Open Mind Fashion
Josie Mills is behind the U.S. based style and fashion website - www.openmindfashion.com Josie believes that fashion can be found anywhere - from the hottest designers to people on the street and from an organic grocers to a bookstore. We love the freshness of her approach and wanted to know more......
How did you first become interested in fashion/style?
As I was growing up, my parents would not buy me the cool thing that everyone else was wearing. They would take me to the theatre, fly me overseas, buy me toys and books and bikes and the little glass animals I collected, but they wouldn't buy me the sandals everyone was wearing or the T-shirt needed for the school photo. I think it could be why I now write a blog on clothes, why I think clothes matter. Clothes help you fit in and stand out. Our first words of greeting to each other are often about clothes ("You look nice today!"), noticing what someone is wearing is a great icebreaker, and talking about clothing provides light relief in the midst of our hectic days. Clothes are a huge part of who we are and part of our era and culture.
What prompted you to start the Open Mind website?
I was first prompted to start a fashion blog after attending a conference of the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) in 2012. So much of the conference focused on social media, partially because of the heavy use of Twitter and the rise of citizen journalism during the conflicts in Egypt.
One speaker at the conference, Vadim Lavusik (a product manager for Facebook) talked of how many bloggers were making the move to using Facebook as their medium. I have a creative writing degree and was eager to expand into the realm of journalism. I'd been obsessed with clothes since elementary school and thought it'd be a fun and easy topic for me to blog on. Just while sitting in Vadim's session, I came up with several topics - from skinny belts to more affordable designer look-alikes at Forever 21 - and decided I wanted to start a fashion blog on Facebook. Posting on Facebook required posting links from a website, so I started one using training I'd had in a brief workshop session I'd attended on using Weebly.com.
Blogging has allowed me to learn how to create my own website, manage photos, and engage readers through social media. I've also made friends around the world through Twitter and Facebook.
Tell us a little about the Open Mind approach......
Can a grown woman wear clothing from a teen store like Alloy, dELiA's, Aeropostale, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, or Love Culture without looking foolish? Of course she can! Sure, these stores carry sequined miniskirts and trendy pieces, but they also carry basics like T-shirts, tanks, and cardigans and typically charge half the cost of stores that cater to a more mature woman. The open mind approach is about being willing to step outside of the norm to find a great deal or a special outfit.
It's about finding a bracelet in a museum gift shop or PJs for her in the men's department. It's about wearing a swimsuit tankini as a summer top and about trying on and buying stylish maternity clothes when you're not pregnant. I love finding clothing and jewellery bargains in unexpected places or making use of pieces for more than one purpose.
The Top 10 Fashion Rules are the steadfast beliefs I hold about style-I hope they represent truths for many women. They are about looking great at any age. I rarely preach or tell people what to do, but I think most women can identify with and benefit from these suggestions.
How can women have fun with their own style?
A dangly pair of earrings, a statement necklace, colourful tights or heels - just a touch of something unexpected can make a woman feel confident, playful, and hip. Just a touch of something trendy but also something that feels "like you" can brighten your day and make you feel modern & attractive.
What are your top tips for someone wanting to find her own unique style?
Ironically, sometimes first imitating the style of someone else can help one find one's own unique style. Who are your favourite actresses? What appeals to you about their style? What pieces do they wear that might suit your body type?
Style role models can be a good place to start, but also know that your role models might have changed as you grew up. When I was in my 20s, my style role model was Katherine Hepburn. Following her lead from the 1940s, my work wardrobe consisted of long tailored pants and delicate blouses. Today that same look is too masculine for me, and I've turned to patterned pencil skirts. I still like the styles of the 1940s and the 1960s, but I now lean toward a more feminine look.
Do you see any differences between U.S. style and U.K. style?
I receive a surprising number of British catalogues: Joules, Wrap London, Poetry, Boden, Sweaty Betty, The White Company, Long Tall Sally (LTS), Boohoo, and Next Direct, and I've ordered from Wrap, Boden, Boohoo, Topshop, and LTS. I also bought my wedding dress at Monsoon in London, and I roam their website and Marks and Spencer regularly. U.K. clothing is known for its quality, and it rarely disappoints.
Certainly Boden, Topshop, and LTS clothes are well made with noticeable fine details, such as decorative linings. The service with all U.K. companies is also exceptional - Wrap London called me personally to let me know that my return had arrived and ask if they could help with any further corrections to the order. I paid for rush delivery on my Topshop order, and it arrived in 2 days - how is that even possible?
Most U.K. stores seem to offer a bit more conservative style than U.S. stores - the skirts may be short but the styles in general show a bit less skin. My British uncle used to use the word "smart" to describe the well-dressed British woman and I'd say indeed she is: she is smartly dressed, well put together; she might be wearing a blazer (perhaps a bit less common in the States); the style is less sloppy than American styles, I think. My favourite U.K. store right now is Topshop - which has some lovely shift dresses and A-line mini-skirts. Their styles are so fun and unique! I own one Topshop skirt and it's very well made. Topshop is available at Nordstrom in the States or online.
What have been your own favourite recent purchases?
I'm on a Zara kick at the moment and trying not to alienate my readers by posting too many items from there. I'm currently wearing a $19.90 yellow-patterned tube skirt and loving it so much - easy, comfy, stretchy non-wrinkle! I also love my Zara floral Tees - they go with everything for any occasion & always feel hip & pretty. I like the edginess/high style of Zara & their quick shipping/easy free returns.
You believe that fashion can be found anywhere - where are some of the most unusual places you have tracked down great items?
Hobby Lobby (boiled wool purses & bags)
Toy store (bracelet)
Coffee shop (beautiful scarf)
Museum gift shop (arm cuff)
Men's department (PJs)
Boys' department (XL or XL Plus gingham shirt)
Could you share your thoughts on some of those wardrobe essentials which can be used in a variety of situations?
The key to an essential piece is that it can be worn year round without anyone saying, "Aren't you hot?" So it's lightweight, and it's also a neutral colour, so it doesn't label itself as related to any particular season.
The material should be all season - ideally ponte knit or cotton or poly - not wool.
If it's a skirt or jacket, it should go with everything and ideally never go out of style.
I'm always looking for these pieces, and I never regret buying them.
Who would you most like to take shopping and why?
I've made so many new friends that I've never met in person through my website, via Twitter and Facebook and I'd love to take them all shopping and enjoy some tea and wine or champagne and pastries along the way! Some of these friends love shopping, and some just enjoy talking about nature and music and cooking and green beauty solutions and humour and kids.
One new friend I'd enjoy visiting and shopping with is Lena Penteado (@PenteadoLena) in Portugal. She's a stylist and a blogger who could teach me about European fashions.