Thursday, March 19, 2015

Women and clothes: Kristin Davidson

Something happens to Kristin Davidson when she talks about fashion. Her sentences become more emphatic. The rhythm of her speech gets quicker. She comes alive. She gets philosophical. I love gabbing about clothes, style and trends with this girl. She's so passionate!

I first met Kristin at Anthropologie. She and I started our first week together. I remember her being soft-spoken, kind and knowledgable. In the almost-two years she's been a manager, Kristin has become an integral part of the leadership team and to all of us she's simply "KDav."

When she's not working at the store, you can find the Rochester, New York native waxing poetic on her blog, Sheerchalk. And rocking brimmed hats like no one's business.  


Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): What is one item or accessory you carry with you or wear every day?
Kristin Davidson (KD): Within the past year I became a total hat person. It's the one accessory I wear or carry with me every single day. My love for wide-brimmed hats developed when I began my career with Anthropologie. As someone who aspires to always feel "put together" whenever I go out, adding brimmed hats to my wardrobe helps me with that.

When I was a little girl, my mom was a beautician and her "salon" was in our basement. So I was exposed to beauty and hair at a very young age. I think over the years I put a lot of pressure on myself to always have beautiful hair and to sort of be known for it. I think hats have allowed me to eliminate this pressure, making it nearly impossible for me to have a bad hair day.

JCS: Does fashion matter? Why or why not?
KD: Fashion totally matters. Well, it matters to those it matters to. It matters to me. It gives me a feeling that I matter. Fashion is such an ambiguous word though, and for this reason alone it matters.

JCS: Your fashion muse?
KD: Diana Vreeland is my fashion muse. I discovered her about three or four years ago. I admire her for her individuality, which in my eyes is the foundation for why her influence is so special, admirable and strong. She became a fashion icon out of pure love for beautiful garments and her entire lifestyle was a reflection of that. 

Diana, as I know her, is a woman I feel relatable to. As someone who finds it challenging to find a common position about the impact of fashion on my life, she is the one person that helps me to feel connected. Her career represents exactly what I'd like to accomplish in fashion. Being a stylist sounds dreamy, but I'm not sure if that's where my heart is because I love design. I love the magic of fibers and fabrics and the beauty of the end product. Maybe I should end up working at a museum. The Met perhaps.

JCS: Worst fashion crime (past or current)?
KD: I don't know that I believe in the idea of fashion crimes. If anything, the "crimes" keep things interesting. I have this one book called "The End of Fashion" by Teri Agins which pretty much concludes how fashion, in its most organic form, has come to an end. And while I remain neutral, there are some key elements (social media, design, culture, New York, the economy, technology, travel, etc.) that continue to fuel this industry and fashion crimes are definitely one of them. That being said, the only fashion crime I can identify is not believing in the value of its existence.

JCS: Can you remember the first time you were conscious of a thing called "fashion?"  
KD: I thought about this question a few years ago. I always thought of fashion as the same thing as style but I've come to realize that this is not really a valid thought process. Even as a very young child, clothing, style and what I wore was always uber-important to me. It wasn't until I studied Fashion Fundamentals (the introductory course at Kent State's Fashion School) that I truly understood fashion. I think this is because I looked at fashion as culture or art before seeing it as an industry. 

Looking at fashion as an industry helped me gain consciousness of what "this thing called fashion" was really about. Fashion impacts our economy and even how we operate as a nation and as a world. I began to understand all of the dynamics of how and why fashion exists and realized that it's about so much more than style.  

JCS: Describe your figure.
KD: It's sort of hard for me to describe my figure because I feel like I don't have one. Another one of my insecurities. I'm definitely proportioned, but I don't have many curves. My thighs are larger. That's a genetic thing. All the women in my family have larger thighs! My shoulders are a bit broad and I have a smaller chest. My chest is so small that most days I don't even bother wearing a bra.

JCS: What outfit makes you most happy?
KD: Layers -- the fundamental things of an outfit -- make me most happy. Because of this, I usually stick to neutral colors. In warm climates I love flowy, basic cotton dresses that have no structure and a soft silhouette. I also like to layer with a maxi necklace and a scarf to elongate my body. Sometimes I'll add a denim vest. When it's cold, I essentially do the same thing, but the base becomes something heavier like a thick legging or a fine gauge, flowy sweater. The layers become heavier, consisting of knit scarves, oversized sweaters, boots, socks and structured coats. 

JCS: What is the first "investment" piece you ever bought? Why did you purchase it?
KD: I don't really own any investment pieces. I have some really special pieces that were great bargains. My leather Michael by Michael Kors moto jacket is probably the most expensive piece I own. I had to have it. My wardrobe couldn't function without it.  

JCS: What are you trying to do or achieve when you dress?
KD: When I dress I am trying to achieve a feeling. There are all kinds of factors that come with each day, such as my mood, my destination, the weather, etc. that impacts my ability to achieve the feeling. But mostly, I just want to feel comfortable, fun and strong at all times.

JCS: When do feel most sexy?
KD: I feel most sexy in a red lip or over-the-knee boots. Wearing an extremely high-heel shoe (like five inches!) is probably when I reach a peak of feeling sexy. I prefer a thick heel. When you add this idea to an over-the-knee boot, my feeling of sexy grows even more!

JCS: How has your background affected the way you dress?
KD: My background has totally influenced the way I dress. Ultimately it's about the freedom to express myself. And choosing what to wear is one of the coolest ways to do that. I fell in love with clothes at a young age. Any time I earned money, I went shopping. I remember being a third grader and purchasing a pair of patchwork denim shorts and wearing them out! I can remember getting yelled at by my mom for wearing these shorts, but they were so cool. As a New Yorker, even though it was upstate, I grew up in a culture of boldness, which is reflected in the things I choose to wear. 

JCS: What would you say is "you" and "not you?" 
KD: "Not me" is anything safe or normal. But perception is important to me, too. I care, to a reasonable extent, what others think of me. So I go to the line, but I never cross it. I guess I try to embody a "when in Rome" mindset when it comes to "what is me." Others could probably answer this question better than I can. I'm not sure what's me and what's not me. I don't like setting boundaries for myself.

JCS: OK, last question. What do you admire about how other women present themselves?
KD: Women who are exactly who they need and want to be!

Opening and closing photos by Jennifer Cho Salaff. 
All other photos courtesy of Kristin Davidson.
Photo of Diana Vreeland by Richard Avedon.