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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ask RemChic: How to bring girly/trendy elements into an outdoorsy style

 A beautiful sunset in Flagstaff, Arizona

One of the main reasons why I started this blog is because I've had a lot of my friends ask me for fashion advice over the years and some of the questions I've received have definitely come up more than once. I love helping all of my friends/readers with their fashion questions, so I've decided to start a feature called Ask RemChic. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at with the subject line as Ask Remchic. If you prefer that I answer privately instead of through a post, please let me know. I completely respect your need for confidentiality =)

Here is our first question for Ask RemChic...

Question: "I live in Flagstaff [Arizona] which is a pretty hippie/outdoors community. Most people are seen wearing jeans and Patagonia pull overs. How can I wear cute heels, dresses, bags, etc. without coming off as over-the-top?"

This type of predicament isn't as rare as one may think. I know I for one have definitely encountered situations where I've felt the need to rework an outfit to accommodate the "mainstream" style around me. It may be acceptable to wear leather leggings and faux fur vests in New York, but I know in other places these items would be seen as faux pas.

Although I am an advocate for creative freedom, I understand sometimes the social setting/circumstances can influence your wardrobe. That is not something to be ashamed of! Together we can totally add in elements (in this case the need for girlier/refined/trendier pieces) into a scene where those notions may not be prevalent (in this case the norm is a more earthy/lax look).

Step One: Analyze What Comprises the Local Fashion Scene

Flagstaff, Arizona is in the heart of Northern Arizona, meaning high elevation, pine trees, the San Francisco Peaks, and a generally cooler climate. This generates a very earthy vibe and the need for outdoorsy brands that keep you warm (hence why brands like Patagonia are so popular). Of course, this is a pretty gross generalization, and I definitely don't want to offend anyone.

When I think of Flagstaff I think of the following elements:

Earth Tones: Obviously, Flagstaff is very influenced by the environment. Here is my compilation of earth tones. Of course, there are many more hues that can be considered "earth tones," but here is something that I generated to give you a general idea. All of these colors are fairly muted and have undertones of gray in them. However, that does not mean that they are not beautiful or unworkable- I happen to love earth colors more than other color pallets.

Hippie-Meets-Outdoorsy-Meets-Vintage: Whew! That's sort of a mouthful, but I think those three words really describe the style of Flagstaff (and other similar communities). Here's a little photo montage that encompasses all three of these elements, so you can see what I mean.

 Photo Credits* (clockwise from upper left): 

Step Two: How to Work What You Want Into Your Wardrobe

Okay, so now you have to take what you have and give it a little punch. This reader wants to know how to add heels, dresses, bags, and the like her her wardrobe. Here are my recommendations/tips for incorporating girlier/trendier items into ensembles that work well with the Flagstaff style.

Stick with black, dark brown, muted browns, and/or reds. I would also try and test the waters with a wedge, as the connotation of a wedge is a little big more on the casual side. You could also try pumps or sling backs with low heels, but again, I would try a wedge first.

Bags are pretty diverse. I would just steer clear of name brands like Coach and Louis Vuitton. I think the style community in Flagstaff would have a greater appreciation for a great thrifted bag. I would also recommend trying satchels and other "funkier" shapes. Slouchy, oversized hobo bags are always a great choice, especially if you are like me and carry a million things around everyday. Lastly, try to look for natural fibers or interesting textiles (canvas or woven) and cool prints/influences (floral or geometric).

As far as jewelry/hats, I looked for items that were first and foremost cute without being too loud or over-the-top. I also chose items that were somewhat eclectic in that they were hybrids of some of the different qualities demonstrated in Flagstaff style (hippie, outdoorsy, vintage). I also wanted accessories that could go with a wide range of outfits.

For dresses and tops I went with the same philosophy that has become a motif throughout this post: earthy, boho-inspired, etc. However, I noticed that I tended to pick garments that were loose or oversized. I'm not sure if this is just a personal preference, but it seems to me that if you are worried about looking overdone that looser items give off a casual/laid back vibe. Don't go too too big; however, or you will look frumpy! 

As far as bottoms, I picked bootcut and boyfriend jeans. Skinny jeans are also a must, but stick with dark washes. Skinny and bootcut jeans will do you wonders in Flagstaff, mostly because they are the best jeans to wear with boots. Shorts are easy as pie- anything that is dark denim, khaki, chocolate brown, navy, or black will be fine. For the solid colored shorts stick with cotton blends or corduroy. Steer clear of silky or tweed just won't go well with the Flagstaff vibe.

Step 3: Find Inspiration and Go Shopping

I use the website Shop Style religiously for tasks like this. It's a really good way to get the creative juices flowing, even if you aren't planning on buying anything online. I put together a sample collection of items that I feel fit girly/trendy/refined niche, while also complimenting the Flagstaff fashion philosophy. If you want to use Shop Style for this purpose, I would recommend typing any/all of the keywords below to help you meet the criteria of this post: 


Okay, so here is my little montage of clothing items that I would recommend for this reader to consider when facing this challenge. Of course, some of the items aren't the most budget-friendly (Frye boots, for example) but everything here is meant to be inspirational. The number one rule for personal style, in my opinion, is to make it your own. Feel comfortable and confident because beyond protection from the elements, clothing serves as a reflection of YOU. Have fun and happy shopping =)


I hope I answered this question! Do you have any other tips? Do you agree with my advice? Let me know with a comment!

*all photos are licensed under Creative Commons


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