Ep. 199: Elevating Your Personal Style

By: Cassy Joy
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On today's episode, I'm talking with Laurel Kinney, personal stylist, all about elevating your personal style!  We chat actionable tips on how to curate a wardrobe that celebrates YOU!

We're back with our 199th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 199 Links and Such

Find out more about working with Laurel HERE.

Episode 199 Sponsors and Featured Partners

  • Nutritional Therapy Association – The NTA trains and certifies Nutritional Therapy Practitioners and Consultants with a nutritional foundation that emphasizes the body’s innate intelligence and bio-individuality, because they know that a “one size fits all” approach to nutrition does not exist.  Head HERE to learn more about becoming a NTP/NTC through this incredible program!

Episode 199 transcription

Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And we are back today with a very special interview. The first time I met her, I remember thinking; I cannot wait to invite you on my podcast. But I might wait a second, because I don’t want to weird you out yet. {laughing}

Today we’re talking with Laurel Kinney. I’m going to tell you a little bit about her, and then let her introduce herself a little bit more. Laurel believes that your personal style; yes, we’re talking personal style today. Is the unique ingredient that lets the world know who you are. And for her, there is no better feeling than helping you discover the wardrobe that makes you feel the most you.

Her background is in social work, and she uses a psychological approach to styling that’s different than what you see on those makeover shows. There’s no ridicule or judgement as we process where you're at style-wise and help you meet your goals. Laurel assess you as an individual, taking into account your body type, your budget, how you like to spend your time. She believes that fashion should support you; be an enjoyable, creative outlet that makes you feel confident. And the process of shopping for a wardrobe you love shouldn’t be a rule filled pain, but a fun and easy endeavor with positive results.

Oh my gosh, you’re talking to my soul! Welcome to the show, Laurel!

Laurel Kinney: Thank you for having me! I’m so excited.

Cassy Joy: I’m so excited too. Just to tell you guys a little bit of background; how Laurel and I first met is I was; gosh, I don’t know, maybe 6 months, 7 months postpartum. And I was in that stage where I was tired of the stretchy pants. And I was tired of staring at a closet full of clothes that either didn’t fit me, or just didn’t feel like me anymore. Because it was pre-baby stuff. It was all of that prematernity clothes. It just felt like it was haunting me. So I was desperate. I reached out for help.

I found you on Instagram, and then found your website, and loved all of it. I loved your personal style, but really what you’re about. She happens to be somewhat local to me; but she travels all over the nation. She is a renowned speaker. And I just really value your opinion and all the things that you did for me.

She came into my closet; and like I said, there was no judgement. She went through everything in my closet. Helped me weed it all out, and then come up with a new plan. I’m just so excited to share some of your wisdom with folks today. But tell us a little bit about you. I’d love to know; how did you become a personal stylist? What was that journey like?

Laurel Kinney: Well, it was fraught with lots of frustration in the beginning. Like; is this going to work? I mean, like all small business owners, there’s a good amount of anxiety and fear in the beginning. Sort of like that imposter syndrome where you’re like; ok, today I am this. And yesterday I was that! Ok, I guess you’ve got to start somewhere. {laughs}

I was a disgruntled social worker, and I had a lot of time in the car driving to different patients’ homes, and facilities. I was working in hospice, so it was a pretty emotional job. And I just was really craving something that was more creative, but that still allowed me to connect with people in a fairly intimate way. I started styling under a mentor, and immediately was hooked. Because I could see how, especially in the south, the clothes could be this really interesting conduit for talking about how you feel in a way that is a little less scary than going to a therapist. {laughs}

And it’s sort of this; it’s a cool way to get to know people and the process that I use I’ve discovered that it really works. So it’s fun to see people, to figure out how to transition their lives through the clothes that they’re wearing.

Cassy Joy: It really; people joke about retail therapy, but it’s like wardrobe therapy. It’s different. It’s not about going and buying things. It’s like going through the process, like you were saying, connecting with somebody and what you wear is how you feel, especially where I’m at in the country. But it is; it’s a real thing.

I remember after our first session, and you kind of helped me come up with an idea. Because I had no idea how to dress my body after my body had changed. Or I didn’t feel like I had my body…

Laurel Kinney: Yeah, a new identity. It’s all tied to your identity too; and if you have a child now, you have this new identity as a mom as well as all the other things that you were before, and still are, too.

Cassy Joy: Yes, exactly. And I knew I wanted to build this big business. And it was part of our conversation; even that involved. You said; you don’t want to be showing up to the office, even if it’s at your house, {laughs} when your team comes over. Do you want to be rolling out in; essentially what I’m wearing, exactly, today. Laurel and I are on video chat. Old sweatshirt and old stretchy pants.

Laurel Kinney: Keeping it comfortable today, girl.

Cassy Joy: I am. My grand plan is that I’m going to workout after this. But it was; it was therapy. And it really helped me feel like; yes! I’m clicked into the right tracks. What are some questions folks listening can ask themselves that might help them determine their personal style? Because I think about Carrie Bradshaw; right? She had style. It wasn’t about fashion. She had style. Someone listening that might think; I don’t know, what is my style?

Laurel Kinney: Well I always ask people to start with; who are you? And to take it away from the clothes for a second. Because the clothes are just, that comes after you kind of have to figure out what it is that you want to express through your presence. And who are you, what’s important to you to convey. What are some of your values?

I really like to ask my clients to describe a time that they felt really alive and free and focused in on something they were passionate about, and maybe think about what they were wearing then. Because I really think that good style is when you're expressing more than one facet of yourself at once. And giving everyone that’s around and exposed to you a sense of your dynamic personality, whatever that may be.

Like, I’m today wearing this tie-dyed T-shirt that makes me feel like my inner hippie is coming through loud and clear. But I’m putting it with white jeans and sneakers to kind of give it a different vibe. {laughs} I don’t know if it’s working or not, but I definitely feel like myself.

Cassy Joy: I love that. I have this image; because if you think about a time where you felt most alive. I, for better or worse, that’s in a business meeting. {laughs} I imagine a blazer; we talked about this. But I imagine a blazer, really well-fitting pants. Some slacks, and some high heels. But at the end of the day, that’s almost, to your point, that’s one dynamic. That’s one piece of you. That’s just the business side. And after working with you, my business outfits really are more of a blend. They have a really fun, earring with the blazer and some jeans that I can kick my shoes off when I get home and chase my daughter around. It’s like you’re saying; it’s more dynamic and that’s even better style.

Laurel Kinney: And you have to think about what you’re really comfortable in, too. And what you’re doing that day. You’re probably not going to wear a tight-fitting pencil skirt if you’re going from a business meeting to go pick up your toddler. So it’s cool to think about ways you can still exude all of those facets, but still be comfortable and do the things that you need to do without feeling too precious about what you're wearing all the time.

Cassy Joy: I love that. That’s so helpful. How do you recommend finding clothes that make you feel good? And I think that was one of my biggest questions. I assume you would get that a lot from a lot of your clients.

Laurel Kinney: Well, I think it’s about trial and error. And I always tell people too that good style is usually the result of a lot of thinking about it and trying and experimenting and not taking things too seriously. So you probably wouldn’t discover that you were really comfortable in silk jogger pants unless you were like; oh, maybe I’ll try this weird combination of things.

And just having an open mind and exploring Pinterest if you get stuck on ideas, and you kind of have a seed of an idea, and you can type that in and see what happens. But clothes that feel good are going to be different for everyone, and I think it’s a combination of paying attention to your actual real life, and the kinds of things that you have historically worn a lot. And then trying to think of as many different ways to sort of exude or use that same kind of formula over and over again. Because I think that makes; finding your formula makes your life easier, once you can kind of tune in on the things you know are really comfortable and work well for you.

Cassy Joy: Totally. I mean, I think that a silhouette is what I have in mind of what I learned works for me, after working with you. Kind of that format.

Do you have an advice on putting together a minimal wardrobe? Capsule wardrobes are very hot. And that’s something that I know you are very careful about saying; here’s a shirt, and these are the 10 ways you can wear it. What is your advice if someone is sitting there thinking; ok, but I need to minimize without just going out and buying more stuff.

Laurel Kinney: Totally. Well, it’s funny because I just came back from doing a talk at Amazon all about how to create a capsule wardrobe. {laughs} So it’s fresh in my mind. I really think that to start, you begin by kind of picking out; and this is what I ask when I do a client capsule in person, I ask people to prepare by picking out their three most favorite, most worn outfits. And the things they have on heavy rotation, so I can get a sense for what you're already comfortable waring, and then you can pare down the rest of your closet to sort of mix and match with those three main outfits. Or you can figure out some themes that then help you fill in the gaps.

So if you're looking at those three outfits, and you're saying; oh. All three of these involve me, for instance, defining my waist somehow. It’s a fitted crop jacket over something flowy. Or it’s like, a higher waisted pant with a shirt tucked in. Or it’s a fit and flare dress. All of these things involve the waist. So then you build your capsule, not with random things but with thoughtfully chosen versatile pieces that can all sort of cohesively define your waist.

And I think that it helps to sort of think in a limited color palette, too. Like, mostly neutrals are going to be more versatile than others, but I’ve seen a lot of amazing capsules that are just like; turquoise, orange, and then, you know, gray and blush. And you can really; if you limit your color palette, you get a lot more combinations of things. But I think starting with figuring out your favorite silhouettes, and the features of your top worn outfits. And then trying to replicate those for all the different things you need to get dressed for. Casual, and dressier items can kind of be mixed and matched within that silhouette.

Cassy Joy: That’s so exciting. That’s really good advice. How do you recommend mixing and matching items, whether it’s colors or prints or textures to create unique styles?

Laurel Kinney: Well, I think for me, I really love playing with monochrome and playing with a bunch of different shades of the same color. I think that’s a really fun, kind of modern way to sort of simplify things and get new ideas that feels modern, even though it’s; people have been doing this forever. I call it leader chic.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Laurel Kinney: But I think to simplify that, you could kind of think in contrast. So if you’re wearing denim, then putting that with something a little more upscale; maybe silky or shiny with denim can be a cool contrast. Or a knit with something like leather or a super textured pattern thing with something that’s more sleek and minimal. Jut creating a contrast, and searching for the opposite when you're wondering what to wear with something. I think that usually gives you some cool options.

But just to play is really the solution to finding more outfits. Play in your mirror; trying random things on with other random things and see what happens. Because there’s not really a rule out there for you as far as that goes. What makes you happy

Cassy Joy: Today’s show is brought to you by the Nutritional Therapy Association! The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants with a nutritional foundation that emphasizes the body’s innate intelligence and bioindividuality. Because they know that a one-size fits all approach to nutrition does not exist.

The NTA curriculum focuses on the importance of properly prepared, nutrient-dense whole foods, paired with a well balanced lifestyle. Sound familiar? I love this program so much. Throughout their program, students learn a wide range of educational tools and techniques to identify and correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. And students graduate with the education and skills needed to launch a successful career in holistic nutrition.

May enrollment for the NTA’s nutritional therapy practitioner program, or their fully online nutritional therapy consultant program, is currently open through April 26. You can head to www.NutritionalTherapy.com to get more info. The NTA’s annual conference, Roots, is also happening March 1st through the 3rd in Portland, Oregon. I’ve attended in the past, and can honestly say it was one of the most educational and inspirational nutrition conferences I have ever been to. No joke. You can go to the NutritionalTherapyConference.com to register. You do not have to be an NTP to go; all are welcome.

Cassy Joy: Absolutely. And I got to this point; my closet was just slammed with too much stuff. Too many options.

Laurel Kinney: You can’t see your options in there. It was hard to know what was gong on.

Cassy Joy: Exactly. And that was part of the reason why I loved the process that we worked on together. It involved first getting out; thinning it out. The stuff that I wore last year. Anyways; what I was left with in the closet were these fewer items, and I got to play more. And it felt like I finally understood. I would have never remembered the pink tulle skirt and the black and white striped sweater. {laughs}

Laurel Kinney: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: The mail man might be here. Get him Sam!

Laurel Kinney: If anyone knows me from Instagram, you know Sam and Penny. And they’re very vocal. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs} I love it. I don’t even want to edit it out.

Laurel Kinney: It’s real life.

Cassy Joy: It is real life. Oh my gosh, I love it. But yeah, playing. When you know what you have in your closet, it almost gives you that freedom to play with it even more.

Laurel Kinney: Yeah. I think just even mixing the things up in your closet can sometimes lead you to new combinations, just because you see; oh, that’s next to that. I could maybe wear that.

Cassy Joy: That’s a good tip. Almost like; what if I put the shirts over here.

Laurel Kinney: It might inspire, yeah.

Cassy Joy: I like that a lot. Ok, well speaking of rules. And this is something you bring up a lot. But are there any clothing rules, in your opinion, that do work for most people?

Laurel Kinney: You know, I’m kind of an anti-rule person. I like people to make up their own rules. Because I think for some, rules make life easier. And I think when you're drawn to a capsule wardrobe, you're kind of someone that’s craving some kind of structure and a solution to the confusion you can sometimes have in your closet. But as far as how people should or shouldn’t dress, that’s something I’m hesitant to say anything blanket. Because there are always exceptions. You can go on the internet and find 1000 people who hate wide-legged pants, and others that are like; they’re the best thing ever.

So it’s really; the main rule is to trust your gut instinct when you first put something on and just notice how it makes you feel, and to listen to that. Don’t listen to the lady who is trying to sell it to you. Don’t listen to your sister who doesn’t want to upset you. Listen to your gut reaction, because that’s usually the right reaction.

And as far as body rules, or anything like that; I mean, there really isn’t any real rule, I don’t think. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: I love that.

Laurel Kinney: It doesn’t help anyone, but {laughs}. It would be easier if there were.

Cassy Joy: It would be easier if there were, but it’s almost more freeing. I want everyone to be able and be like; you know what? Tulle and stripes. That’s what it is today.

Laurel Kinney: Yes. That’s your rule for fun, and for other people, it’s like; jeans and a T-shirt is always going to be their favorite thing to wear. And that can be their rule, too. Rule it up!

Cassy Joy: {laughs} If you had to recommend one outfit that every woman needs to have on hand in her closet, what would it be?

Laurel Kinney: Oh, well, that’s a little rule-y. {laughing}

Cassy Joy: It’s trying to get it out.

Laurel Kinney: I know! I think most of my clients; everyone really loves having a pair of jeans that makes them feel super confident about their booty, and their hips. And just makes them feel; I can put this on no matter how I’m feeling, whatever day of the week, and you know that it looks awesome on you. I think everybody needs something in their closet, if it’s not jeans, something. But usually jeans and a really good, kind of third piece. Like a jacket or something they can throw onto an outfit that’s more casual that kind of brings it some polish. So a polished third piece and a pair of really amazing jeans. I think everybody should feel pretty happy to have those two things.

Cassy Joy: That’s great. Amber Golden, who works here at Fed and Fit, said something like, we were joking about swim suits the other day and a feature that we were thinking about putting into the content calendar. And she was like; she loves budget stuff and brainstorming all those things is very important to her. She’s very passionate about it. But she says; you should spend money on jeans, bras, and swim suits.

Laurel Kinney: Yes!

Cassy Joy: The things that really add up to confidence.

Laurel Kinney: Pay for in those areas; and structure is important, and usually a higher quality piece is going to bring you more of that structure. But also, you wear the sh*t out of those things, too. I mean, oops, bleep!

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Laurel Kinney: {laughing} You wear them a lot, especially in Texas. I mean, you wear your bathing suit for like 7 or 8 months. So make it good. Jeans too. Usually, the fit and the flattering quality and the construction is going to increase as the price does, too. Those are valuable items to spend money on. I think tops and accessories; certain accessories. Anything trendy, I would say let’s not spend as much on those so you can invest in the real staples.

Cassy Joy: I like that a lot, because if I look; thinking back when we were going through my blue jean section, for example, how many $20 pair of blue jeans did I rack up trying to find. You know; how many blue jean frogs did I kiss trying to find the one pair of blue jeans that really worked for me, and I didn’t find them. And eventually…

Laurel Kinney: I see that all the time. It’s such a waste of money, you could have just had one good pair instead of all these other eh pairs.

Cassy Joy: Exactly.

Laurel Kinney: But everybody does that. It’s like; I see that a lot in people that kind of shop for fun. It’s like, you're always kind of looking for that perfect version of something. But you don’t want the fun to end, so you don’t just go and buy the expensive one. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: OH my gosh. I think you just described me perfectly.

Laurel Kinney: Yeah. It happens.

Cassy Joy: That’s so funny. That’s hilarious. Ok, what do you think about fashion cycles coming back around? I think about this a lot. Do you think they are on a cycle, and they’re going to come back around? I think about the high-waisted jeans right now, how cute and popular those are. I’m like; is my daughter, Grayson, going to look at pictures of us like we did of our parents and say; oh my gosh, I cannot believe y’all wore this.

Laurel Kinney: I’m kind of hoping like, thong exposing jeans don’t come back around, but they may. I feel like it’s on a 30-year cycle or something. The 90s came back as soon as the people from the 90s were like; literally, my style is kind of morphing into the way it was when I was 17 again, just because that’s what’s out there.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Laurel Kinney: Bizzaro, but I love that fashion has so many distinct decades. And you can modernize any of those any time you want. But I think; yeah. That’s the fun of fashion. It always comes back around, but a little different. With a little twist to it. Like the 70s mixed with the 90s mixed with the 40s is always fun. You can’t run out of ideas.

Cassy Joy: That’s true. That’s a really good point. Because we have; what would you say are the leading trends right now?

Laurel Kinney: I think the 90s are happening hard core. {laughs} And then you see the mini trend cycles. There’s always camo is popular. Or a military jacket. Or right now I see a lot of the cute androgynous sort of style for women, like plaid pants and the paperback waist pants; kind of newsy vibes. But again, that movie came out in the 90s, so it’s like the 90s version of what was that? The 1900s? {laughing} It’s a mish-mash man. I don’t know.

Cassy Joy: That’s so interesting. Ok, so really pressing question; do you think that mules and slides are going to slide out of fashion any time soon? Because I still want a pair of those.

Laurel Kinney: I don’t see that happening at least for another season. Because right now, it’s just, the mule still seems like it goes with all of the pants they’re giving us. And clogs are pretty classic at this point. I think you can always feel; if it’s your vibe, you can always pull off a clog. Like, that’s timeless.

Cassy Joy: That’s true.

Laurel Kinney: And I feel like the mules are getting a little more timeless, as well. In terms of they’re sleek, and they’re pretty mainstream, so you can find a bunch of different options within that. So, we are getting you in some mules, girl. Let’s do it. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Totally turned this into a personal consult for the last couple of minutes. {laughs}

Laurel Kinney: That’s cool. People want to know what you’re going to be wearing.

Cassy Joy: Yes. What mule? Is it ok to pull the trigger on it, or did I miss it? Ok. Do you have any parting words of wisdom for our listeners with regard to personal style and fashion and getting out there? Just giving yourself permission to press the makeover button?

Laurel Kinney: Yeah. I think that one easy thing you can do to sort of make yourself feel a little more inspired and feel good and kind of test the waters in terms of; is anyone going to even notice if I start dressing differently? What’s that going to feel like? Because that’s nerve wracking, I think, for people.

Go through your closet and pick out not the things you wear the most but that you love the most. And just be ruthless in your decision making. Go with your gut instinct. I love this; I love this. I love this. And then try to make an outfit each day of the week with at least one item that you love. And see what you come up with. It could be that you love all sequined things. Or it could be that you love all stretchy, cozy things. But see what things you actually love, and then try to integrate them and observe how your day unfolds wearing that piece that you love. Not just the comfortable piece that you wear every day because it’s the first clean thing that you find.

Cassy Joy: That’s great advice. Laurel, thank you so much. This has been so fun to chat with you. We’ll probably be hearing more from Laurel also on the website; y’all might be seeing a trend of my favorite subject matter experts making an appearance on the website when we relaunch this summer. Could you tell folks how they can connect with you and find you and your work?

Laurel Kinney: Yes. I am at Laurel_Kinney on Instagram. And I’m Instagram a lot, y’all. And I’m also at LaurelKinney.com. and I have a new virtual workshop that I’m about to launch, in the next few weeks, actually. And it’s StyleShiftWorkshop.com is where you can find information on that. It’s going to be really fun.

Cassy Joy: Oh, that’s so exciting. We will link up to all of this. So if you’re driving and you couldn’t jot it down, don’t worry we’ll have it all linked up in the show notes.

Laurel Kinney: Yeah, don’t jot and drive.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Don’t jot and drive. Sage advice. Laurel, thank you so much for coming onto the show today. It has been so much fun. Everybody, thank you so much for listening. As always, you can find a full transcript over at www.FedandFit.com. And we’ll be back again next week.

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