Four Cities, Four Holiday Party Styles
By now, we know that great style happens all over the country—even if the job description of the woman in question doesn't start and end with "fashion blogger." So we're particularly stoked to chat with four of the America's finest women who are totally crushing it in the career department—and who happen to embody exceptional style while doing so. Because we're currently knee-deep in the holiday season, the topic of conversation is holiday style—which happens to be just as diverse as the women themselves. Read on to learn about the fun of two Christmases, how a plant nursery boss manages to bring the outdoors in and much, much more.
Mollie Levy-Roseroot, Chicago, IL
Karen Millen Pencil Dress with Lace Detail, $334.21, asos.com. ASOS Wiggle Dress With Off Shoulder, $87.95, asos.com. Ted Baker Embellished Flapper Dress, $350, asos.com. Mer/Blood Orange Shoes, $368, diepparestrepo.com. Saddle Leather Tote, $310, post27store.com. Dopio Watch, $95, tokyobayinc.com.
Mixed-media artist Mollie Levy-Roseroot just plunged into the world of freelance and is feeling the pressure. After three years of working at a local non-profit, the art and textile obsessive decided to focus full time on her mixed media pieces. “I went to school for painting, and am grateful for that experience but something they don't teach you is how to run your own business,” says the 27-year-old born-and-bred Chicagoan. We have a feeling she'll do just fine, though. Bursting with kinetic energy, her colorful collages feature geometric-cut paint chips that appear to jump and circle around their canvas, making it pretty difficult NOT to want to buy one.
But even before going rogue, Mollie considered herself a “penny-pincher” in the fashion department. However, that doesn't mean she's not having fun with clothes, even drawing inspiration from equally chic family members. “My grandmother was a fashion icon--both beautiful and timeless,” she says. “We always called her a Jewish Audrey Hepburn.” Mollie’s mom picked up those best practices and passed them along to the artist. “Because I have had these great fashionable influences in my life I have always tried to emulate their taste, yet with my own unique touch—and of course a few fashion faux pas,” she winks.
The Levy-Roseroots’ December holiday is Hanukkah, but it isn’t exactly celebrated with fervor. “I remember one year receiving all my gifts in a garbage bag,” she says. The clan mostly goes all-out for Thanksgiving: Mom cooks a massive meal, Dad perfects the night’s tunage (jazz), and the extended family gathers to feast among candlelight. Mollie has a similarly comforting approach to New Year’s: “Regardless of how the evening begins, it always ends with a grilled cheese.” Sounds like a great night to us.
Morgan Hungerford West, Washington, D.C.
Markus Lupfer Hazy Leather And Mohair Dress, $378.19, asos.com. Love Velvet Maxi Dress with Thigh Split, $59.81, asos.com. ASOS Midi Dress In Swan Print, $73.88, asos.com. Set In Stones Nail Polish, $8, essie.com. Jagger Ankle Boot, $395, freepeople.com. Night Breed Eyeshadow, $24, Sephora.com. Green Tempest Ring, $220, pixiemarket.com.
If being a “lifestyle manager” seems like a dream, Morgan Hungerford West is definitely living it. The 31-year-old D.C.-area native transitioned successfully from early street-style blogger to the aforementioned title—it’s on her business card!—in just a handful of years, with plenty of career-making landmarks along the way. Morgan runs Panda Head—a lifestyle blog and virtual magazine. As if that wasn’t enough, she also freelances as an event décor guru, crafting large-scale installations that instantly transform any already awesome space into a magical dreamland.
Morgan seems to have decorating skills in her blood—her mother would use her own talents to transform the family home during the holidays, and Morgan got to help out. “Spending eight hours on a ladder, staple-gunning paper snowflakes to the living [room] ceiling was kind of my norm…” she says. She applied those skills to a visual merchandising job, then pivoted to freelance, with a portfolio that includes a “lace teepee garden” and a huge “gypset-style tent.” Think that kind of creativity translates to Morgan’s own holiday décor style? You bet. “Our apartment is pretty small, and last year we inaugurated the Christmas Branch: a big, beautiful, yarn-wrapped branch that we suspended from the ceiling and draped in colored lights,” she says.
The best part of Morgan’s "agnostic" Christmas celebrations? Seeing friends and family. “…The biggest tradition I adhere to is spending as much time with them as I can (bonus if food and drink is involved)!” While her everyday look usually involves black jeans, boots, and a vintage tee, her holiday style is a chance to get playful. For clothes, it’s “ladylike with an element of grunge,” she says. “When it comes to hair I'm a solid believer that bigger does, in fact, equal better.”
Tatiana Massey, Houston, TX
ASOS Prom Dress In Jewel Print, $167, asos.com. ASOS Skater Dress with Embellished Collar, $131.93, asos.com. Whistles Jessamine Lace Detail Dress, $307.83, asos.com. The Knot hand-painted waxed leather clutch, $1,300, netaporter.com. Crystal cameo necklace, $1,020, netaporter.com. Crystal-embellished gold-plated necklace, $1,120, netaporter.com. Zena suede and leather ankle boots, $1,595, netaporter.com. Draped silk-blend crepe dress, $1,590, netaporter.com. Mathilda tuxedo jacket, $1,698, matchesfashion.com.
Houston’s Laboratoria seems an unlikely setup for the Texas city. The high-end shop stocks just-under-the-radar labels from across the world (including Lover and by Malene Birger), but owner Tatiana Massey realized that the seemingly casual and conservative city was definitely ready for something new. “I see my store as a treasure chest, where customers can find clothes and accessories from most of the fashion epicenters around the world while enjoying a cup of tea and looking at art,” says Tatiana. A former model and native of Russia, the 37-year-old opened Laboratoria in August of 2012, after a decade of helping her friend make buying decisions for Moscow shop Rehab.
Tatiana’s also logged time in the art world, assisting author Catherine Anspon with her tome Texas Artists Today. “I was pleasantly surprised with the creative side of the city,” says Tatiana, who loves going to The Menil Collection, which she says boasts the world’s largest collection of Surrealist works. Her bio is kind of like her style, which Tatiana describes as “eclectic.” “Mainly, I love simplicity with a touch of [the] unexpected and fun element,” she says. “I take it seriously enough not to take it too seriously.”
This balanced approach serves Tatiana well during the holidays—which should be especially hectic for her, as she celebrates two Christmases. The January 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration not only ensures that her four-year-old, Daria, gets double the presents, but that there’s a chance to partake in tradition. Tatiana describes a way to tell fortunes by dripping candle wax into cold water—the resulting figurines are supposed to provide serious insight. “A lot of it is up to your imagination of course!”
Her #1 New Years tradition? “Exactly at midnight I write down my wish on a tiny piece of paper, burn it and drink it with my champagne,” she says. “I have been doing it for years and I must say it really works!” Considering her accomplishments, it may be wise to follow her lead with this one.
Flora Grubb, San Francisco, CA
Silent Damir Domar Knot Front Jersey Maxi Dress, $260.33, asos.com. Rachel Comey Drift Dress in Isle Plaid, $856.63, asos.com. Peter Jensen Corduroy Dress, $313.10, asos.com. Stripe Down Cot, $98, domesticconstruction.com. Saddle Leather Cot, garzamarfa.com. The Flora Grubb Gardens Ornament, $40, floragrubb.com. Reindeer Painting, $60, 20x200.com.
Spring 2013 welcomes the 10th anniversary of Flora Grubb Gardens—the utterly gorgeous, outside-in nursery-cum-coffee-shop run by, you guessed it, Flora Grubb. The 38-year-old—and yes, that is her real (and totally awesome) name—moved to San Francisco about 15 years ago and never looked back; her outlook reflects the California-cool mindset. “I hope to inspire everyone who comes to our shop to enjoy a closer relationship with the natural world,” she says. Flora notes that San Francisco has one of the best climates in the world for gardening—and she thinks the fashion scene isn’t half bad either. “I love the bohemian roots of SF fashion,” she says. “I love when fashion is about beauty and creativity and joy.”
Her laid-back, earthy attitude extends to how she dresses herself, as you’d expect from someone so connected to nature. “When I am ‘off-duty’ I try not to be covered in mud,” she says. “When I am ‘on duty’ I don’t try very hard not to be covered in mud.” This year for Christmas and New Year's, Flora is headed to destinations decidedly hotter and even more chill: Malibu and Palm Springs.
“For Palm Springs, my holiday style is looking like a lot of linen and flip flops,” she says of her New Year's wardrobe. That said, she does tend to go all-out for Christmas. “I love making things, and we always have a craft night and make tree ornaments with our friends.” And, as you’d expect from a nursery owner—and former landscape designer—she thinks that natural elements are a crucial part of holiday decorating. “The holidays are great time to celebrate our connection to the outside world by bringing the outdoors in,” she says. “I love Christmas trees, and garlands, and wreaths—any excuse to drag a tree inside.”