Monday, December 28, 2015

Women and clothes: Jennifer Slagle

Jennifer Slagle kills it with her style. 

I once told her she could show up to work dressed in a burlap sack and make it look chic. In fact, Jen would probably throw on a belt and cute boots to complete the look. Only she could get away with it.

We met three years ago at Anthropologie and have become good friends ever since. I've always admired the way she pulls an outfit together and how she uses clothes to reference a time period or pay homage to past trends. Jen loves to play with clothes.

When the Ohio native isn't offering much sought-after style advice to her customers at Anthropologie, you'll find her tending to her garden, pursuing her photography or building up her business, WE (Weddings&Events), where she offers interior styling and floral arranging services.

A true style maven with an eye for beauty.

Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): You have such amazing style. How would you describe it?
Jennifer Slagle (JS): Sub/urban. Boho/vintage.

JCS: Where do you shop? For the vintage items, where do you go treasure hunting?
JS: I shop wherever I find something I like. Target, TJ Maxx, Anthropologie, Free People. I have a favorite bracelet from a souvenir shop. It was a dollar. Honestly, if I find something I like it doesn't matter where it's from. For vintage, I shop thrift stores like Unique and Salvation Army.

JCS: Do you have a fashion muse?  
JS: I'm not sure that I have a muse (I've been compared to Mia Farrow) but mostly I'm inspired by my mood.

JCS: You're a dead ringer for Mia Farrow! You know that's one of the first things that popped into my head when I first met you. OK Mia, er-- Jen. Worst fashion crime?
JS: I had a tail haircut in elementary school.

JCS: Haha!! OMG, really?!! OK, what about favorite fashion trend (current or past)?
JS: Menswear tailoring, a la Katharine Hepburn. I love the extension that menswear tailoring gives to a woman's body. For example, a blazer. I have little shoulders so the fit through that part of my body makes them a more pronounced. Then the piece tapers at the waist, giving me a stronger silhouette. 

JCS: Can you remember the first time you were conscious of a thing called "fashion?"
JS: In elementary school a few things stood out to me: my first pair of Adidas, Jordache jeans that I begged my mom for for so long that when I finally bought them with my own savings, I got them at Hills, a discount store. And the aforementioned tail haircut.

JCS: What is one item of clothing or accessory you wear or carry with you every day?
JS: Sunglasses and bobby pins are both extremely necessary. I know you said one but both are so important!

JCS: What sorts of things do you do -- clothing of makeup or hair wise -- to feel sexy or alluring?
JS: When I have my hair up, put on a great pair of earrings and wear a pop of color on my lips. I wear a bun most days to just keep my hair up and out of the way. But I love a great chignon or Heidi braids, as us Anthro girls call them. My lip color can be subtle nudes, or if I'm really trying to up the game a berry lip or classic red.

JCS: What outfit makes you most happy?
JS: If I am comfortable, then just about any outfit. I don't wear anything that doesn't make me happy. Lately however, this white trapeze blouse I got at Anthropologie and a cropped trouser with a bold black and white statement necklace, a red lip and a high bun (for work). At home, my black distressed Target overalls, black thermal, plaid Pendleton coat (that I stole from my husband) and my camel wide-brimmed hat (and a berry lip if I'm out running errands or having drinks with the girls).

JCS: If you could take a fashion time machine back to any decade, which one would you pick?
JS: I would pick the 1940s. The hemlines were a little longer, separates were really starting to come into play. Silhouettes were more natural and women were more alluring. And designers really started having some fun with prints.  

JCS: Where do you go, what do you read, watch, etc. to get fashion inspiration?
JS: W, Elle and Vogue magazines were my go-to, before the era of fashion bloggers. Now I spend most of my time scanning the Internet. There are four blogs I follow: Man Repeller, Stockholm Streetstyle, love, -j., and The Sartorialist. Scott Schuman (of The Sartorialist) made street style its own fashion genre and has the most effect on me. The layering I often see on his beautiful picks changed my coat game tremendously. I often will wear two to four layers topped with some sort of fashion coat and a scarf.

JCS: How has your background (where you grew up, your cultural heritage, etc.) affected how you dress?
JS: I went to a handful of schools growing up in Toledo, Ohio. I think because of that I learned to adapt easily to my surroundings. Perhaps it's why I'm so well-rounded with fashion and why it's my environment that inspires me. I take what I like from my surroundings and layer it into my style. 

Toledo is like any other small town with its pockets of different cultures and subcultures. I always had a desire for new experiences and while forming my identity through my teens and early 20s I was able to immerse myself into a great music scene. Particularly at this bar called Frankie's. I spent a lot of time listening to music and dancing many nights away. On a weekend you could have a great indie band, hip hop, rap, metal or goth group playing upstairs and downstairs you could hear house music or any other genre of dance music. My style during this time was all over the place -- from romantic layering of lace to a slip from Victoria's Secret with platforms or wearing JNCO baggy jeans, wife beaters and Adidas. I also worked at a bar called the City Lounge in Perrysburg. You could hear swing, rhythm & blues, jazz and other forms of Americana. My vintage wardrobe expanded considerably at this time. There was not a flea market, thrift store or vintage shop that I didn't scour.

JCS: That's such a cool insight. On that note, how do you layer Cleveland into your style? What about Northeast Ohio -- the people, the culture, even the weather -- inspires you?
JS: I've lived in Cleveland for 18 years. I've had a daughter, gotten married, worked at Anthropologie for almost a decade, eaten a lot of great food, and I can finally say in my 40s that I've come into my own. I still enjoy going to shows, going dancing, traveling to any coast or island. My love for the water was spawned early on growing up on boats and now, married to a man who aspires to be a waterman. Cleveland has been great for me. It's rounded out the rough edges and I love the seasons here. They are so dramatic (most years) and it really forces you to change up your wardrobe. I definitely have learned a lot more about layering after living here.    

JCS: Describe your figure.
JS: It's like a giraffe -- long neck and legs with a curvy body. I love my body when I've been working out or just being consistently active. But during the winter... Ugh!!

JCS: Can you say a bit about how your mother's figure and style have been passed down to you or not?
JS: My mom is a petite 5'4" frame. Our faces are pretty identical. She loves fashion, too, but she definitely is way more conservative in her style. Where I almost try anything once.

JCS: Speaking of mothers and daughters, what kind of style advice do you share with your own daughter, Emma?
JS: Always wear what feels natural.

JCS: What kind of style advice do you give your customers at Anthropologie? What's the one fashion question you get asked all the time?
JS: The same as what I say to Emma: It can't feel forced. Your outfit should feel like a natural extension of your body. So rocking it all the time -- even if it's your athleisure wear. A big question I get asked by my customers at Anthro is, "How can I wear this or incorporate this into my wardrobe?" Take a chambray shirt (my favorite piece), for instance. You could pair it with a blazer, a fit and flare party skirt with a boot or bootie. It could be a second layer over a tank or over a summer dress on a cool evening, for a more casual look. 

JCS: What do you admire about how other women present themselves?

JS: Confidence. Because it looks good on everyone, no matter what they're wearing! 

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Slagle and Anthropologie.