Recently, we had the chance to chat fashion with Julie Watson, wardrobe consultant extraordinaire and founder of juliewatsonstyle. She shared with us some excellent tips and tidbits on dressing your best, Chicago style, and her coveted career!
SITM: How would you define Chicago style? What makes it unique?
J.W.: Chicago style is diverse, and that’s what makes it (and the city!) so great. I think the “Midwestern stereotype” still exists out there, particularly among the fashion community on the coasts. It always makes me giggle when industry friends from New York, L.A., San Francisco and Europe come to Chicago and are “surprised” by how chic the people are! Yup, as it turns out, there IS incredible style in the middle. Chicago style ranges from glam, fashion-y and trend conscious, all the way to roller girl 50’s inspired hipster chic. Each Chicago neighborhood has somewhat of it’s own “style personality” which is fantastic. It’s great to walk in the city and see a fashion forward risk-taker walking alongside someone in a classic, tailored suit, and trailing slightly behind them is a gal donning perfectly polished vintage. Somehow, here, it all makes sense.
SITM: How did you get started as a wardrobe consultant?
J.W.:After spending 16 years in the fashion industry, I knew it was time for a change. I wanted to remove myself from the “corporate grind”, but also knew that the industry was truly part of my DNA. It was all about applying the last 16 years of my career to the “next step” in my professional life. My goal was to create a business model that didn’t exist in the market- a wardrobe consulting service grounded in expertise combined with a welcoming and accessible approach. So, in January of 2007, I left my role as senior director of women’s merchandising at Banana Republic, moved from San Francisco to Chicago, and a few months later launched juliewatsonstyle. It’s been a wonderful, life-altering experience to say the least!
SITM: What is your favorite part about the job?
J.W.: Our clients. No question, they’re the best part about the job- they’re absolutely wonderful. We work with CEO’s, and stay at home moms. Size 0’s and size 22’s. We’ve dressed people for events at the White House, and date night with their husbands. It’s the diverse range of clients that we service that makes each day so rewarding-and so different! I like to think we work with the “every woman”. The woman that just needs a little help. It’s the women that are just like “us”…you know, the 99.9% of the population that’s not featured on TV, or seen in the pages US Weekly! It’s really so rewarding to give our clients a sense of “fashion empowerment”, and to break down all of the “as seen on t.v.” stereotypes that come along with the image of a stylist. My job is to make women aware of the fact that fashion is for everyone- it comes in all shapes, sizes and style preferences. It’s always a joy to see the “relief” on a client’s face when they know they can trust me, when they know they’re not being judged, when they know that I’m their advocate. That’s when the fun begins!
SITM: What is a common styling tip you find yourself offering to women?
J.W.: I’m constantly telling our clients to push up their sweater sleeves, and roll their shirt and blazer sleeves. I’m a fanatic. Just that little touch conveys an effortless, relaxed attitude. A bit of a “sleeve-joozh” is always in order. I encourage accessorizing as a way to add a bit of panache to an outfit- belts are definitely in order when tucking a blouse in to a skirt or pant, a few bracelets can go a long way, and a scarf can be an outfit’s best friend. I also preach that pattern mixing and layering are keys in creating an effortlessly chic look.
SITM:What trend are you most excited about for fall?
J.W.: OH gosh, do I have to pick just one??! I’m loving the 60’s influence that dominated the fall runways. There’s a lady-like, Laura Petry thing happening with shift dresses, fur trims, peter pan collars, bracelet sleeves, tunics over skinny ankle pants, and smart peacoats. There’s also a mod, “Twiggy” take on the era expressed through graphic color-blocking, bold geometrics, and patent that feels spirited and punchy. I’m also happy to see the continuation of the bold color message that was so prevalent in spring. Unexpected juxtapositions of color feels really fresh for fall. I’m particularly smitten with the mix of the rust/acorn color family with pinks ranging from blush nudes to bright lipstick pink. It’s oddly perfect. For shoes, it’s all about the heeled loafer for me. In love.
SITM: What items would you recommend splurging on and what should women try and save on?
J.W.: Splurge on a great pair shoes, a beautifully constructed handbag, an iconic “statement” accessory (be it a bracelet, a necklace or a belt) and a perfectly fitting pair of pants. Save on basic layering pieces- tees, cardigans and underpinnings. Anchoring a wardrobe with these well crafted, high quality investment pieces will automatically make the items you “save” on look more elevated. Great style isn’t about how much you spend on each item, rather, it’s about knowing what pieces to invest in to craft the perfect balance of high and low.
And we’re very excited to be headed to Julie’s studio tomorrow (8/24) for a book party/shop crawl with Jessica Quirk! Live in the Chicago area? It’s not too late to RSVP — click here for all the deets. We hope to see you there!*