Every woman wants to be unique, and Diane Capozzi is no different. The 45-year-old creator of Fashion On The 4th Floor is a self-professed tomboy, whose aim is to “break all the fashion rules or at least bend them.”
This Massachusetts blogger with a pretty smile and happy-go-lucky attitude is both an athlete and an ex-model. Diane says if clothes are a silent message, she wants to be heard loud and clear!
I recently had the chance to chat with Diane about her style and her blog (only 3 months old). Here is my interview with this Fabulous After 40 Styleblazer.
Deb: You had an interesting relationship with fashion growing up. You say it was never a part of your vocabulary, but something you secretly desired in your life. Tell us more.
Diane: I would probably use the word negative versus interesting to describe my relationship with fashion as a child. I wouldn’t say my hometown was fashionable, but there were certainly fashionable girls who I marveled at their clothing. So, there began the “love/hate” relationship with fashion. I envied the pretty girls in school who dressed so nicely, yet at the same time, I was fascinated with what they wore. I had immense yearning & ached to feel pretty & dress like them.
The fact that I hit 5’9” by age 9, being dark-skinned, being constantly asked if I was a boy or a girl, having to wear hand-me-downs from my two older brothers, and also having a mother who wasn’t into clothing or fashion gave me such a feeling of inadequacy. I mean, who wants to wear their older brothers used “tough skin” jeans, sneakers with holes & used “Penguin” polo shirts.
Deb: How would you describe your style today?
Diane: Eclectic, experimental, colorful, varied, with a hint of unexpected and tomboy.
Deb: You’ve lived in many countries. Where, and how did these countries influence your ideas on style?
Diane: Let’s see, four countries. Does working on the cruise ship count as a country?!?! Hehehe! Hungary, Bermuda, England, Cayman Islands, and now living just outside of Boston.
Hungary was a socialist economy. When I was there I felt the true sense of their financial struggle. Taking care of basic needs was the only priority for most, but Budapest had a very dark, cool, and edgy vibe. Styling was simple, functional; nothing outlandish!
Bermuda & the Cayman Islands brought out the festive, vibrant side to styling! There was such freedom with color; it was casual, minimal, and unfussy. No one was a slave to trends; it was carefree and that suited my personality.
Living in England, San Francisco & now Massachusetts, again I gravitated towards functional, and durable and I definitely lacked creativity. That is probably due to lack of financial means & the harsh weather. You have to be a chameleon when living in such diverse environments, as the lifestyle influences your fashion choices.
Deb: You did some modeling in your twenties. Tell us about that experience and what it taught you about yourself?
Diane: Wow, did I grow so much as a person from modeling! It’s an unbelievably tough, grueling, negative industry and not easy by any means. My husband gets so angry with me when I say, “I’m a failed model.” No, seriously! In my eyes, I wanted to accomplish much more, and it was frustrating, but I also know I was offered many more opportunities than other models out there.
After many years, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to feel unaccepted anymore. I learned that I was a genuine, deep, thoughtful person, and this shallow industry didn’t fit with who I was as a person.
Deb: You’re an athlete. What dressing challenges does an athletic body type present and how do you work around them?
Diane: I was a competitive swimmer for close to 20 years, so my shoulders are seriously broad, and I’m fairly narrow through my waist & hips. I have to order larger sizes to get the proper fit through my shoulders & arms; then I’m left with huge bulk around my waist. If I can give the number one styling tip: find a great tailor!!!
Deb: What trends do you love right now?
Diane: Culottes, culottes, culottes! They are so fun, comfy and a year-round workhorse in my arsenal. Since I’m in a real experimental phase in my life with fashion, I’m open to many trends and having fun with the creative process, so it is authentic and stylistically me.
Deb: You talk about your obsession with styling outfits in creative ways. Take us through that creative process. Where do you start and how do you know when you’ve got it right?
Diane: A great place for inspiration is the cardio machine at the gym. Yes, I spend quiet time exercising while I devour every fashion magazine out there, and I love studying the details of every fashion spread.
When I actually shop, there is always something specific in mind that I’m hunting for; I’m never just wandering or browsing. Another great starting point for myself is finding an item in my closet that I haven’t worn for ages. Question: why am I not wearing this? Then, I pull anything and everything (patterns, various silhouettes, texture) to re-work the look. A huge question I always ask is, “what would be the unexpected choice to pair with this item?” When I figure that out and have pulled together a look that’s fun and brings a sense of confidence, then I know it is perfect for me.
Deb: What is your magic recipe for Tomboy Chic?
Diane: My perfect finishing touch to achieve Tomboy Chic is clean, white sneakers, in fact, any sneakers. I’m obsessed with them & love all colors and styles.
Deb: Maxi skirts are a favorite. Why? What’s your favorite way to style them?
Diane: Well, I love maxi and midi skirts equally. Haven’t met a skirt that I didn’t like, just some more than others. Again, sneakers are so fun, unique, unexpected, and of course, a super comfy way to style a skirt.
Deb: Color is important to you. Do you choose colors based on emotion, or do you subscribe to any kind of color theory based on your skin or hair, etc.?
Diane: Color affects me greatly. I love almost all colors on the color wheel and my color choices definitely rotate as the seasons change. Right now, we have been renovating our vacation home in Florida, so teals, ocean blues, and mint green have been on my mind, and I generally tend to gravitate to that family of colors in fashion. They are soothing, make me feel so relaxed, and help me to unwind. Without a doubt, the fall colors in Massachusetts have been so striking & have definitely influenced my color choices when purchasing recent items.
Deb: You say you like to break the rules, or at least bend them. What is the biggest risk you took and did it work out?
Diane: I don’t think I’m taking a risk; I’m just making up for a lost time. I’m finally learning to live my life, not to live in fear of failure, discover my creative side, allow myself to open up more, and not let rules get in the way of my creative journey through fashion. It’s so refreshing not having to answer anyone.
Age shouldn’t determine what you should or should not be doing in life and that should spill over into fashion & your personal style. Since I’m just getting started, there are going to be a few fashion missteps along the way. There will be moments when something doesn’t work out or someone doesn’t agree with a styling choice, but as long as I feel internally happy, creative, and satisfied, then I’m ok.
Deb: Your fun personality shines through your photos. Many 40+ bloggers struggle with being in front of the camera. Any advice you can offer to help rid them of their inhibitions?
Diane: When I was modeling in my 20s, the photographer and others in the industry, never really provided a supportive, positive environment. Take the time to find a photographer (possibly a dear friend, or significant other) who you truly connect with, someone who believes in your vision and ideas. You will feel so much more comfortable in front of the camera. I always have outtakes in each post to show little moments of silliness & being my true self. It is also a way to keep shoots upbeat & fun.
Lookee here, we’ve been on earth for quite some time, so it’s time to shake off the insecurities and hang-ups from our past and reinvent our future. I know it sounds cliché, but you just have to have fun. This blog is all you; there is no right or wrong, just fun!
Deb: Advice to women who may be late to the game as you were and who are just now trying to find their style?
Diane: Listen to your inner voice; your gut instinct is generally the right choice. I finally started to ask myself, “Is that really me?” I might see an outfit or clothing item in a magazine or on someone else, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice/fit for me. By staying true to your personality, your personal style will reflect that.
Deb: Thanks, Diane, for sharing your fun and innovative approach to fashion with us. You are Fabulous!! Ladies, be sure to visit Diane at her blog Fashion on the 4th Floor.