View from hotel window.jpgI am fortunate enough to work on a high-profile design project which brings me to Chicago for a few days in the name of research. The task is to figure out what’s working and what’s not working for an office space designed by my firm to gain insight and apply solutions to future projects. The last time I felt inspired to write was my last visit to Chicago, so I find it appropriate I pick up where I left off nearly six months ago. Incidentally, it’s the same high-profile design project that pulled me away from posting new content.

As I sit on the very deep window sill of my hotel room at the Hard Rock Hotel with a view of the city to the North, and go over my thoughts from the day, I can’t help but notice how design infiltrates my every thought. Others seem unaware of the sights around them, and I’m irritated. What blows me away is the heads-down posture of walkers unaware of the beauty of historic buildings and holiday window displays surrounding them as they hustle to their destinations. I can’t believe it when my colleagues-for-the-week seem unaware of the artfully prepared food in front of them at an art deco inspired restaurant in the building named after the World’s Fair architect, Burnham. Astounded, I watch as the employees of the space I am researching appear immune to the panoramic views from the 53rd and 54th floors of the building they work in directly adjacent to Millennium Park, and Lake Michigan.

Perhaps the seeming neglect nags at me because Chicago is my favorite contradiction. It’s a place of innovation, and a place of great history. It’s of place of modern design, and of old buildings. It’s a city with natural beauty and landscape, paired against a thriving man-made metropolis. It’s timeless, and it’s stuck in time. It’s all of the things I strive for in my design work, and all that I try mercilessly to avoid. It’s the city where Donald Trump and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have both made their mark on the skyline. Perhaps it’s my visitor’s lens that allows me a different perspective than those who breathe it daily.

You might call me an urban romantic because I get lost in the buildings, designs, history, and even fashions surrounding me, while the world hustles, and eats, and works around me. I catch myself wondering why I constantly search for timeless designs and innovations, when what surrounds me from over a hundred years past stands the test of time admired by designers and tourists from around the world.

Over dinner this evening, I noticed a group of diners wearing plaid shirts and jackets. Plaid is the trend du jour in the fashion and design world, back from the Catholic school uniforms and 80’s sofas of the past. It’s been prevalent for many cycles in fashion and interiors, and I giggled at the irony of my sitting there observing the trend while wearing a vintage 1950’s plaid skirt. I was the contradiction. My conclusion from my stay is: what’s old is new, what’s new is recycled, what’s recycled gets old, repeat. While in Chicago, I have the viewing pleasure of seeing it from all angles.

I am heading back to the Twin Cities tomorrow with my work research in hand. My team’s observations of how people work and use the designed environment lead us dangerously back to office designs of the past from many decades ago. Based on what I see of the Chicago skyline as I look out the window, it’s apparent to me it was really only a matter of time. Repeat.

Chicago Style – NeoCon

For the next two days I will be at the epicenter of interior design at the Merchanise Mart in Chicago known as the one and only NeoCon.  I will be touring interior product showrooms, attending seminars, networking with manufacturer’s sales reps, enjoying happy hours and parties, and bringing it all back to influence and inform my designs for my corporate design clients and projects.  Of course, that’s not all.  I will also be wearing a carefully selected travel friendly wardrobe.  The style challenge?  To create a combination of outfits around my least favorite kind of footwear, The Flat.  From what I hear, NeoCon consists of all of the things I’ve already described, but the main component of my trip will be walking.  With my heels, platforms and wedges safely stowed in my St. Paul closet, I’ll be leaving on a jet-plane with the following nautical inspired delights:

flat sandals with tassels & feathers and red ballet flats

red, white and blue meet stripes and scarves

blazers and scarves are my go-to looks for plane travel

this dress has pockets – perfect for travel

bag with fringe benefits

my favorite striped carry-on tote

Retro Style – RetroRama

What is better than tiny Gimlet cocktails, vintage clothing, shopping, bingo, and a fashion show filled with local MN fashion designers?  Why, nothing of course!  I had an evening full of retro eye candy last night at the annual RetroRama event held at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. 

Of the many things to see at RetoRama, the fashion show was my favorite.  The show highlighted vintage looks made current by local MN designers.  The impressive list of designers included: Emma Berg, Danielle Everine, Max Lohrbach, Samantha Rei, and Christopher Straub. 

Getting dressed was my second favorite activity of the evening.  I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to wear my retro tweed and velvet full skirt, and I finally had my chance last night.  I scored this skirt at an estate sale in the Summit Hill neighborhood in St. Paul years ago for the bargain price of $15.  Last night I chose to pair it with gobs of pearls (faux), black satin gloves, geek chick D&G glasses, a wide black belt, and my red t-strap heels.  My retro partner in crime and fellow interior designer, Kasey Reynolds, joined me wearing a little black mod dress, red-toed stacked heel pumps, and a fabulous red patent fold-over clutch. 

Megan Style – For the Love of Fashion

Picture of youthful summer fun. My sister on the left and me on the right.

Before I even knew what a fashion show or stylist was, I was organizing neighborhood summer fashion shows on my patio.  Well, they weren’t exactly fashion shows.  I called them “Miss America” because that’s the only reference to glamour I had in elementary school here in Minnesota.  My shows didn’t have a talent portion, or an interview portion, or any portions other than the Swimsuit and Evening Gown Competitions.  We’d pull out my mom’s old maternity clothes, a hula hoop, and some clothes pins, and voila we’d create a hoop skirt.  Yes, that really happened.  The “judges” would sit on the deck stairs with a view of the patio and the contestants would model their looks one by one until a “winner” was selected.  I’ll cut to the chase and tell you I was always the winner.  You should also know, I was always the oldest.  Not a very fair contest.  However, it wasn’t the winning that really mattered.  It was the fun of escaping reality and creating something new from something old and tired.  Trust me, very old and very tired. 

Now that I’m an adult, I look back at those times and realize I haven’t changed one bit.  I do know what a fashion show is, and I do know what a stylist is.  The clothes aren’t quite so old or quite so tired, but I still love to spend time in my closet and try things on in new combinations.  I have a mannequin (named Monnequin), and an extra rolling rack where I line up my outfits for the week Sunday nights.  I still have the appreciation for expressing myself through what I wear.  It doesn’t matter what things go wrong in life, or what someone may say behind my back, or what success I have, or what failure I have; I’m always at home and at peace in my closet.  It’s the only place I am completely confident.  When people tell me to close my eyes and imagine my happy place, my closet is where I always go.

Student Style – Twelve

Is there a better way to spend a Saturday night than at a fashion show during Minneapolis/St. Paul Fashion week?  I believe the answer is no.  On Saturday February 18th, I joined other local fashion appreciators at Twelve: The 44th Annual Apparel Design Senior Fashion Show featuring the senior class of apparel designers at the University of Minnesota.  What a treat!  I thought two things: one – what an amazing group of talented designers, and two – how on earth do I have a career in the design field with all of the incredible up-and-comers?  They put on a great show. 

My favorites of the featured seniors were: Jennifer Robertus – for her fresh take on Resort Wear, Gabby Goetz – for her playful yet sophisticated designs (with sparkle!), Diana (Dziyana) Zhyhar – for her architectural work wear capable of transformation, Lizzie Hillmann – for her bold use of color and flattering silhouettes, Silvia Guttmann – for her clean and modern athletic inspired garments (and very cool styling), and Sara Lopez – for turning fabric into wearable ethereal art. 

I was pretty hypnotized by the fashions, but managed to capture some shots from the show with my phone.  Enjoy!

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Construction Style

We’ve all seen construction workers on the job and can probably agree style is not the driving force behind their clothing selections.  Steel-toe boots, jeans, T’s, flannel shirts all top the list of practical and warm work wear and make good sense for the job at hand.  What do you do when you’re an Interior Designer though?  A typical day can often consist of a morning meeting with a client, then a trip to the job site in the afternoon. It’s tricky to dress for both.  I refuse to wear man-wear to a job site, but I can’t exactly wear pumps.  So, what do I wear?  Rubber wellies I can tuck my skinny military style pants into, a warm wool coat from Karma, a scarf, and of course my safety gear consisting of hard hat and day-glow vest.  The day-glow trend is really working for me at the moment.  The boots keep me warm, dry, are easy to hose off, and keep the hems of my pants clean.  Just a quick switch of the shoe, and I’m back to the office.  The point is, there is never an excuse to not be well-dressed.

Roller Derby Style – Maulelujah

Derby Style - Violent Femmes

Do you know someone who takes life by storm and puts 110% into everything they do? Think of this person and multiply their gumption by one-hundred and you’ll begin to understand the charismatic energy of North Star Roller Girl, Maulelujah.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the powerful 5’10” blocker for the Violent Femmes to get the inside scoop on her personal style. 

By day, she’s Molly Kennedy Lageson, a Volunteer Resources Specialist at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  By weekend, she’s a music enthusiast, foodie, dive bar goer, and dog lover.  Once a month at the Minneapolis Convention Center, she’s North Star Roller Girl, Maulelujah #47.  Here’s what she had to say about her sense of style on and off her wheels:

SIA: How would you describe your personal style?

M: My clothing unintentionally reflects the eras of music I like. Most can be tied to 50’s pop, 60’s garage bands, and 70’s punk.

SIA: What is your style at work?

M: It’s a combination of sleek traditional business attire with a bit of edginess.  I like to mix in industrial looking jewelry and belts.   Some of my work favorites are: military blazers, skinny jeans, ever-changing hair color, vintage 50’s dresses, black and blue eyeliner smudged together, and dark nail polish.  I also have 10 ear piercings.

SIA: Do you take your style in a different direction on the weekends?

M: Yes! On the weekends I like to keep it simple and comfortable.  My typical weekend uniform is black skinny jeans and a solid color V-neck t-shirt , minimal jewelry, and a hoodie paired with a retro coat.

SIA: On bout day, do you carry over any of your day and weekend styles?

M: No!  I wear sequin hot pants for derby.   I think of my derby style as my alter ego with the hope that it will eventually encourage confidence.  

SIA: Can you give us a breakdown of your signature look for a roller derby bout?

M: I wear:

  • Black sequin hot pants
  • Black opaque footless tights, with or without black and red striped knee highs
  • Violent Femmes jersey with a black or white tank underneath
  • #47 drawn on my arm
  • Red eye shadow
  • Heavy black eyeliner
  • Black skates with red laces and yellow Atom wheels
  • Grey helmet
  • And of course, the pads:
    • Wrist guards
    • Elbow pads
    • Knee pads
    • Mouth guard

SIA: What style advice can you give to other women?

M: Love your body, wear stuff that fits, keep outfits simple by dressing in basics and add personality with jewelry and hats.

SIA:  If you were to be quoted for one style thought, what would it be?

M: “Change your hair frequently, that’s why it grows”.

Molly and her alter ego Maulelujah were kind enough to let me photograph her favorite look for work, her favorite vintage finds (all from Rewind Vintage in Minneapolis), and of course her derby style.  See below for inspiration from one of the baddest girls in town.

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See Maulelujah live at the Violent Femmes bout this Saturday, January 14th, at 7pm at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

For information regarding the North Star Roller Girls and for tickets visit: http://www.northstarrollergirls.com/