The Elements of Style
Our annual round-up of the fashion-forward folks making Arkansas look good
First things first, Nancy Martin wants to know if you have any “one-hour” shoes. You know, the kind that look so good, so sophisticated, but that you secretly slip off under your desk when no one’s looking.
“Well, I had a closet of one-hour skirts,” she says. “When I got home, I couldn’t wait to rip them off. They were just so uncomfortable.”
That dilemma was enough to send this longtime fashion devotee (and pencil-skirt aficionado) on a quest to make the perfect slim-lined, figure-friendly, wear-with-everything skirt—a quest that started with a friend of a friend of a friend who worked in the fashion industry in New York City. “She was my entree into New York, into the factories, the materials, the pattern makers and all that,” Nancy says. “Six months later, in June of 2012, I had my first products.”
Those first products—ponte pencil skirts hued in black, chocolate brown and cranberry red—more than exceeded the one-hour-skirt test. Two years later, the Bentonville-based attorney is still tweaking her patterns, expanding her offerings (skirts are now available in sizes 0 to 14)—and pushing new style boundaries.
“This season, I’m adding a black neoprene skirt, which I’m calling my ‘yoga skirt,’” says Nancy. “It’s lined with lavender—I love a little flash of color.”
YOUR STYLE, YOUR WORDS: Preppy, with an avant-garde twist. Traditional with an edge.
DESIGNER IDOLS: Haider Ackermann and Ralph Lauren.
SIGNATURE ACCESSORY: Pearls. I always wear pearls in some capacity, every day.
FASHION NO-NO: American women wear their clothes too big. Tailored pieces are so much more flattering!
STYLE ADVICE: Less is more—figure out what you like, what looks good on you, and stick with it.
Nancy paired a skirt of her own design with a sweater and accessories from Klothe in Bentonville.
THE MENSWEAR GURU
JAMIE DAVIDSON, STRONG SUIT
When asked where the Little Rock-based designer behind the year-old boutique menswear brand Strong Suit (as well as Tre Vero, his longtime Dillard’s line) got his sense of style, he’s quick to answer.
“My grandfather, Julian Davidson,” Jamie says. “Absolutely.”
But that’s not all he has to say about his grandfather. He’ll tell you that Julian Davidson was one of the original partners of Wittenberg, Delony & Davidson Architects and built half of Little Rock, including the light-filled, midcentury modern house in the Heights Jamie now calls home. (His grandfather also graduated first in his class at MIT and designed a fuse for the atomic bomb during his stint with the Manhattan Project, but those are stories for another time.)
“His design principle was always minimal, but with attention to details,” says Jamie. “And as for men’s fashion—men want to wear something individual, but it’s all about the subtlety. My grandfather’s architecture was not over the top; it was about efficiency. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Strong Suit. It’s all about the fit, the details, the stitching, the little things.”
YOUR STYLE, YOUR WORDS: Simple, nuanced, specific.
THE ONE SUIT EVERY MAN NEEDS: Easy: classic navy. It’s by far the most versatile.
CASUAL JAMIE WEARS: Either the one pair of jeans I own, made by a Kansas City designer named Matt Baldwin, or a pair of Tre Vero slim-lined khakis.
DESIGNER YOU ADMIRE: Brunello Cucinelli.
ONE THING YOU ALWAYS HAVE ON: A watch I got as a 10th-grader at a flea market for $10.
Jamie is outfitted in pieces from Strong Suit’s Spring 2014 line.
KATIE EVANS & DARCY MUNOZ, HELLO LUVVY
The blogosphere is a funny place. You spend hours a week on your favorite lifestyle blog—pinning recipes, brushing up on beauty tutorials, perusing wardrobe inspiration—and come away feeling like you know the people behind the posts. But can the bloggers really be as eminently adorable as their digital selves? Are they actually as affable as they seem on the screen?
When it comes to Hello Luvvy co-founders Darcy Munoz and Katie Evans, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Yes, and yes. It doesn’t take more than, say, 15 minutes chatting over rose-scented phosphate sodas to feel like you’ve known them for years.
Since the age of 6, when they discovered a shared affinity for all things girly—“We played Barbies way longer than we should have,” says Katie with a laugh—this duo of Harrison natives has been the best of friends. These days, they are at the helm of one of Arkansas’ most successful lifestyle blogs, and along with a trio of contributors, they muse on fashion, beauty, motherhood, travel, food and entertaining. But for Darcy and Katie, who took on the project as a creative outlet a year and a half ago (and who still hold down full-time jobs while managing the Hello Luvvy content), the mission extends well beyond chia-seed smoothies and DIY flower sunglasses.
“There’s a general vibe of positivity and support, and not just ‘Look at our cute lives!’” says Katie. “We want to be supportive and informative. I think we’re really honest, and women have really responded to that.”
“We want to be really women-centered, and we’re trying to figure out what we as women need to feel more comfortable,” adds Darcy. “Everyone struggles with that, and we want to help.”
YOUR STYLE, YOUR WORDS: Relaxed, preppy and classic.
STYLE ICON: Kate Middleton and/or Beyoncé.
ALWAYS IN YOUR PURSE: Bobby pins, red lipstick and black eyeliner.
JEANS OR LEATHER?: Jeans. All day, every day.
BLOGS YOU FOLLOW: A Beautiful Mess, Robin Black’s Beauty Is Boring and Byrdie.com.
YOUR STYLE, YOUR WORDS: Fun, feminine, ever-evolving.
ITEM YOU’LL NEVER PART WITH: A vintage brooch my grandmother gave to me.
TREND FOR FALL: High-rise jeans, over-the-knee socks, ankle boots and collars.
MAKEUP MUST-HAVE: A great lipstick and mascara.
BLOGS YOU FOLLOW: Design Love Fest, P.S. I Made This, Man Repeller and Southern Blog Society.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS HAUNTS: Noodles; Cafe Rue Orleans; local boutiques such as Maude, Savoir Faire & Cheap Thrills; Retrospect Flea Market; and Crystal Bridges.