Style Crush: Singer-Songwriter Holly Williams

Here in our NYC offices, we're still bundling up in peacoats and puffer jackets on our way to work. Maybe that's why we're crushing on so many southern gals lately?

Our latest style crush is Nashville native signer/songwriter Holly Williams, who CMT recently named one of the "Next Women of Country." This comes as no surpise—music is in Williams' blood. Her grandfather is Hank Williams Sr., her father Hank Williams Jr., and her half brother is Hank Williams III. But while Williams' music does have a bit of southern twang, her voice is smoother and more mellow than her traditionally-minded contemporaries like Carrie Underwood. Her new album The Highway, which was self-financed and independently released, came out last month and is her third studio album. Check out Williams' upcoming tour dates to hear her play live alongside artists like Jewel and Little Big Town.

While William' passion is songwriting, her secondary love is style.  Back in 2007, she opened her Nashville boutique, H. Audrey, to fill the city's fashion void. "In Nashville we have no Barney's, no Neiman's, no Saks, no Bergdorf's, no Bendel's," she says. "We have some great little boutiques but I felt like there was still so much lacking here. That's when I decided to open my own boutique to fill the missing pieces," she says.

"As women, we are in the best fashion decade that there has ever been in my opinion," says Williams. "There are no rules and, if there are, they are meant to be broken."

Williams prefers what she calls "casual chic" and feels the most comfortable in good pair of jeans, a soft tee, and a simple black heel or riding boots. Some of her go-to pieces include a floor-length Alexander McQueen cashmere cardigan and a white, shoulder-padded t-shirt by Vince. She keeps her beauty routine pretty simple too, swearing by a restful eight hours of sleep every night and drinking plenty of water (and a little "Armani foundation to hide everything").

Keep reading to learn more about Williams' thoughts on fashion, her shopping recommendations, and how she packs for the road.

Lucky: When did you first realize you inherited your family's talent for music?
Holly Williams: At a very young age I was writing songs in what I called "Holly's song folder." The writing was a first to me. I loved telling stories, writing melodies, and lyrics and I didn't start singing until much later. I was nearly 17! The first day I picked up a guitar in my later teen years, I immediately finished a song and ran downstairs to tell my mom "I'm going to do this!" They were hesitant at first, but once they saw me driving my Toyota across the country playing for five people a night sometimes, they knew I was in it for the real reason of loving the singing/songwriting path.

Your new album, The Highway, was inspired by your love of the road. What are some of the things you love about touring?
I personally love being a storyteller. I love the intimate shows in theaters where you feel like you are so close to the audience. I go out every single night to sign CDs and meet people, and there's nothing like hearing why your song affected them and why they relate. Besides the audience connection—I am such a people person—I am a huge foodie, so I love discovering local restaurants with a following, and I get to find new designers on the road for my store H. Audrey!

Have you always been interested in fashion, or did you start becoming more interested when you were touring throughout the U.S. and Europe?
I always loved it, but much more so when I was able to get on the road, see what was out there. I was so tall, it was impossible to shop in high school and find the right fit, so I spent years (literally) just trying to find a pair of jeans long enough! The Topshop tall section was my obsession. Now, every item is being made for every body type which is nice. J Brand alone has over 100 different fits! It's the same reason that I love writing, cooking, dressing—it's all a creative outlet.

Williams at her Nashville boutique.

Do you pick what you wear in your music videos and when you're performing? How does your music influence your personal style choices?
Yes, I pick everything for every event. I have no problem busting out my three-inch heels and a fabulous stripe mini dress for a night out, but obviously that doesn't match the music. My music is simple storytelling at its roots and I try to layer it up with the right instrument, backup vocals, etcetera. Same philosophy in dressing. I love a simple black cashmere sweater, but what will make it different? I always want something a little unexpected, musically and in dressing.

Besides H. Audrey, of course, where are some of your favorite places to shop in-store and online?
Oh Lord! Online, J.Crew, Net-a-porter, Imogene & Willie, La Garçonne, The Outnet, Gilt, Ebay (for serious Stella Mccartney discounts!). In store, Payless (they have my size 12 shoes! I have tranny feet!), Hermes to drool and lust (they make my size shoes), Barneys Co-op, Scoop in NYC, Et Vous in Paris, Haven in Nashville, UAL in New Orleans, Wasteland in LA for vintage rock n' roll t-shirts, Forty Five Ten in Dallas. I could go on and on. On this album, I'm barely shopping at all, as I'm touring non-stop and really focused on the music. But in my earlier years, I had less brain cells and got into a bit too much credit card debt. Oops! You have to be careful on tour.

Who are some of your personal favorite designers and why?
Helmut Lang pieces are so simple and effortless (a black long-sleeve tee with a simple leather stripe going down the side). Their layering pieces are perfect and everything has an edge to it. I'm obsessed! Rag & Bone has blown my mind with their recent denim explosion. They truly are the perfect washes and never get in the way of the rest of your outfit. Mother has an incredible fit. I love their runaway flare jean. Inhabit and Duffy are my favorite cashmere lines and I've carried french label IRO at H. Audrey for almost six years. Now they're exploding! Inspired by the fabulous Paris street-chic, they make the essential disheveled tank tops and the perfect sequin jackets for a pop.

How many suitcases do you pack for a tour? What do you take along to make you feel at home?
Not many! After years of traveling without assistants to pack up things for me, you have to pack light! You're carrying everything so weight is important. I always have my journal, laptop stuffed with music to listen to, and a couple of books. I've got doggie videos on my laptop to make me smile and notepads full of lyric ideas that I'm always sorting through. I could survive a week with my Rick Owens jacket, jeans, Frye boots, white Iro t-shirt and cotton undies from Victoria's Secret. I'm pretty low maintenance out there. You have to be when you're unpacking everyday! My laptop is everything so I can skype with friends and family and my hubby if he's not with me.

Photo Credits: Kristin Barlowe and David McClister

Read on to shop Williams' favorite fashion and beauty essentials.

Williams' Style Musts

"Where would millions of women be without the classic Newbury Boot from Rag & Bone?"

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