Avant Garb: Whimsy & Finesse

Avant Garb: Whimsy & Finesse

by Elizabeth Massing

On my way to lunch this week, I was passing by the Engineer’s Club in Mount Vernon when I ran into Devonshire. It was the pink hair that caught my attention, but her outfit piqued my interest too. I felt that she was a free soul and wasn’t afraid to go against the grain. 

Her outfit was whimsical and felt young at heart. She had no fear when it came to incorporating patterns and color…. something I can appreciate. Her fashion choices felt bold and unique, so I asked her to tell me a bit more about her personal style.
“I know this is such a cliché thing to say, but it all depends on my mood. I try not to conform to any particular style, that way I can dress however I feel without any sort of barriers in place…There are days when I prefer to channel my inner 1950s; pencil skirt, kitten heels, red lips & pin-up curls. Other days, I might be feeling feisty so I’ll throw on a leather jacket, some chucks, distressed skinnies, and put my hair up in a faux hawk. There are times where I’ll want to be polished with that sharp blazer and bun, or down-to-earth with a flowy earthy-toned dress and beach waves. There are no real rules except to feel good.”
It turns out she is a graphic designer, so this is totally on point. You can tell she likes to mix and match colors and incorporate patterns, and I’m sure this is somewhat influenced by her design background.
Devon describes herself as a “huge thrifter.” In fact, most of her outfit is made up of pieces that she thrifted. Her leather cowboy booties…
…and her elephant printed dress are both from Goodwill.
And her gold Moroccan earrings are from Francesca’s.
Overall, her looks are perfect for the office, coffee shop, and anything in between. Most of all, I love that it’s so honest and rings true to her personality and her creative passions. You can tell she’s having fun, and she’s not afraid to stand out. She’s anything but boring, and that’s something we can all appreciate.
Later in the week, I ran into Courtney in the lobby of the Hotel Revival before meeting a friend for lunch. For starters, I loved that her hair was perfectly styled… yet it somehow looked effortless. It turns out her secret is Batisse Blonde Dry Shampoo. Courtney also shared with me that she’s a local event planner, which means she needs to look presentable and polished, but she’s also constantly on the run, so comfort is a huge factor in her fashion choices.
“I usually say that I have two speeds of clothing options: Workout or Wedding,” she told me.
“If I could live in yoga pants and comfy sweaters, I absolutely would. But that’s not always an option, so when I need to dress like a normal human I tend to gravitate towards more basic pieces and colors. There is A LOT of black in my closet followed by tans, whites and creams. You’ll usually find me in flats because I love to walk anywhere that I can and I like for my feet to not be in pain. I love to shop on Amazon (clearly) and LOVE to find a good dupe of the more expensive trendy items.”
“My belt, for example, looks like the Gucci belt that is on trend now but instead of paying $450, it only cost me $30. I don’t like to pay too much money for a trend that’s probably going out of style in 4-5 months from now. I have a few Instagram influencers that I follow to try and get some outfit inspo from and then try to look for cheaper versions on Amazon.”
One piece that I adored and immediately caught my attention was her suede tan nap sack. So cute and stylish. Courtney said she snagged this piece off of Amazon for only $40. Hard to believe!
Her gold earrings, crescent moon necklace…
…and gold rings are all from Uncommon James, an online jewelry store. The jewelry is well designed and modern, yet it’s affordable and high quality. The ring stack on her right hand is something she picked up from Aldo.
Her white jeans are Just Black from StitchFix, and her shoes are by Chinese Laundry.
Overall, I love Courtney’s look because it’s chic, polished and feels classic yet modern. It’s simple and clean, and leaves you with the impression that she’s successful, yet fun. She’s willing to let her hair down (dry shampoo and all). I would say she’s a prime example of the modern working girl who understands good style on a budget.
FOUND – This week, I wanted to talk about turning fashion into decor. A few months ago, I was shopping at Savers, one of my favorite spot for good deals on amazing vintage and designer finds. It’s hard work and can take a lot of sifting to find keepers, but it’s worth it. One day, I came across this delicate, feminine vantage scarf that totally spoke to me. I found it so beautiful, that I felt like it needed to be on display.
So, I purchased it for only $7, and took it over to Art Plaza in Mount Vernon to get framed. John, one of the framers, has an eye for picking out the finest mattes and frames that will perfectly highlight any piece of art. What someone else discarded now hangs proudly in my office as a work of art. I get tons of compliments on it.
So… next time you come across a beautiful piece of clothing…. don’t be afraid to get a little creative and think about how else you can repurpose it.
Elizabeth Massing

One look at Elizabeth Massing and you see her fabulous sense of style and artistic self-expression. She combines old and new, classic and trendy, luxurious items and vintage steals.  “Fashion and what you wear should be a statement of who you are and how you feel. You shouldn’t be scared to take risks. It should be fun and make you feel good, no matter your budget or fashion experience,” she says. For Elizabeth, fashion is a way to tell her story.  “I like my stories full of fun and excitement, history and romance, and - from time to time - a little drama. Bold fabrics give me a thrill. Couture makes me swoon. Daring pairings are a magnetic force I cannot overcome,” says this B-more native. Elizabeth also loves to see the “stories” other people tell, which may come from her work in publishing and media as HR Director for The Agora Companies, where - she says - creativity and originality is always encouraged. Now, she’ll be relaying some of those stories to us in her column, “The Haute Find.”  “It’s about finding style on the street, in homes, and out-and-about. It’s an adventure looking for textures, fabrics, and how people add layers of details and interest to their wardrobe.” So, ramp it up, Baltimore. Maybe Elizabeth will be “telling” your story!