Joanna Pritchard is a regular mom, but she’s determined not to dress like one. The friendly, 44- year- old creator of Poppy’s Style admits she has no interest in “adopting a uniform and conforming.” Instead, she has carved out her own unique style, preferring to dress casual, urban and a little bit edgy.
Joanna’s readers love to visit her popular Atlanta-based blog (named after her daughter Poppy) for her inspiring outfit ideas and cool clothing suggestions.
I recently had the chance to chat with Joanna about her life and her “obsession” with fashion. Here is my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: Joanna, You’re originally from England. How did you end up in Atlanta?
Joanna: My husband and I have always loved travel and adventure, so when he got the opportunity to work here back in 2000, we came thinking we can always go back if it doesn’t work out! Fifteen years later we are US citizens with two children as Southern as they come.
Deb: What differences have you noticed between the way English and American women like to dress?
Joanna: Of course this varies by location within the US, but I find Southern women to be far more casual – lots of athletic wear during the day! I think that is driven (pun intended) by the car culture here – you can go all day without seeing anyone you know, just driving from A to B. In the UK I always walked a lot, used public transport, etc. so I felt we had more of a ‘daily catwalk’ to dress up for and be seen. Also, here in the South you can go out for dinner in just jeans and a t-shirt – no one seems to expect you to dress up.
I am missing out in the UK now, where everyone is in sequins and party wear for the Holiday season and parties. We definitely spend more time here at the hair salon, nail salon and spray tanning than in the UK – probably as it is more commonplace and relatively cheaper. It’s funny to me that we can have perfect manicures and beautiful hair but then walk around in Lululemon all day!
Deb: Tell us about your style? How would you describe it?
Joanna: It has definitely evolved significantly over the years. I was never interested in fashion until I had my children. I worked in corporate marketing, so I was always in an Ann Taylor suit! I like to stand out from the crowd here in Atlanta, and my style tends towards urban and a little edgier than most here. I love brands like AllSaints and Rag & Bone, for example, and I don’t own a single pair of chinos or a polo shirt!
I also had several piercings done over the past couple of years, so I have softened my hair slightly by growing it. I have several ear piercings, nostril and septum piercings but no tattoos! I aim for an urban style – more NYC downtown than uptown!
Deb: You seem very happy and comfortable with your style at the moment. Has it always been this way? Has your look changed much since you began blogging?
Joanna: Yes a lot. It’s taken me a long time to find out where I am comfortable, and to gain the confidence to wear what I want! When I started blogging, I wore a lot of Boden and Tory Burch – fitting the Atlanta preppy look! Now I wear what I want. I still love to look feminine, and I love a bit of a glamour too. I spend much more time on makeup, and I love a good red or fuchsia lip! My weight fluctuates a lot these days, and I have learned to accept that. I workout regularly so I feel fit and strong which gives me confidence with my appearance. I like to stand out from the crowd these days, and I am certainly the only mom in the carpool with a septum piercing!
Deb: What are your favorite trends- things you currently enjoy wearing? Trends you wouldn’t go near.
Joanna: I don’t think of them as trends as I wear them all the time – but I love fringe and tassels on anything! I love wearing ankle boots and over the knee boots – I definitely prefer dressing for the colder months – which is unfortunate as we have so little winter here! I don’t believe in rules as you get older, but I am more aware of how much skin and flesh I show – I doubt I’ll be baring my midriff anytime soon.
I love to wear short skirts and dresses, and I think it is more acceptable for us to do so here in Atlanta, where our summers are 90 degrees! I will always wear a bikini each summer regardless of my age! Why to cover up – especially when I have a navel piercing to flaunt:) I love sneakers with everything – they are cool and super comfortable for running around with the kids. I can’t think of a trend that I wouldn’t go near as long as I felt comfortable! I wear jumpsuits, sneakers, heels, skirts, dresses, leather, fringe – you name it – I think I have it in my closet!
Deb: You have an inverted triangle body shape. What challenges does this pose and how do you work around it?
Joanna: My boobs are my biggest challenge! I rarely wear shirts or blouses as I end up fiddling with the buttons. There are several styles of tops that I just can’t wear, and I am much more comfortable in a great jersey top from AllSaints, for example. I think I am like most women, and I am still searching for the perfect bra! I’m very aware of trying to conceal my muffin top too – although this bothers me less and less. I like to wear shapewear – like an all in one body that smooths my lumps and bumps. I love to wear a great blazer or jacket as I think it provides shape, and my favorite is the J.Crew Regent blazers.
Of course, a great pair of boots or shoes draws attention to my legs, and nothing works better than a great pair of OTK boots! I often think I should pay more attention to dressing for my shape, but I can’t resist wearing something if I love it even if it’s not right for me!
Deb: I notice you wear a lot of solid neutral colors. Why, and has this always been the case?
Joanna: I’m definitely a lover of gray and black. I used to wear a LOT of patterns back in my Boden days, but I just feel too preppy in them now. I may be partly influenced by my Husband as he always loves to see me in more urban, neutral palettes. You can’t beat a great square cut, boxy t-shirt in a solid color. My closet is made up of basics in neutrals, but I do have quite a bit of color too like the Regent blazers I mentioned. My color palette right now is navy, black and gray – with a great bright lipstick and dark nails! I get tired of patterned clothes – whereas I feel I can constantly reinvent a solid top. Plus I love accessories and would prefer to carry a leopard print bag rather than wear a leopard print top.
Deb: Tell us about your piercings? Why did you have them done and what do they mean to you?
Joanna: Aahhh, my piercings. Well, I guess I have always had a bit of a rebel in me – though a rebel who does no wrong and never gets caught:) I actually had my second lobe piercing done when I was 14 on a French exchange so my Mum couldn’t say no! I then pierced my own nostril at University using a bag of frozen peas and a needle! I like to be noticed and stand out – maybe it is the Leo in me? Anyway, when I entered the corporate world I obviously had to abandon the nostril piercing.
Now I work with my husband and so I have no rules regarding appearance. I started piercing again two years ago – much around the same time several friends got tattoos. I have never found a tattoo that I want permanently on my skin, and I feel it is more commonplace to have one these days than not have one. At least, with piercings I can let them heal up if I ever suddenly think I’ve made a stupid mistake!
I love the shock value of it – though I also love these days that most people don’t bat an eyelid when they see me. I was VERY nervous about the septum piercing as it is quite an aggressive piercing, but it now feels part of me. My children accept them (though neither wants any piercings!), and my Husband loves them – or, at least, supported me getting them. Maybe it’s my midlife crisis, but whatever I love them, and anything that gives me an opportunity to wear more bling can only be a good thing?
Deb: You say you love jumpsuits- Why, and tips for styling them?
Joanna: Jumpsuits are completely underrated! I have casual splendid ones that I wear in the summer and for travel – they are as comfortable as pajamas! I also have a great Isabel Marant checked one and a Zara harem jumpsuit that are my favorites. I love the ease of them – throw them on with a great bag and great pair of shoes are you are good to go! Keep it simple with some statement shoes.
Deb: You’re a fashion risk taker. What’s the biggest risk ever took? Did it turn out?
Joanna: Probably my wedding dress!! Even though I am an extrovert I really was not a fan of the whole pre-wedding process. I picked my dress very quickly based on what I felt comfortable in – I remember being obsessed about not showing my arms as I thought they were flabby!! We’re such fools sometimes! I ended up loving it – it was a slim empire line dress with lace sleeves, and I felt very Priscilla Presley in it with my big veil!
Deb: Bags and shoes are a favorite. What do you look for when you hunting down the perfect ones? Which are your current favorites?
Joanna: I’m terrible for buying a style in every color! I have odd feet! They are very wide, and I have toes that stick out of strappy shoes, so I have to be careful with sandals. As soon as I find a style I love, that are comfortable and flatter my feet I get as many colors as possible! I have Ragged & Bone Newbury boots in lots of colors – they are a heeled boot – so I find them slimming as they give me height. I also have several Golden Goose sneakers – I always find them in the sale, but they are the best sneakers – cool, urban, fun and can be dressed up or down. I have a glittering pair that I adore. As for bags, I tend to go for higher end brands that I can get on sale or on TheOutnet.com. My favorite right now is my PS1 fringed satchel and my Stella McCartney fur Falabella. I managed to get both hugely discounted. I hate to buy full price!
Deb: You talk about your love for shopping online. What are some of your favorite sites for finding items you love? Any tips for women who want to shop online?
Joanna: TheOutnet.com is one of my go to sites – it is the outlet store for Net-a-porter.com so always has great brands discounted. As I mentioned I hate to buy full price so I always, always price check and compare sites – Lyst.com is an aggregator site that helps with that. Before I hit order I always Google for promo codes and discount codes – you’ll be amazed how many you find even if it is only for free shipping! I will never, never order if I have to pay for shipping – these days all sites should offer free shipping and returns (at least hiding it in the sale price). I always wait for codes for AllSaints.com too, so it’s always worth signing up for emails from your favorite stores.
Deb: If a woman wants to dress a little more edgy, where does she begin. Tips to break out of the mold?
Joanna: Gosh that’s a tough question – I think Pinterest helps hugely with style inspiration and blogs of course. I spend hours trawling through photos and comparing with my closet to see how I can reinvent a look. Emmanuelle Alt is a great example of how to style urban in a more feminine manner – it doesn’t have to be aggressive. Think about fabrics – leather and denim are key. A great pair of ankle boots like the Newburys or Acne Jensens, a pair of pointed flats, along with your choice of sneakers are key basics. A blazer and leather jacket will help you keep the look more polished. Keep your hair and makeup soft and feminine then you won’t feel too harsh – Ruby Rose is a great example for those with short hair.
Deb: Your blog is named after your daughter Poppy. What fashion wisdom and advice are you hoping to impart on your tween daughter?
Joanna: I am a great believe that as parents we need to remember our job is not to mold our children – our job is to prepare them for the world and give them the confidence to be the best person they can be, whoever that is. I want her to challenge the norm and be brave enough not to conform. She already has great taste and I let her choose most of her own closet and how to wear it. She wanted her hair short and had a great short bob, which she has now decided to grow out. My advice is always to be yourself; there are no rules for fashion (we have plenty of other rules to deal with as kids!).
Deb: Anything else you would like to add?
Joanna: Fashion and clothes should always be about fun. It’s not the clothes we have in our closet that matters it’s how we wear them – attitude is everything. Don’t let any magazine, blog or stylist tell you what is or isn’t appropriate for a 40 plus woman to wear. I find I am gaining confidence every year in my 40s, and this is our time to shine and show the world who we are. Loving clothes is not shallow – it is a form of self-expression, and the greatest thing we can wear every day is a smile. xx
Deb: Thanks, Joanna, for sharing your edgy over 40 style with us. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Joanna at her blog Poppy’s Style.