Where Life Meets Style – A hump day Q and A

Aaron Leth

So, my little fashion felines, do I have a treat for you! In the words of a certain “cool mom” circa LiLo’s glory days, “a hump-day treat.”

As many of you probably don’t know, the Twin Cities isn’t that dumb when it comes to style and taste; after all, couturier Monique Lhuillier has one of only two U.S. boutiques in our very own Edina (the other’s in Los Angeles). And there are several voices behind our fashion scene that help keep us smart and tart about shopping and sock hopping (sans poodle skirts).

One of these voices is Allison Kaplan, consumer and fashion columnist at St. Paul’s Pioneer Press. I hit her up for a quick Q & A to gab about all things awesome, naturally…

Aaron Leth: What store is the Twin Cities missing?

Allison Kaplan: “Just one? I’d have to go with Barneys. Actually, I’d be thrilled just with a Barneys co-op.”

AL: What was your style like in your college years?

AK: “Nothing that screamed ‘future style columnist.’ Levi’s – carefully distressed to perfection, and sweaters much roomier than anything I’d wear today.”

AL: There are so many well-dressed celebs. Who’s at the top of their game?

AK: “Reese Witherspoon: She makes elegant seem effortless. Halle Berry: Need I say more? Gwen Stefani: I could never wear what she wears, and usually wouldn’t even want to, but her willingness to take risks and be different makes her someone to watch.”

AL: Favorite designers?

AK: “I can give you a long list of designers I respect and can’t often afford: Matthew Williamson, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui, Chanel and so on. But if you want to know what brands actually fill my closet, it’s Free People, BCBG, Nanette Lepore, Theory and just about every private label line from Anthropologie.”

AL: What advice would you give to budding style mavens?

AK: “Don’t become a slave to the trends. Figure out what looks good on you and stick with it – you’ll always feel better. For those who want to get into the fashion world, I’d say be realistic about what a small, rarified world it really is. Make sure you’re well rounded, whether that means writing about other subjects (I worked my way up from hard news), knowing the business side or being able to do more than sew. You need the whole package.”

AL: I’m insanely jealous that you’ve seen the first episode of Project Runway 4. What can you tell us?

AK: “Same characters, different names. But it’s still just as juicy and engaging as it was in season one.”

AL: What’s one trend you want to say ‘good riddance’ to?

AK: “High-waisted pants/skirts. Just not a flattering look on most of us.”

AL: Editors read a ton. What do you like to read for either inspiration or trend ideas?

AK: “I read everything from Newsweek to Vogue. W and WWD for magazines – definite must-reads for me. All the usuals: InStyle, Lucky, Bazaar, People. And Seventeen. Keeps me young.”

AL: What’s your favorite/best bargain find ever?

AK: “My fave Cole Haan kickass black boots with buckles. I waited and waited and finally scored the last pair in my size at half-off.”

AL: Who’s your style icon?

AK: “My mother. She has the innate sense for what works.”

AL: And you have a shopping blog in addition to your column.

AK: “I’ve got a great resource for you. It’s my Web site: AliShops.com. It’s a directory of all the cool, independent stores in town, and you’ll be amazed how many exist. Check back every week for the scoop on new stores, hot products and shopping events and sales you won’t want to miss.”

There you have it, kiddies. Drink it in, because she knows her style stuff – and she’s awesome. Happy hump day!