If I spotted the eclectically elegant 17-year-old Californian, Natalie Liao, strolling down the streets of my neighborhood, I might be tempted to snatch one of her signature hats right off her head. With posts filled with extreme hemlines (both long and short), sweet touches of leopard, and more than a few pairs of awesome clogs who wouldn’t want to raid her closet? Liao, the gal behind May’s Style Icon TheVagabond, took a break from her final projects for school to dish about the importance of a well-hatted head, the key to rocking summer’s maxi trend and how to deal with the perils that inevitably accompany summer breezes and short skirts.
Q:First of all, as you are a newly minted Style Icon I think it’s only appropriate that we know where you go for your inspiration. Who are your style icons?
Q:You mentioned in your “I Long To Stroll Down Cobble-Stoned Streets” post that you belted and oversize thrifted skirt to make it fit. How important is size to you when thrift shopping and in what other ways do you make an ill-fitting piece work?
A:A lot of times, it’s hard to find fitting bottom pieces at thrift stores considering the fact that I am quite small. But when I come across amazing pieces that are out of this world unique, I will buy it even if it means that I would have to compromise the means of it fitting. Size is not as important to me when I am thrift-shopping because I know that the majority of the clothes will be a little bigger on me. To make things fit, I often accessorize with belts or alter certain pieces accordingly.
Q:Hats are a major trend this spring and summer, but it seems you’ve been on the hat bandwagon since at least last summer. You have a knack for making even the most retro hats look casual instead of costume-y. What tips do you have for chictopians (including myself) who are looking to tackle this trend for the first time?
A:I think I have seriously defined myself as a hat lady. Hats can pull together any kind of outfit in my opinion, especially black brimmed hats, because black goes with everything and anything. Some tips to keep in mind when channeling hats are to keep the style clean and simple to tone down a “busy” outfit.
Q:Many of your posts include dramatic, floor-grazing hemlines perfectly in step with spring’s maxi dress trend. What is your go-to way of styling this look?
A:I love pairing cropped tops with maxi skirts to counter the skirt’s length. I’m all about proportions when it comes to outfits.
Q:You’ve complained on your blog about receiving catcalls from passersby on the street. Does this ever discourage you from rocking heels and a skirt-why or why not? How do you respond to such behavior?
A:Although, it often annoys me, I do not let those incidents affect me and what I wear. I am confident with wearing whatever I think suits me and my style.
Q:Before I step out the door every morning a list of every possible wardrobe malfunction runs through my head-broken heel, skirt flying up, buttons popping off. Can you describe your worst wardrobe malfunction (if it’s not too painful to recollect,that is)?
A:It would definitely have to be my round of Marilyn Monroe-esque upskirt flashes. The day was windy and I had not taken that into account when I was picking out my outfit for the day. I spent the entire day trying to not let any upskirt action sneak up on me.
Q:You show a lot of versatility with some pieces that keep popping up in your posts: that rustic braided leather belt, those ‘70s inspired lace-up camel leather shorts, and those sweet D.I.Y. rolled up suede shorts. What should chictopians think about when it comes to reusing pieces in different outfits?
A:I love my old vintage belt, mainly because it ties a lot of my outfits together with its neutral chocolate hue. Now that I think about it, all three pieces you mentioned are a different shade of brown. Brown is an amazing color to work with because of its versatility. One thing to keep in mind when reusing pieces in different outfits is to incorporate different colors from previous outfits.
Q:What are you doing to reach your goal of becoming a designer? Do you ever make your own clothes?
A:I guess I would say by expressing my style through my blog, because each designer has his or her own unique style. And yes, I do make my own pieces sometimes. I am looking forward to a lot of DIY projects this summer when I actually have the free time!
Q:Your “About Me” also mentions you want to be an artist. What kind of art do you do?
A:I like to draw and paint when I can. I am also really crafty and really into making collages, putting together mood-boards, and basically anything that is artsy.
Q:I’m wondering if your art ever inspires your outfits or if your outfits ever inspire your art.
A:Yes, sometimes the colors in my art work inspire the color palettes of my outfits and vice versa.
Q:Best color combo?
A:I’m a sucker when it comes to pretty color palettes! I especially love soft, pale and pastel-y color palettes. I also love mixing different patterns and adding softness to hard edges as well as mixing a lot of neutrals.
Q:Musician or band with the most inspiring fashion sense?
Q:Last thing you bought?
A:Clothing wise, I bought a grey knit/wool jacket on sale from Urban Outfitters.
Q:Best deal you ever scored?
A:The last best deal I’ve scored was a Ralph Lauren cream blazer for $10 at a local charity shop. Gotta love the old women who donate their clothes there, haha.
Q:Heels or flats?
A:Definitely heels, especially chunky ones.
Q:Warm weather go-to outfit?
A loose flowy dress, wedges, straw brimmed sun hat, circle sunglasses, wrist clutch bag, and stacks of gold bangles.
Thanks to the forever sweet Natalie Liao for a peek into her fashionable life!
Want to know more about this chictopian? Check out her blog, LaVagabondDame .