Woman in Clothes: Q & A with Chicago Stylist Mel Holmes
I’m super pumped to feature the mega talented Mel Holmes today on SCM! Mel is a Chicago-based stylist and founder of the book club, What Women Read (March pick: The Power, by Naomi Alderman, if you wanna join in the fun). I asked her some questions about getting dressed and feeling good. Mel’s responses reflect a real attention to balance. Her approach to style is light-hearted and fun. She’s serious about things like kindness, self-care, and good tailoring. She’s got a playful energy but takes care to be reflective and intentional in her day-to-day.
I think she’s a complete delight. Read on, mom!
What do you admire about how other women present themselves?
Women are such beautiful creatures… we are individually so complex while simultaneously so simple. I most admire and am most attracted to the spirit of a woman. Working in fashion and being surrounded by beautiful things and the ever-changing trends you quickly see how little it can matter. A woman who has a kind, grateful spirit and presents herself to the world with grace and inclusion is what I most admire and hope to emulate.
When do you feel at your most attractive?
When I am strong. Whether I have conquered a workout I was dredging or stood up against something I believed in.
Also, anytime I get ready in a hotel bathroom…HA! Not sure if it’s the unreasonable/irresponsible number of towels I used or that I don’t have to laundry them myself but I love taking my sweet time getting ready on vaca.
Are there any clothing (or related) items that you have in multiple?
I have possibly an unhealthy amount of t-shirts. For two reasons: one: I’m a major “throw a jacket over a tee” kind of lady and secondly; is there anything better than a brand new white tee?!
I also have a (slight) sneaker obsession. I have really leaned in to the athleisure trend over the last few years (despite my mother’s dislike). I imagine in my next life I’ll represent or work for an athletic brand. Or maybe be in a Yeezy entourage…. I could be into that.
How long does it take you to get dressed?
I have two modes. I am either running late because I stalled getting ready so I do what my BFF Liz calls a ‘Pop & Go” where I’m popping on one of those new white tees and grabbing my favorite perfectly lived in Madewell Denim Jacket and GO’N! Or I am lighting some candles turning on Oprah Supersoul and taking my sweet-ass time.
But on the typical morning it’s a pretty quick ordeal…. I’d rather leave time for coffee.
What are some dressing or shopping rules you think everyone should follow?
Wear whatever you want and whatever makes you feel great but make sure it fits properly.
Great dressing to me is about great tailoring. I may not love or be drawn to someone’s fashion choices but if it is the proper fit and tailored appropriately I’ll admire their care they are putting into dressing.
What is the favorite piece of clothing or jewelry that you own?
My wedding ring. My partner, Austin went nontraditional with an Albion Ring by David Yurman. *He had some guided hints* Though I actually often can be spotted not wearing my wedding ring (this material item has little weight on our commitment) or at times wearing a different simple gold band. My wedding ring will always remind me of the most special times in our relationship and I’ll forever cherish his choice in it.
What was the first investment item that you bought?
In my early twenties, I bought a Theory black blazer and it was a little over 500 dollars. I felt invincible in that jacket. I wore it well over 500 times and had some of my best interviews, dates, coffee and cigarettes in that damn jacket. It has since been retired but that investment was quite possibly one of the smartest decisions I made throughout my entire twenties. Haha.
Was there a point where your style changed dramatically?
My style continues to evolve as I get older or really as I become more comfortable in my own my body. Looking back I do think I was really into fashion (!) and trends (!) whereas now I am much more into fit and style and what makes me feel my best. This also translate into me buying far less but buying better quality.
What are you trying to achieve when you dress for the world?
I love the quote from RuPaul, “We all come into this world naked, the rest is all drag.” How we dress and present ourselves is a big part of us and conveys a story. Whether you love fashion or not- how little or how much fucks you give shapes how people respond to you. Feeling confident on the outside only strengthens my spirits confidence on the inside. And then I’m ready to take on the world! Bring it! ;)
How do you care for your body?
I try to be very intentional about caring and loving my body and spirit. This has not always been easy or even a priority of mine until the last couple of years. My husband and I are both vegan and it has become a very spiritual practice for myself. It has challenged myself to look at different areas in which I can live and practices discipline and holistic health. I have come to realize that there is no greater relationship you can have other than with self. Being intentional and cultivating your spirt/conscious will only help you be who you were destined to be and able to truly accept love from yourself and others.
Do you have a unified way of approaching your life, work, relationships, finances, and chores?
Stay True. If you can go into these areas with a clear mind and heart of who you truly are you will be incredibly more successful than if it is forced.
I definitely can have the “disease to please” and have to continually keep my actions, promises, and motivates in check. This is such a learning process for me and I can often have a hard time saying, “no.” But I am learning that when we say “yes” to the right things magic often happens whereas when we neversay “no” magic quickly fades.
Please say anything you like about yourself.
I love clothing & styling and helping others look and feel their best! I am a happy, free spirit who loves to connect with other woman and hearing their stories. Helping others feel empowered and creating spaces and networks for women to meet and feel strong is a passion and life desire.
Thank you so much, Mel!
(All questions taken from the book Women in Clothes, by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, and Leanne Shapton).
For more on Mel Holmes:
Her personal Instagram (she’s taking a break until 4/1)