She may not have a huge closet full of clothes, but she’s sure big on style. Meet Carelia Moran, the creative force behind the popular blog, My Small Wardrobe.
Originally from Honduras but now living in North Carolina, Carelia has attracted a large following by showcasing her vibrant outfits and high-energy style. This 44-year-old fashionista is a master at mixing colors and patterns in the most interesting ways and always looks pulled together, no matter what she wears.
I got a chance to chat with Carelia about her unique style and her passion for fashion. Here’s my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: You consider your style an extension of your personality. So tell us, what your clothes are saying about you?
Carelia: My style represents my spontaneous and flexible persona. I can easily get bored with things. Therefore, I’m always searching for small changes that can spice up routines.
Deb: You showcase a range of looks from glam to classic to boho. How would you describe your overall style?
Carelia: Emotional. I wear what feels right for me at the moment. For example, there are days that I feel very confident about my body. Therefore, I choose a look to broadcast that confidence. But also, there are sometimes when I feel more self-conscious about my overall look, so I choose to wear something according to those feelings, therefore, more conservative. Either way, if I respect my feelings at the moment that I’m choosing what to wear, I almost always end up feeling happy with myself and my outfit. I can firmly say, I never know what I’m going to wear the next day because I don’t know what my mood is going to be.
Deb: How does being from Honduras influence the way you like to dress?
Carelia: I grew up in a Latin American country where most women tend to dress a bit provocatively; this is just part of the culture. When I moved to the United States in the early 90s, I noticed a more casual and conservative style everywhere, so I immediately understood that dressing provocatively was being perceived in the wrong way.
I’ve never compromised with my personal style. I always stayed true to myself, even when I knew that I was wearing something that wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, as I become older, I realized that the choices that made me feel confident years ago were no longer appealing to me. Nowadays, I don’t feel that showcasing cleavage every day is necessary to feel myself.
The love for color and patterns are things I’ve learned in Honduras, and I believe they will always is a part of my style. I also inherited from my culture the love for tribal and handmade accessories that give a bohemian touch to my looks.
Deb: Although you aren’t a full-time blogger, you dedicate a lot of time to posting and sharing your outfits. What do you hope your readers take away from your blog?
Carelia: As you probably can tell by now, in my blog, I don’t write much about my looks, style advice, or anything related to that particular post, and it’s because I’m more of a visual person. I can get more inspiration for a look by just seeing a photo than by reading 10,000 words. So, I want the same concept with my blog. I want my readers to interpret my looks the way they feel, not the way I want them to.
Every single outfit in my blog is my personal work of art, and if I hang a picture of every look in a gallery, everyone will have a different interpretation, therefore, everyone will feel inspired in different ways. Regardless of age, I want my readers to interpret my blog and look in their own way, and if they feel inspired, I feel very happy and if they don’t, it’s ok too.
Deb: You’re a master of juxtaposition – mixing patterns and colors to get really creative looks. Many readers would love to dress like this but don’t have a clue where to begin. Can you give us some guidelines?
Carelia: It makes me happy you think that way, but I don’t know if I will call myself a master of juxtaposition, however, I do enjoy these types of combos.
The juxtaposition works for me when there is a fusion between two pieces of a different style, fabric, or pattern. For example, the other day I decided to wear a bohemian tunic dress with a striped pattern. Stripes are very common in sporty pieces, so I knew right away this was a perfect boho piece to pair with a sporty piece; like a varsity jacket or even a pair of sneakers. You can easily pair a very masculine jacket with a very girly skirt. However, it has to be some fusion between both pieces to work.
When I say fusion, I mean the look should have prints, colors, or styles that look proportionally flattering when together. I can play with juxtaposition not only with pieces of a different style but also with different fabrics as well. If I have a structured conservative coat or jacket, I will not pair it with another structured piece regardless of the style if I want to create a fun juxtaposition. Instead, I will pair it with a flowy and easy fabric piece to accentuate each piece but also to create a perfect fusion between both. To me, any mixing in fashion needs to have a decent balance to make sense.
Deb: Color is a key part of your look. Are you picky about the colors you wear?
Carelia: I used to be picky about colors, mainly with shades of grey and greens, and I guess because they aren’t the best colors against my olive skin tone. Nowadays, I’ve embraced pretty much every color. I realized that life is too short to not try most things that life has to offer. Now, I’m even obsessed with army green. I found out that it can be a very fun hue mainly when paired with black and other neutrals.
Deb: You have a passion for pumps. Tell us about that.
Carelia: Yes!! I do love pumps, but I also have a hard time finding the right fit for me. I have narrow heels. Therefore, a lot of pumps will slide off from the back or even show a gap between my heel and the back of the shoe. This is the reason I’m extremely picky about buying pumps. I have found a few brands that work for me, and I stick with them when buying pumps because they’ll rarely change the shape of their classic styles.
I love pumps because besides being feminine they are also easy to dress up and dress down, therefore, versatile. At this moment, my favorite pair is a nude-colored round toe pump and a black and white leopard pump.
The best type of pumps for me is the ones that fit right on my feet. I’ve learned the hard way, that no matter how pretty or stylish a pump is, if it doesn’t fit right, I will end up selling it or trading it for something else. So, save your time and money and try before you buy. Most of the leather pumps stretch out a little bit after use, so consider buying pumps that fit a little snug, otherwise, they’ll be sliding off your heels after a few wears. I personally love clean line pumps with a 4 inches heel, but I don’t shy away from colors or patterns. I love solid-colored pumps, but I also enjoy a pump with a tasteful and sophisticated print.
Deb: Vintage is another passion. Where does that come from?
Carelia: Where I’m from, buying pre-loved items is a very common thing to do, so I continue to carry that tradition with me. Vintage items are so important in my wardrobe because they add that special and unique touch to my look that new items will never achieve.
Deb: Your style is fresh and ever-changing. Have you ever been stuck in a style rut?
Carelia: When I was pregnant with of each of my sons, I was really stuck with the same style. But, I did not care much because I was more concerned about my health since both of my pregnancies were delicate situations. I remember wearing my ex-husband’s shirts over comfortable sweatpants or leggings…and when I wanted to feel dressy, I wore huge handmade cotton kaftans.
Deb: You’ve worn flared jeans, gingham, and military chic (to name a few trends) on your blog recently. What is your current favorite spring trend and why?
Carelia: As you can tell, I love to wear classics that now have become a trend with vintage pieces, but right now, my favorite trend is the bohemian 70s. I have a wardrobe with several pieces from that era, so it’s easy for me to enjoy this trend without spending extra cash.
Deb: Hats, Are they just for the blog, or do you really wear a lot of hats?
Carelia: I LOVE HATS!!!!!! and they aren’t just for the blog, as a matter of fact, everything I wear on the blog I wear in real life. We actually take pictures of my outfits before or after a busy day. However, I prefer to take them before, so my clothes aren’t wrinkled and my hair and makeup are fresh.
I’ve loved hats since I was a little girl, and yes, a lot of people comment about my hats at work or in the street, but they’ve always been positive comments. I have a type of skin that can get melasma spots if I’m not careful, so besides wearing sunscreen every day, I consider hats as a form of sun protection.
Deb: Tips for women trying to get the most out of a small wardrobe?
Carelia: My tip is very simple: Add versatile/basic and fun pieces to your wardrobe. With fun pieces (patterned blazer, bag or pants, scarfs, colored shoes…etc) you can create different looks with your basic and versatile items.
Deb: Do you have any fashion pet peeves?
Carelia: Yes!! Poorly made shoes that come with an expensive price tag.
Deb: Finish this sentence. I feel most fabulous when …
Carelia: I feel most fabulous when I’m true to myself.
Deb: Finish this sentence. When I’m 80, I’ll be wearing…
Carelia: I’ll be wearing a one-piece swimming suit, while laying down on a Bay Island on a Honduran beach, smoking a cigar, drinking a Margarita, and watching the young crowd having fun.
Deb: You’re funny! That sounds great. Thank you so much Carelia for your fabulous style insights. Ladies, be sure to visit Carelia’s inspiring blog and say hello. Just click on My Small Wardrobe.