Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop likes “stepping outside of the familiar,” in her life and her style.
Eight years ago, Kristin made the bold decision to move from New York to Scotland, where she now writes the popular 40+ blog, Highland Fashionista. Her mission? To inspire women to “just say no to sweatpants, put down the polar fleece, and back slowly away from the mom jeans.”
You can always count on Kristin for looks that are strong, interesting, and a little playful too! Here’s a closer look at this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: You’re an American living in Scotland. How did you end up there?
Kristin: When I was a graduate student in upstate NY, I got an invite to be a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding taking place in Scotland. She and I had been roommates for years (she’s American too), and she had met a Scotsman years before, during the time that we had lived together. He had been on the periphery for years as her friend, and years later, they finally decided that they loved each other.
I went to the wedding and met the best man. My friend and her husband (and now son) live right down the road from my husband (the best man) and I.
Yes, it sounds like the plot from a Hugh Grant movie, but the reality was a little more fraught with immigration issues, many expenditures, and mountains of paperwork. It makes for a great story, though…we got there in the end.
Deb: Can you tell us about your life before blogging and how you became a fashion blogger?
Kristin: Life before blogging has always been a colorful affair. I got a BA in English Lit in 1993 and worked as a professional saxophonist for years. I worked for a major cruise line (as a musician and as cruise staff) and was in the Air Force Band and Air National Guard Band before deciding to go back to school. I became a nurse, went on to get my Masters degree, and that is my “day job” now, I’m a hospital-based Nurse Practitioner.
I have always been into writing, having been a member of writing groups while living in the states. I do a lot of freelance work as a writer, so blogging was sort of something I decided to do because it was fun. I love fashion, putting together looks, etc., and find that the blog is a great outlet and a great way to interact with other women (and men) and get inspiration. I also got a short play published this year, so that makes me very happy and proud.
Deb: How would you describe your style in three words?
Kristin: Eclectic, bold, sporty
Deb: Do you notice a difference in the way Scottish women dress versus American, and has this influenced your style?
Kristin: I think it is more than just a mode of dress, it’s an approach. The British women I know spend a lot more time on their hair than my American friends. They always have very neatly-groomed locks. I tend to be a bit more… let’s call it “undone” (read: lazy) in my approach.
The same holds for dressing. I think it is particularly evident in the way the women in the UK dress for a wedding. They go all out here, the dress, the fascinator (or hat), the matching shoes, handbag, accessories… I’m kind of in awe of the hat thing. It’s just not a thing where I grew up. I have a giant head, so I have never been a hat person…. I’ve probably just named my next challenge for the blog. Watch this space!
Deb: How do you approach putting together a look? Do you study trends and plan out what you need to buy to create it, or do you just buy on emotion and experiment later?
Kristin: As I get older, I try to buy less and wear more, but there is an emotional element to the way I dress. I take a lot of inspiration for the blog from fashion magazines like Vogue. I get the US edition mailed to me in paper format. It’s like my little splurge. I love to hold it in my hands, smell the paper, rip things out. As much as I love technology, I’ll always love a paper fashion magazine.
I also tend to shop a lot of secondhand. I find mainstream retail has skimped on quality with the surge of fast fashion, and even shopping high-end brands is no guarantee that you will find great pieces. I love to inspect a garment, look at the fabric, see if there’s a lining, etc.
Deb: Your blog is entertaining, and you seem to have a good sense of humor. How does this parlay into the way you like to dress?
Kristin: Absolutely. In the animal kingdom, the ability play is said to be a sign of intelligence. The human-animal is no different. Color, print, sequins….playtime!
Deb: What is your favorite item you bought in the last year, and why?
Kristin: A leopard cocoon coat from Thakoon Addition (on sale but still a bit of a splurge). I love the cut, and it makes me feel really glamorous, which I believe is the whole point of leopard print.
Deb: Your biggest fashion mistake purchase in the last year, and why?
Kristin: Three pairs of jeans in a size which I thought was my size but after yanking my waistband up consistently for the last year, I now realize that I’ve been buying clothes based on a number and not how they fit – a mistake a lot of women make, and why you still should try everything on, even when you think you know the brand. Mainstream retailer size creep is very real.
Deb: How do you weigh in on the age-appropriate issue? Do you think there is ever an age when a woman should refrain from wearing certain types of clothes like short skirts, etc.?
Kristin: There is always a lot of chatter around the age-appropriate issue, from articles to adages about the length of one’s hemline, the size of one’s pearls, and so on. What you wear is an individual thing, and you should base your choices on what looks and feels right for you. I have yet to see a men’s magazine do an “age issue” – nobody wastes time or print talking about age appropriateness for men in the scope that they do for women, so I am all for wholly ignoring the issue. Sure, there are things that I looked better in when I was 17, but your tastes change as you gain age and experience. That’s how it works. Tina Turner certainly didn’t get the memo about the hemlines for older women and Thank Goodness for that.
Deb: At a time when many women feel the need to color their hair, you’ve let yours gray naturally. It’s become part of your signature style. Was this a hard decision to make at 43.
Did it change your self-image in any way? Did it affect the way you dress, such as the colors you wear now?
Kristin: My decision was one that was utterly (okay maybe not wholly…) based in the desire to be unique. I saw a photo of the model Kristen McMenamy in the Age Issue of “Vogue” (again with the age issue) in 2011. McMenamy is a few years older than I am, and she has this long, glorious sterling silver hair. I was blown away by the images, and thought that going natural would be a great way to assert my unique voice and (as a nice side effect) eventually ease into getting older in a way that wouldn’t seem so jarring later on.
Deb: Can you offer any advice for other women wanting to go gray?
Kristin: You have to be ready. You will know when you are prepared because you will be strong enough to ignore your critics. These critics generally stop being so critical after the fourth month or so when they see how freeing and unique you look. What’s funny now is that I get a lot of compliments on it, and more than half of them are men.
I have always thought that gray hair in and of itself is not aging; you have to take the whole self into context. If you believe a bottle of hair dye is the thing keeping you from looking old and tired but are running around in a dirndl skirt, orthopedic shoes, and a cardigan with tissues stuffed up the sleeves… It’s a styling issue. And a fitness issue as well. Take the energy you spend on covering the gray and put it into the yoga mat, the tennis court, or whatever your thing is.
Deb: What would you tell a woman who is having a hard time figuring out her style?
Kristin: Try on everything that takes your fancy, even if you think you shouldn’t. Take photos. You will surprise yourself. You will.
Deb: Thanks Kristin for sharing your fabulous style with my readers! Ladies, Be sure to drop by Kristin’s blog, Highland Fashionista, to see more of her unique looks!