Texas is known for being behind the times rather than forward-thinking when it comes to fashion. But with the proliferation of personal blogs over the past five years, Lone Star State consumers have been exposed to incredibly creative and influential interpretations of individual style.
Thanks to these internet icons, particularly Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes, more and more women realize they can maintain their individual senses of style while incorporating interesting, powerful brands into their wardrobes — brands like Tibi, which hosted a trunk show last Thursday and Friday at By George, co-sponsored by Aldridge herself.
Aldridge and Tibi designer Amy Smilovic formed a surprisingly laid back, approachable team happy to talk about everything from textile quality to a sense of adventure in fashion with shoppers perusing Tibi’s fall 2013 collection, which is best described as sportswear with utilitarian polish — think clean, minimal pieces that stand on their own as sharp statements of sophistication.
"Women in Texas have such a strong sense of identity and they don't want to follow the trends or do the super-Dallas thing or super-Austin thing — they want to do their own thing," says Jane Alridge.
The partnership came about when Smilovic asked Aldridge, now a veritable celebrity in her own right, to play a central role in Tibi's first ever trunk show in Texas, saying "We look at bloggers all the time in the office, and there are some that you just really connect with. We've always loved Jane's style from years ago when she first started, when there were just a handful [of bloggers] like her and Elin [of Elin Kling] and Leandra [of Manrepeller]. It was just natural that we reach out to her."
Aldridge, who hails from Dallas, is known for having developed a taste for luxury at a very young age (she started Sea of Shoes at 15; she's now 21) and mixing it with a passion for thrifting, the results of which she posts photos of online. Knowing this predilection, it was no surprise to see her dressed in a flannel shirt, Birkenstocks and Tibi knit pencil skirt on Thursday, and, on Friday, a black Megadeth T-shirt tucked into a deftly engineered, voluminous Tibi silk wool skirt.
"We were just talking about how so many women in Texas have such a strong sense of identity, and they don't want to follow the trends or do the super-Dallas thing or super-Austin thing — they want to do their own thing," Alridge explained, gesturing toward her own outfit.
Tibi certainly has struck the perfect balance in designing elevated everyday basics that work in a variety of environments and circumstances. No matter the season or what's trending, Smilovic's collections are always marked by a strong sense of structure and rich textiles, which she admits she's "crazy about."
However, knowing that not everyone who fawns over fabrics like lurex jacquard can afford it, Smilovic advises fashion lovers to "bypass Forever 21 and go straight to the vintage store."
"Especially now that the quality of textiles is being compromised more and more," Aldridge, who claims Dallas has some of the best vintage stores in the nation, chimes in. "You almost have to shop either high end or vintage if you're looking for that quality. And it’s very competitive!”
It’s that very kind of high-energy outing that Smilovic has designed for, resulting in a look that's practical but will stand out chicly against the masses.
“My design team is all women, and I’m also a mother, so I understand what it's like to run around all day. So having things that are comfortable but also put together with a bit of structure is what I really try and achieve in all styles and all seasons.”