If you’re a long-time fan of Fabulous after 40, you’ve probably seen many photos of Carina Salanga-Montecillo.
Carina is a loyal reader who first shared a photo of herself three years ago and has contributed ever since.
This petite powerhouse with the gorgeous smile is actually a 50- year- old (yes 50!) stay-at-home mom from New York who just happens to enjoy photography and fashion. I recently got the chance to chat with Carina and learn more about her style. Here is my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: How did a stay-at-home mom start photographing her outfits and sending in photos?
Carina: Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to dress up. My favorite pastime was paper dolls and Barbies. I worked for three companies in New York before I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, and I was always referred to as the “best dressed” in the company. My co-workers called me a “trend-setter” because I love to put things together.
I found Fabulous After 40 through Facebook a few years ago and decided to share my outfits. I was surprised you posted my pictures because most of your posts are fashion bloggers.
My husband takes most of my photos and my youngest daughter from time to time. I choose the location and best spot where my photos are taken. They are fine with it. They know I love taking pictures of almost everything, and they know it makes me happy.
Deb: Why have you never started a blog, and do you ever plan to?
Carina: I’ve never really thought about it. My friends want me to create my own blog, not just about fashion but also about food and nature, since I like to photograph these things well and post them.
Deb: How would you describe your style?
Carina: I like variety, and I change my style all the time. What I wear depends on my mood, but I’m always inspired by looks that float between being casual-cool- comfortable- street chic-effortless, but most of all classy and sexy.
Deb: You grew up in the Philippines and came to NY in 1988. How has your background influenced your style?
Carina: Believe it or not — we are up to date in the Philippines with everything, including fashion. So whatever I am wearing now is not because of where I came from or my culture. It’s just my own taste and style.
Deb: Did you make any wardrobe changes when you came to America?
Carina: Not really! The only difference is that we don’t have cold months in the Philippines. But that’s one of the things I love about New York. I like wearing boots and coats and accessorizing my winter and fall outfits with my beanie hats. Since I love to dress up, I’m happy that we have four seasons here, so I can create different ensembles and change my outfits every season.
Deb: You are petite. Does that pose any challenges?
Carina: I am 5 ft, 3 inches tall. I’ve never had problems shopping for my clothes. I’m happy that sometimes I can buy my outfits from the junior department! Being petite, I do avoid maxi dresses unless I get them hemmed because most of them are two to three inches too long for me. I prefer mini skirts, short dresses or knee-length ones because I am petite, but I also love to show my legs!
Deb: If you could spend a day in someone’s closet trying on their clothes – who would it be and why?
Carina: Jennifer Aniston…When I watched her on “Friends” a few years ago, her choice of clothes and her sense of style were the first things I noticed about her. She looks sexy without showing a lot of, skin and she looks “natural” and fresh all the time. I love her simple, classy style.
On the red carpet, she looks elegant, but she can also just wear blue jeans and a tee-shirt and look great! I have never seen her looking “trashy.” Even her hair and makeup are simple. And I think she is also petite like me! :)
Deb: What is your fashion weakness- the thing you can’t resist?
Carina: Sunglasses. I always find myself in a store where they sell sunglasses. I could spend hours trying on sunglasses. I’m like a kid in a candy store! I can’t leave home without my sunnies! I bring at least three pairs when I go on vacation.
Deb: Trends you love right now and why?
Carina: I love the bohemian trend right now. I hope it stays! I’m drawn to bell sleeves and off-the-shoulder boho dresses and tops, and I am excited that they are trendy right now! For me, wearing a bohemian style top/dress is easy to look casual yet alluring.
Trends I don’t love…Maxi dresses — I only have two maxi dresses. I only wore one of them a couple of years ago, which was the only time I wore it. I honestly don’t think they’re for me.
Deb: If someone gave you a gift card for an unlimited amount to buy a luxury fashion item, what would it be. Why?
Carina: A designer’s bag or a costly pair of shoes. They both add glamor and charm to whatever I’m wearing. I hope my husband is reading this so I can go shopping again soon! ;)
Deb: You always look so happy in your photos. I sense that fashion gives you a lot of joy?
Carina: I think I am a happy kind of gal 99% of the time. Most of my friends (including my doctors and neighbors) ask me why I’m always laughing and smiling.
Dressing up helps me express myself. When I dress up, I’m in a different world! I am a paper doll come to life! I love to shop for clothes. I could do it every day. And of course, I get very excited once I get to wear what I’ve bought. In my next life, I think I will either be a fashion stylist (female Tim Gunn) or maybe a fashion model (but I need to be at least nine inches taller!).
Deb: Any fashion pet peeves?
Carina: I have so many. Pajamas and sweatpants are worn outside the house… I don’t even wear them inside the house. Also, I wouldn’t say I like shoes or accessories that don’t match the outfit. I believe in “freestyle,” but sometimes people go overboard.
For me, most of the time — simplicity is beautiful. I love to play around with colors and accessories, but I still make it look as simple as possible… not too much… just a little bit. I am also not a fan of tee shirts worn with a fancy skirt and vice versa. I could go on and on. Should I stop now? :)
Deb: As a busy mom of three kids, have you ever fallen into the mom fashion rut?
Carina: Luckily, I haven’t. I am very organized, so I always know and plan what to wear the next day, especially if we are going out. Also, my closet is organized, so it’s easy to find my tops and bottoms, as well as my sunnies and accessories.
Deb: You have two teenage daughters. Do they seek your style advice?
Carina: Most of the time, both of my girls ask my opinion when they shop for their clothes. Each has a different style. My 16-year-old is very into fashion, and she’s been designing clothes since she was five years old. She also plans to be in the fashion industry someday. My 14-year-old likes simple looks and loves anything black. They both have good fashion sense like their mom!
Deb: Do you have any wise words for stay a home mom who wants to look stylish and feel good?
Carina: Make sure you have all the basics in your closet. Do not buy something that you are not comfortable wearing. Just because it looks good on someone else doesn’t mean it also looks good on you. Always look for something that fits you right — whether you’re a big girl or a petite girl like me, find something that is really your size.
Also, make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free as much as possible. For me, neatness is essential. Do not forget to accessorize (again, not too much!)… and always SMILE!
And last but not least… always keep in mind — “GOOD TASTE NEVER GOES OUT OF STYLE!”.
Thank you, Deborah. More power to you and all the Fabulous After 40 gals out there!
Deb: Thank you so much, Carina, for sharing your lovely style and thoughts on fashion with us! You are Fabulous!