How I Paired Stories from My Childhood With My Brand’s Mission of Women’s Empowerment To Style My First Mannequin for Neiman Marcus
I am very excited to share the latest event that I’m part of this week in partnership with Neiman Marcus San Antonio. The Cusp department at NM invited four local bloggers into the store to style our own mannequins as part of an influencer style contest: the Cusp Mannequin Challenge.
I spent an afternoon working in the store pulling together my favorite extra-chic items fresh off the rack for my mannequin. Since my personal style is a mix of classic sophistication and contemporary statements, it was quite the fulfilling challenge to step slightly outside of my comfort zone and lean fully into a fun, femme, and bold fashionista tom-girl look that not only has personal significance and tells stories of my own life, but that also has significance to the mission of this site: to encourage and empower women to create the lives they want to lead.
The look came together around this pair of 7 jeans. I went into this challenge thinking I was going to style an office/cocktail-chic look, but the second I saw this pair of relaxed-fit distressed jeans emblazoned with blush colored feminine flowers, my gut fired. These jeans embodied the tom-boy part of me that I embraced and owned, unapologetically and confidently, as a little girl.
I went through a phase between 8-10 years old of shopping almost only in the boys department of the GAP. My favorite thing in my closet at the time was my pair of boys’ carpenter blue jeans that I would style with a simple white tee and a pink hair kerchief that had a couple of rhinestones on it. I think it was my way of expressing strength and courage, and the kerchief was my little symbol of sparkly girliness. I would come home from ballet class, jump into my boyish play clothes and join my brothers outside in playing basketball or lacrosse. To me, these 7 jeans send the message loud and clear that strong and feminine do mix. You can have grit + grace.
After the pants came the blouse. I wanted something clean, classic and understated to compliment the louder pants. I grabbed this Frame blouse because I am drawn to both the bell-sleeve and ruffle trends of the season. The sleeves brought a hint of drama to the overall understated and simplistic cut. I also loved the length of the top and where it hit the waist of the pants–you can half-tuck it perfectly. Because of the relaxed fit of the boyfriend style jeans, I didn’t add a belt. The half-tucked blouse matches the fit of the pants, and also half-covers the empty belt loops.
Personally, I felt this blouse reflected the ‘classic sophistication’ side to my own style. For some reason it fondly reminded me of the long-sleeved version of the uniform blouse I wore for 12 years growing up in school. We had very classically cute sailor-looking uniforms that I would, to this day, absolutely wear in public. The bell sleeves are more dramatic, but the piece still tapped into those warm childhood memories for me. Always appreciate where you come from, what made you who you are, and draw your authenticity from those unique life experiences. Your upbringing doesn’t have to define you, but it sure can inform your individuality.
After the blouse and pants came the bomber jacket. It was something I grabbed right away in my first circle through the Cusp racks. I was drawn to its blend of black and pink together. The colors are a bolder palette of neutrals, and the pinks in the jacket compliment the blush-toned flowers on the jeans. The embroidered flowers on the silky jacket fabric are a letter jacket for femininity. As they say, the future is female–so we should wear our ‘letters’ proudly. #girlpower
This jacket reminded me of the many years I spent pouring my mind, body and soul into ballet. The black leotard, the pink tights, the pink slippers…yes the colors associated with the activity match the jacket, but the bomber itself represents the rugged and rough nature of ballet as a sport. It hurt, it was hard on you, it was frustrating. But when you put on your tutu and stepped out on stage to gracefully paint a choreographed picture to the most classic and iconic musical works of our Western world, you were a dainty flower. You cannot get the grace without the grit.
The final touches of this look are, of course, the über-girly accessories. I kept with the blush motif when choosing a purse, shoes, and sunglasses. This Tory Burch bag has elements to it that reminded me of classic Chanel: the quilting with the chainlink handles. The Gucci mules are consistent with the juxtapositional theme we’re seeing everywhere of a classic staple with a contemporary edge, and the Marc Jacobs disco-darling sunnies added the final pop of fun-loving I was looking for to finish off my girl.
I drew inspiration from the loud, spotlight-seeking side of me while selecting the accessories. These days, center-stage Ellie has faded a bit and is seen only by those closest to me during special occasions. Every once in a while that character makes its way into my everyday life, just like the over-the-top, bold (and often old) characters I used to play on stage in my theater days. I channeled those women while picking these items.
And, VOILÁ! Here is my mannequin! She’s out now in the store:
One final thank you to Jackie at the Chantecaille beauty counter at Neiman Marcus for creating the Parisian-chic makeup look I was envisioning to compliment my polka dots for these pictures!
What’s on my Mannequin:
Juanita Floral-Embroidered Bomber Jacket, by Joie
Tie-Cuff Poplin Blouse, by Frame
Josefina Embroidered Botanical Relaxed Jeans, by 7 For All Mankind
Princetown Leather Horsebit Mule, by Gucci
Fleming Quilted Convertible Shoulder Bag, by Tory Burch
Round Metal Twist Sunglasses, by Marc Jacobs
What’s on Me:
Polka Dotted Caftan by Carla Christoph (mine is old, similar here)
Tailored blazer with polka dot bell sleeves by Renato Nucci (vintage, similar here)
Laney Black Suede Pumps by Joe’s Jeans
Earrings by Mariquita Masterson (mine are old, similar here)
Pyrite Ring by Cassandra Collections (see her collection here)
Be sure to go into Neiman Marcus San Antonio this week and vote for your favorite influencer mannequin in person, and shop these items! You can also vote by following me on IG @oh_eleanora, and liking the picture of my mannequin.
Happy shopping, and thank you in advance for the support!