Want to take more fashion risks, but feel nervous about doing so? Blogger Cherie James says all you need is a Style Nudge.
The 54-year-old fashionista from New Jersey is also a stylist who started her blog to encourage women to try new ideas and learn to play with their clothes. Cherie’s outfit posts are creative, upbeat and fun. it’s no wonder she’s attracted such a loyal following in only two short years.
I had a chance to talk to Cherie about her blog and her unique style. Enjoy my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: How would you describe your style?
Cherie: I never know how to answer this question. I guess it would be effortless chic with a twist.
Deb: Tell us about your style journey. Where did your love of fashion come from? Who inspired you growing up and what did you learn from them?
Cherie: I am not sure where my love of fashion came from. I watched my mother enjoy fashion and she definitely had a flair. And, from the time that I can remember, I loved to style everything around me and played dress up as much as I could.
It is strange to say, but I think my Barbie dolls had the biggest influence on me. I played for hours and hours dressing them in both store-bought and homemade outfits, adding my own little touches with things that I found around the house. I think this is where I first learned how to be resourceful with fashion. I was allowed to be as creative as I wanted to be when I was little and it taught me to experiment and play with whatever I had. It was fun for me, and it still is today. I think from those early days I have seen the world through style-colored glasses.
Deb: Have you always been such a risk taker or did you grow into it? Do you have an example of big style risk you took that paid off?
Cherie: I have always been a style risk taker. I enjoy pushing the envelope by trying new and different ideas. I have never been afraid to wear my style creations, I’m not sure why.
I can’t think of a big style risk that paid off, but I can think of smaller ones. I love styling things that aren’t meant to be worn. For example, when I was in my early 20’s I took an old horse saddle strap that I found and wore it as a belt. A few years ago, I found an old window treatment panel at a local flea market. It was made out of beautiful lace with a ruffle trim. Instead of using it as a window treatment, I wear it as a light evening wrap.
Deb: What do you think holds so many women back from taking style risks? Your best suggestion for breaking free from that?
Cherie: Confidence. I have always had confidence around my style because I have loved everything to do with fashion and style since I can remember. It is just something that is second nature to me. I know what looks flattering on me.
It’s important to take the time to learn what styles and colors look best on you, such as what are your best necklines, what length skirt is most flattering, what type of jean cut is best, etc. Once you know what is flattering on YOU, then taking style risks isn’t as scary. We all have things that we like and things that we dislike about our bodies, so learning what you should emphasize and what you should minimize is key to gaining style confidence. Knowing what looks flattering on you can literally change your life. You will gain confidence knowing that you look your best.
I would highly recommend consulting a stylist or someone who you trust and who’s style you admire so that you can hone your personal style.
Deb: You say style is in the mix. What do you mean, and how does one go about creating a mix when she doesn’t even know where to begin?
Cherie: What I mean by the “mix” is to take what you have and mix your pieces together, so they are unique to your style. Wearing the same designer clothing and accessories head to toe isn’t stylish. How much you spend has nothing to do with great style. Combining textures, colors, patterns, high with low, new with old and playing with proportion are secrets to great style. Looking stylish has everything to do with how you mix what you have.
Where to begin? Again, start with finding out what clothing suits YOU. Besides hiring a stylist, or asking your trusted friends and family what they think you look best in, take note of when people compliment you on something that you wear. Usually people won’t go out of their way to give a compliment unless they really do think you look great. Once you have established what you look best in and what clothing you feel most like yourself in, then you can start to mix in new items and mix what you have in different ways.
Deb: Tell us about some of your favorite outfits from the blog and why they are so special to you?
Cherie: My favorite outfits on the blog are when I “mix” my vintage pieces, like one of my handbags or muffs, with my current things. I also love the outfits where I mix a lot of patterns and prints, of course, anything with animal print (my weakness). These outfits are special to me because I created them, I guess the best way I can explain it is to say that when I put an outfit together, it’s like painting a picture or like putting a puzzle together.
Deb: Vintage is a big part of your look – What is it about vintage that calls to you? How does one do vintage over 40, 50 without looking old?
Cherie: I love vintage pieces. And, I enjoy the hunt to find them, from garage sales to flea markets. Vintage pieces are truly unique, you rarely find two items that are the same, so you are pretty much guaranteed that no one else will be wearing the same thing. Adding a piece of vintage to an outfit adds such interest. I love that there is a story behind every piece, too. I have often found old lipsticks and makeup, handkerchiefs and handwritten notes in some of my vintage finds.
The only way to wear vintage, in my opinion, is to never wear it head to toe. It is rare that I wear two vintage pieces together. You can look dowdy quickly if you don’t mix the vintage with current looks regardless of your age.
Deb: You have a knack for combining colors, prints, and textures. Can you give us some tips on this? Also favorite colors, prints of yours?
Cherie: Combining patterns, colors and textures can be a tricky thing to explain because the process is a lot of trial and error. You have to be willing to make a mistake, and you will, but who cares. I used to be more serious about getting dressed, but not anymore. Have fun with your clothes. I love to push the envelope on mixing patterns and prints- wearing florals with stripes, stripes with more stripes, plaids with florals, etc.
Here are some guidelines to start with if you want to experiment with mixing…
1. Keep your fabrics in the same color family so they blend.
2. Choose one print to dominate and one as an accent (small stripe with leopard)
3. Mix prints of different scales (big stripes with small stripes)
4. Pair two types of the same print (floral on floral)
5. Pair the same print in boldly contrasting colors ( a brown leopard with a red leopard print)
Start with something basic, like a nautical navy and white striped shirt. This classic shirt can be worn with just about anything – a patterned skirt or trousers, a tweed blazer, or a leopard coat.
Some of my favorite items, that I have to stop myself from buying, are striped shirts, jeans, and anything animal print. I will wear animal print with just about anything. As Jenna Lyons says, “Leopard is a neutral”. And, I say, Stripes are too!
Deb: You say you are not big on trends. Why? How can one stay modern looking, as you do, without incorporating trends?
Cherie: I think there is too much emphasis on the latest trends. Women often make the mistake of jumping on the latest trend, but those trends may not be flattering on them. Only incorporate a trend if it is complimentary to you and your personal style. Once you know what works for you, you should stick to those styles, and be particular about what trend you may want to add to your current wardrobe.
I don’t believe you need to incorporate the trends to stay modern. I think if you wear classic pieces you are always modern. Look at Carolina Herrara. She doesn’t wear trendy items, she is known for her beautiful white shirts and classic trousers, and she always looks modern. If you want to incorporate a trend, rely on the items you know look good on you and that you feel most comfortable in and add a couple of items that may be trending that particular season. It freshens things up.
Deb: You appear to love shoes. How many pairs do you own, and how do you decide which ones to buy?
Cherie: I do love shoes. I don’t know how many pairs of shoes I own (a lot). I rarely get rid of any of my shoes; I still have shoes from when I was in high school! The way that I decide for myself what shoes to buy is I ask, “Do I LOVE them?
Most of my shoes are not expensive at all and the more expensive brands I own I often purchased at consignment stores or eBay. There are many women who barely wear their shoes, sometimes not at all, and they get tired of them and give them away or sell them. I do think if you are going to put money into something it should be your accessories. You can make an inexpensive pair of jeans and a white tee shirt look chic just by adding a great bag and shoes.
I did a blog post in January on “The only shoes you need in your closet” that featured 10 shoes you need for any type of event. I also host a link up every Monday, called SHOE AND TELL, not just for shoes! I feature different shoes with shopping links so be sure to stop by.
Deb: Tell me about your “Shop Your Husband’s Closet” posts. Where did the inspiration come from? I love the idea of shopping “outside the box”.
What items are your favorite items to steal from your husband’s closet?
Cherie: I have always shopped “outside the box”. I enjoy the challenge of styling just about anything. In fact, someone recently challenged me to style a burlap bag, I’m just not sure where to find one?! One of my favorite style icons is Coco Chanel. She was inspired early on by men’s fashion and some of her first designs were fashioned from the clothes of the men in her life. Men’s clothes are so classic. I wear oversized men’s shirts a lot. I went to a black tie event recently and wore a man’s dress shirt with a silk evening skirt. Besides stealing my husband’s shirts, I steal his sweaters, belts and coats.
Deb: Anyone else’s closet you’d like to shop these days and why?
Cherie: Oh, I wish. I have two closets I’d like to shop in. Ines de la Fressange’s closet because she is the epitome of French style and she has an incredible collection of Roger Vivier shoes and handbags (my favorite!). And, Kate Moss’ closet. She exudes a natural, effortless style and she has an extensive collection of vintage pieces.
Deb: Biggest Fashion mistake you ever made and what you learned from it?
Cherie: I can’t think of a specific example, but I can tell you that when I try to emulate someone else’s style it just doesn’t feel right. If you can be yourself, and you are comfortable in your clothes, it shows and it’s hard to make a fashion mistake.
Deb: Your daughter is your photographer. What is that like? I’m sure you have given her style advice growing up. Has she ever given you some good style advice?
Cherie: Yes she is! It has been great to work together with her on this adventure. It’s a little challenging to arrange for our photo shoots now that she is in high school, but after doing the blog for two years, we can do the shoots pretty quickly.
I try not to give her too much style advice. I want her to find her own style. But, if she asks, she knows that I will be honest in my critique. Since she has gotten older she often comes to me for style advice, and I am flattered when she does. Yes, she gives me style advice. I will go to both of my daughters and ask them their opinion on a particular outfit, they are usually right on and are honest with me, which I very much appreciate.
Deb: Last words of advice or inspiration or anything else you would like to add?
Cherie: Yes, I started STYLE NUDGE for two main reasons.
The first reason was to “nudge” women to discover their own individual style and to take style risks. We all worry so much about what other people may think, but as I’ve gotten older I have realized that this is silly. It’s important to dress for yourself. Please yourself first, wear what you are comfortable in and wear what is flattering on YOU and you will exude great style.
The second reason was to show that style is ageless. If you are stylish, you are stylish, regardless of your age. Some of my favorite style icons, like Linda Rodin and Iris Apfel, are older than me and they have fabulous style.
All I know, is I want to be wearing leopard and heels when I’m 90!
Deb: Thanks Cherie for sharing your style insights with us. Ladies, be sure to visit Cherie’s wonderful blog, Style Nudge to see more of her daily outfits and style inspiration.