leather look, doesn’t mean that it is right for you.
Functionality: Put together the occasions you need outfits for. If you need work outfits, you probably don’t want to blow your whole budget on evening gowns. I think it’s really essential to know WHY you are buying new clothes.
I will also add that style does not mean you are committing yourself to a singular mood. If you want to be glamorous one day and a lady of athleisure the next, you can and should do that! Style is very personal and completely about putting together pieces that make you feel good.
We just did a whole week on living with less, but one area women have a hard time paring down is their closet. Tell us those timeless pieces that you reach for all the time; and what is the sign of a true “staple piece?”
I recently moved from a 3200 square foot, four-bedroom townhome in Alexandria, Virginia, to a two bedroom apartment in New York City. This forced me to significantly downsize (goodbye, auxiliary closets)!
Letting go can be really difficult. I think it’s really important to hold on to items that hold sentimental value for legitimate reasons (“I used to look really cute in this five years ago” is not a legitimate reason) and items you will absolutely wear again.
Do not hold onto something that has not fit you in years because you might change size. Someone once told me, that if your body changes sizes, you owe it to yourself to find pieces that fit and not look back.
A true staple piece is one that both fits you and is something you can name an occasion in the next year that you will wear it. I know people like to have a “capsule” wardrobe, but to be honest, I don’t think every single person needs a trench coat in their wardrobe. It might not be their aesthetic or their personality.
I would recommend having a week or two of work appropriate outfits, some casual wear, some active wear, one or two “going out” outfits, one or two “fancy” outfits (ie. to wear to weddings or parties), and one outfit that just really makes you feel sexy and attractive, and glow when you put it on.
Pieces you are keeping.
Pieces to give away to friends and family. Everyone has that one friend that always borrows your green dress or your boots and you know that she’s been dying for you to finally gift it to her.
Pieces to consign or sell. It’s a lot of work, but Poshmark can be a really nice way to pick up some nice chunks of passive income, if you can take the time to photograph your items and list them, otherwise a local consignment store might be a great option.
Pieces to donate. Goodwill or local charity shops are able to provide services based on reselling pieces donated to them!
Favorite pop culture fashion moment, and why?
I’m sure it’s different for all of us, but Cher Horowitz in her yellow plaid suit will always live rent free in my mind. Veronica Beard recently made a yellow plaid suit and I managed to get the skirt, but the blazer in my size still eludes me! [Sonni’s note: YES YES YES!!! Cosign the yellow plaid suit moment!]
Your friend has only one hour to shop for an outfit to look killer for her date night. We’re pretending we’re post-COVID for this hypothetical, and she’s at the mall. Knowing what chain stores are usually there, which ones do you direct her to, to put together the cutest outfit in the shortest amount of time?
First and foremost, I am a big believer in shopping your own closet first, but I completely understand the need to run out and supplement!
I would recommend going in with a game plan: Are you going to wear a dress, a skirt, jeans? That way you can visualize what you’re looking for, ie. “I need a cute top to go with my blue skirt.” Buy something you know you can wear again! Macys or Nordstrom will have lots of options to browse through, and likely strong clearance sections. I’ll always bop into the J.Crew at every single mall I go to because you can always find pretty classics.
If you are plus sized, Nordstrom usually has a strong plus department, and if you have access to a brick and mortar Eloquii, they have a great variety of date-worthy choices.
Tell us your favorite spots online and in IRL to find fashion inspiration!
Fashion inspo is everywhere! I like to subscribe to fashion magazine, and follow fashion brand accounts on social media. I also like to follow people whose social media accounts inspire me. Photographers, bloggers, girls who post their daily OOTD from the next down on instagram. I love seeing what people are wearing for their TikTok videos. Stream fashion shows. Peruse red carpet photos. Ask the lady walking down the block where her adorable cape coat is from.
To go out and actualize all this inspiration, I think it’s really important to shop deliberately and with intent. There is nothing wrong with buying from trend/fast fashion corporations like H&M, FashionNova, etc. but I would only buy one or two pieces from them here or there.
There are so many incredible small, women owned, and black owned designers to shop from! Sometimes I have a client with a very specific designer look in mind, wherein I will head straight to Bergdorf Goodman.
I work with a series of personal shoppers at different stores who will often send you the latest launches and can place your orders for you! They ship most places, so working with a dedicated personal shopper at a particular store can be a real asset. I do shop retail, but I also like to source a lot of my pieces from a variety of vintage, second hand, consignment, and thrift shops.
If you want to recreate a look for less, I always suggest heading to a thrift shop. You can always find one locally! Online thrift (Poshmark, Mercari) are good sites, but they do not allow you to return for fit, so I recommend if possible to go out and source in person.
Mary, thank you so much for sharing your tips and wisdom! Your style is pure sunshine, and we’re all walking away inspired.