portraits of style: jess, 43
A friend once said "style is personal and political," and I love that concept: dressing for your expression of self, what you stand for, and not for the pleasure of others. Portraits of Style is a new feature, sharing the portraits and interviews of people who are over 40, and who define what it means to be stylish: focusing what happens when they throw away the fashion magazines, and instead choose what they wear based on what makes them feel great and what they want to express. This is style -- on their terms.
This week, I'm featuring my friend, Jess Weiner. If it weren't for Jess, I would never have had the privilege of working with Dove: I met Jess as part of a keynote panel sponsored by Dove, and have worked with her ever since. And while you might not know Jess, you know her work: Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty happened, in large part, because of Jess. Barbie's new body-positive looks are because of her. She's so impressive, Fast Company did this amazing profile of her -- and she is undoubtedly one of the women I most admire in real life, which makes me particularly honoured to call her a friend. And because body positivity and self-confidence are her life's work, I was thrilled when she sat down with me and shared her philosophy around style.
I think my style has evolved, shifted, and changed with my own journey towards confidence and body acceptance. When you learn your body, love your body, and choose to lovingly express it in fashion, it's less about anybody else or what they think. That is a gorgeous feeling of empowerment that I am enjoying way more in my 40's than I did in my 20's.
~ Jess Weiner
KW: You life's work has to do with body image and body confidence for girls and women. Does this work affect your own style choices?
JW: Absolutely. I think my style has evolved, shifted, and changed with my own journey towards confidence and body acceptance. When you learn your body, love your body, and choose to lovingly express it in fashion - things change. It's less about anybody else or what they think and something that is uniquely yours. That is a gorgeous feeling of empowerment that I am enjoying way more in my 40's than I did in my 20's. God bless wisdom and self-love.
KW: Amen, sister. That is totally how I feel about getting older. So when it comes to style, what do you want your own style to express?
JW: I look at my clothing as a costume. An opportunity to portray a part of myself to the world each day. Will it be the sassy version of me? The serious one? The silly one? I don't look at my style as a final version of anything but rather a mood based expression of what's in my heart that day.
KW: I love that. So given this -- clothing as "costume" -- do you have any fashion icons or idols you try to emulate?
JW: I don't know if it's an icon or idol, but rather a location, that inspires me most. Living in California the past 17 years has brought me into a love affair with Boho-chic, or Cali style comfort wear -- I love the boho style of bright colors, patterns, beachy-global vibe - but I love it with a twist. I like to dress up the boho element or incorporate it with my business wear. But most everything I wear goes w/ jeans. And sandals. It is Cali after all.
KW: Ha! Sounds like Texas -- jeans are standard-wear, man. So, is that your throw-down clothing item?
JW: Absolutely -- a great-fitting pair of jeans. I feel invincible in my denim. And a blazer. If I am trying to bring the power to a meeting -- pairing my blazer w/ jeans and a boho top is my signature power outfit.
KW: Nice -- I'm gonna have to get me a "signature power outfit." Do you have a signature colour?
JW: Colors impact moods and that's true for me. I used to have a ton of black in my closet but now I love all bright colors. In moderation. But give me some good jewel tones (deep dark pinks, dark gorgeous blues) and I'm yours.
KW: Noted. So finally, what advice would you give to someone who is unsure about their own style, and wants to create one?
JW: Don't try to create a style, let it evolve and let your life lead you on this -- get inspired by your life and let that lead you to how you express it in your clothing. To me, style is a personal evolution that changes over time. So give yourself permission to evolve with it as you do. And enjoy it, most of all.
Thanks so much for sharing your style thoughts, Jess! To learn more about the amazing Jess and her work, be sure to check out her website (and prepare to have your mind blown).