Style talk: An inside look at Austin's top fashion and style bloggers
Next on my monthly installment of Austin's top bloggers are five stylish women who dish on all things beauty and fashion. After covering music, relationships and food, this month I'm sharing my list of Austin's top style bloggers.
Just in case you think no possible good could ever come of having the swine flu, meet Joanna Wilkinson. Bedridden with the illness and without a TV, Wilkinson’s need to constantly create drove her to start her blog, Keep Austin Stylish. “I really wanted to inform Austinites of local stylish stores and encourage people to shop locally since I think it's really important to our economy and also to the foundation of this unique city,” she says.
“I have always loved fashion and shopping at funky local boutiques.”
Some of her earliest childhood memories involve clothing and the art of personal style. “I remember twirling around in my Grammy's petticoats at her house and making costumes out of old outdated clothes and accessories. I've always loved clothes because depending on what you are wearing, you can transform yourself into a different person.”
In college, Wilkinson struggled with choosing a single career concentration, and after graduation she was still lost and confused. She got a job at Austin boutique SoLa, where she learned a lot about local designers. “I have always loved fashion and shopping at funky local boutiques.” She loves the vintage clothing scene in Austin, and how affordable it is compared to other cities. She includes Feathers, Charm School Vintage and Room Service Vintage among her favorite places to shop, and South Congress is where she goes to walk around and get awesome street style photos.
Wilkinson’s top beauty advice: She would like to see more people taking risks with their fashion; embracing their creative sides and dressing for fun without worrying about what other people think.
“I find it freeing and fun to be able to wear something completely different each day and put off a different vibe,” Wilkinson says. “Fashion is extremely powerful.”
She can’t explain the origins of her love of makeup, skin care and fashion, claims Jenn Wijangco. She blames her mother, who she says was naturally beautiful and knew how to enhance her beauty — with said procedures apparently having a big influence on the young girl.
“From a very young age, I paid careful attention to how my outfits were assembled, and when I was old enough to wear makeup, those two worlds came together,” says Wijangco. “I still very much think that a nice outfit or dress does not attain its full potential until you pair it with the right makeup, hair and accessories.”
“From a very young age, I paid careful attention to how my outfits were assembled."
Beautypendence was declared in September 2011 after her friend (a co-contributor) realized the lack of beauty blogs in Austin. The women share a love of beauty products, but need their own individualized advice on how to best use them.
“We were interested in sharing our subjective opinions related to all things beauty-related, fully recognizing that there is no one definition of what is beautiful.”
For makeup, Wijangco shops at Neiman Marcus, Sephora and H-E-B, even chronicling her “extreme couponing adventures” at H-E-B on her blog.But what would she write about if not all things beauty-related? According to Wijangco, she'd likely find something to say about her four other loves: films, food, art and UT football.
Wijangco’s top beauty advice: Don’t be lazy with taking care of your skin or how you dress. She also stresses the importance of wearing sun protection on your face every single day.
“You only get one life, so why aren’t you making the most of it every day?"
Diya Liu has a very unusual pedigree for a style blogger — she is a chemical engineer with a biochemistry background. In fact, that is exactly why she started her blog in 2010; she never saw a fashion blogger from the science or engineering fields. “I thought that I can't be the only one that loves fashion as well as a highly analytical field,” Liu says. "I thought, 'I can't be the only one in a highly analytical field who loves fashion.'"
While she has always loved dressing up and looking well-presented, it wasn’t until high school that Liu really started experimenting with her own personal style. By college, she was paying close attention to both high fashion runways and street style. In Her Stilettos is gorgeous to look at and full of lush fashion shots straight off the street.
"I thought, 'I can't be the only one in a highly analytical field who loves fashion.'"
Because of her busy lifestyle, Liu admits to mostly shopping online. When she does get out for some retail therapy, she is a huge fan of the vintage stores on The Drag and South 1st, as well as the City Wide Garage Sale.
“When I have both a bit of money and free time (which is rare) I'll head to the 2nd Street District and The Domain. Dog and Pony is my go-to source for customizations on jackets and jeans.”
Liu’s top beauty advice: Don’t follow the trends. Wear what suits both your body type and your own personality; don’t wear something just because it’s “in” if it doesn’t look good on you or make you feel comfortable.
You know that 'weird' girl in school, the one who was so unconventional and cutting-edge that she stuck out? That was Sandhya Ganesha. “I struggled a lot between trying to be normal and accepted versus being anxious to be fashion forward and unique,” Ganesha says. “I used to go to garage sales even when I was a kid; I remember I bought a statement necklace when I was about 10 that wasn't very ‘cool’ so I never really wore it. I still have it and rock it proudly all time now!”
“I used to go to garage sales even when I was a kid."
Today she has gotten over that hurdle and expresses herself through her personal style. She started The Style Co-Op with co-blogger Amy, as a creative outlet from her boring corporate job. There, she shares anything that inspires her at the moment, from a fun nail polish to a quirky cookie cutter or just a good quotation. But fashion and clothes are what occupy most of Ganesha’s thoughts.
“I think the biggest draw for me is that I can completely change how I look with a few tweaks, therefore changing my persona and even my attitude. I get to really express who I am for the moment.” She admits that she might possibly be addicted to shopping, and is obsessed with thrift stores and consignment boutiques. “I love a good treasure hunt for unique items.” Unsurprisingly, she stays away from chain stores because she hates to be seen in something that other people are wearing.
Ganesha’s top beauty advice: Don't put a lot of pressure on yourself. Be true to your passion and don't worry about doing something exactly right. Do it for yourself and to give yourself an outlet, rather than what you get because of it.
When Merritt Beck started The Style Scribe in February 2011, she did so as an anonymous blogger. “I really needed a creative outlet for my fashion obsession other than the online shopping that was honestly hurting my wallet,” she says. “I didn’t realize its business potential until I began receiving requests to work with brands and emails about joining a number of affiliate programs.”
While Beck doesn’t recall a specific event that sparked her obsession with fashion, she credits both her mother's and grandmother's exquisite style and exceptional taste as early inspirations. In college, she landed a fashion intern role atD Magazine, an experience that really fueled her passion for style.
“I really needed a creative outlet for my fashion obsession other than the online shopping that was honestly hurting my wallet,.
Beck loves shopping with her sister Alexandra, who works at Neiman Marcus. “She always picks out items she knows I’ll like and will walk around with me to help me find exactly what I’m looking for. Aside from that, I really love BuyDefinition, ByGeorge and the Kendra Scott boutique on South Congress. All of these are great places for getting gorgeous pieces that are chic and on trend.”
Beck’s top beauty advice: If you feel like you’re hesitating on buying something or you just aren’t sure about it, don’t buy it. Chances are, if you loved something enough there would be nothing to think about.
"Save your money for items you really need or love — in this economy, it’s silly to waste it on mediocre pieces!"