2015 Austin Stylemaker
Stylemaker Finalists

Who will be Austin's first-ever Stylemaker? Top 6 spill style secrets and fads that should be gone for good

Who will be Austin's Stylemaker? Top 6 spill secrets to flawless style

Austin Stylemaker 2015 Kandi Cook
Kandi Cook Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Sylvia Vaquera
Sylvia Vaquera Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Shelley Neuman
Shelley Neuman Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Travis Sandoval
Travis Sandoval Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Dani Austin
Dani Austin Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Jessi Afshin
Jessi Afshin Courtesy photo
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Kandi Cook
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Sylvia Vaquera
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Shelley Neuman
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Travis Sandoval
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Dani Austin
Austin Stylemaker 2015 Jessi Afshin

At the beginning of September, we turned to CultureMap’s stylish readers to find the most fashionable people in Austin for our inaugural Stylemaker Awards. After narrowing down the nominations to 12 Stylemaker semifinalists, you hit the polls to weigh in on your preferred trendsetters.

The votes are in and you let us know who deserves to be recognized in the finals. With six stylish Austinites to choose from, cast your vote now to select your favorite. On October 8, we will reveal the first-ever CultureMap Stylemaker winners, including the Editorial Choice winner (determined by our staff and savvy fashion contributors) and the Readers’ Choice winner (determined by you).

We looked to our final six Stylemakers for fashion advice in order to help you get to know a little more about them, their secrets to being stylish, and trends that should be buried for good. Here’s what they had to say:

Sylvia Vaquera
Fashion blogger

Go-to fashion staple: Black, anything and everything in black. I've always been partial to this classic, chic color.

The secret to being stylish: Confidence. If you love what you're wearing you should wear it with pride. 

Trend you wish would go away: The man bun, sorry guys, just no. 

Travis Sandoval
Video producer

Go-to fashion staple: A white oxford is always a good choice. It's appropriate for practically anything and looks so crisp and cool. I also love my Clarks desert boots. They fit with almost any outfit. If you're dressed up they add a certain rugged quality that gives the impression you didn't think about your wardrobe, you woke up like this. Both are so versatile that when I travel, these are the first two things I pack.

The secret to being stylish: The impression that you don’t try. My close friends know that I change maybe five times before I leave the house, only to show up in a white T-shirt and jeans. Nothing should look too affected or overdone. It’s a mix of knowing what’s trending, what’s classic, and proper tailoring. There’s thought behind it but overall, your style should be uniquely you. The worst style is copying something and looking like you’re in a costume.

Trend you wish would go away: When we resurrect fashion trends, it should be like a greatest hits album. The high-waisted blue jeans are definitely one of the low points of the ‘90s. Our jeans changed for a reason. I don’t know that flip-flops for every occasion is a trend so much as a lifestyle in Austin. If being poolside isn’t in your plans today, you should probably put on some real shoes. And if you wear them out to a bar tonight, don’t get mad if someone steps on your bare foot. You chose this.

Shelley Neuman
Fashion blogger and photographer

Go-to fashion staple: A nice simple pair of low-top boots or "booties." I wear my Sam Edelman boots pretty much nonstop. They look good with everything and are trans-seasonal.

The secret to being stylish: Constantly observe what others are wearing. Before I started my street style blog, I didn't consider myself to be "stylish," but constantly taking pictures of other stylish people inspires me, teaches me new things about style, and introduces me to brands and trends that I might not have been aware of. I also have a borderline unhealthy obsession with looking at fashion magazines as well as street style and fashion blogs from around the world, which are a constant whirlwind of inspiration.

Trend you wish would go away: Wedge sneakers. They just make people's feet look odd and deformed.

Kandi Cook
Event planner, personal stylist

Go-to fashion staple: Accessories. Accessories, killer shoes, or a dramatic necklace can change the entire look of an outfit.

The secret to being stylish: Outfit planning. Having outfits set aside assures that you are always stylish even on those days when you aren't feeling your best. 

Trend you wish would go away: Yoga pants. Yoga pants should not be part of your wardrobe worn outside of yoga class. 

Dani Austin
YouTube personality and fashion blogger

Go-to fashion staple: A backless jumpsuit. Jumpsuits have transitioned from trend to staple in my wardrobe. They solve every wardrobe problem I have in regards to dress code. During the day I will wear a jumpsuit with a bomber jacket and in the evening, I’ll pair it with a statement necklace and heels.

The secret to being stylish: Being stylish is about finding your own sense of self so I always buy clothes that I'm excited to wear and feel great in. The goal is for my outfit to fit my personality and lifestyle so I don't worry too much about labels or brands. The most stylish women are the ones who can mix discounted trendy pieces, designer staples, and vintage statement items. 

Trend you wish would go away: Not sure how I feel about the lady loafer trend. I'm all about comfy shoes, but I can't seem to find a pair that looks feminine and flattering.

Jessi Afshin
Fashion blogger

Go-to fashion staple: My Ray-Ban aviators in gunmetal. My style is about keeping things effortless and casual while also adding just the right amount of chic and trendy flair. These on-trend sunnies are the perfect wardrobe staple and accessory for keeping things stylish in a city as casual as our very dear Austin, Texas.

The secret to being stylish: Staying true to myself. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what everybody else is wanting, wearing, and coveting in today’s online fashion world — especially with so many fast-fashion trends around. I like to add in at least one timeless accessory or staple to every single one of my outfit ensembles.

Trend you wish would go away: My blog thrives off trends to an extent, since my millennial-based audience loves of all things trendy. So I can’t say there’s a trend I don’t love. Trends keep things fresh and fast moving in the fashion industry and play such an important part in driving sales and inspiring outfits. I love them all.


Want to party with the Stylemaker Award finalists? Get your tickets now for the CultureMap Social: The Style Edition, on Monday, September 28 at The Belmont.