Getting together at a coffee shop to talk style is delightful to have on a to-do list any day of the week. This past Monday meeting with Josie Schwarz, a Master Stylist at Rocco Altobelli Salons and Day Spas in Rochester was on mine. She recently returned from a trip to Denmark. While there she worked on models for a shoot with a fashion designer and she explored the Hygge way of life. “You can’t go there for 2 weeks and not be inspired,” said Schwarz.
Josie won the trip by taking first place in hair cut at the Rocco Altobelli Fashion Awards, a stunning creative hair and fashion show held in the Twin Cities each year. Stylists create looks in six categories: haircut, hair color, nails, makeup, total look and manscape.
Her winning haircut was much like what is currently on trend in Denmark, a disconnected short cut. Josie took 2nd place in total look and she was in the top 10 for makeup.
In addition to having style talent, she has her own baking business, The Farmer’s Daughter. With all of her food and style smarts, interviewing Josie was a must for 40 Fit N’ Stylish.
Q: What goes into developing a design for the RAFA contest?
A: Oh girl. Everyone does it a little different. You can either start with scouting for a model or have the idea. I do a combination. I have some ideas and then I will change those ideas to marry the model. If you put an idea on a model that doesn’t fit the model, then you are kind of working up river, against the grain. I do think at the end of the day they still need to look pretty.
Q: What was the Model Shoot like?
A: He [the fashion designer] was a lot of fun to work with. Very in the moment to work with too. What should we do for hair? What are you putting the models in? I’ll know when I get them dressed. Just laid back.
When we walked in everyone was on it, but didn’t seem crazy busy. We started with a soft look and then each change we’d add to it, so that we don’t have to start off from scratch, wiping makeup off, etc.
Q: Are there style rules that women should follow as they age? Say, as they approach their 40s…
A: I don’t like to put a number on anything. I think age is irrelevant. Women who are 50 can look all different ages. It’s about how they look, their maintenance level, and their style. Short hair versus long hair is about personality. Are they conservative? Professional? Do they want to commit to putting time into it? I don’t care what age they are, we need to find a style they have time for, that doesn’t overtake their face, and that they feel good about. Hair is the accessory you never get to take off.
One style hurdle women set up for themselves…
“My friend has this cut or this shirt and they want the same,” said Josie. What’s good for your friend may not work for you. “I try to personalize it for you. Your look should be tailored for you.”
Josie compared mimicking someone else’s look exactly instead of being inspired by their look and making it work for you the difference between buying tailored versus off the rack clothing.
Q: What did you notice about Denmark style?
Face: Beautiful long lashes, minimal makeup, a clean, clear look for their skin, whether they were wearing makeup or not the look was fresh and natural. There was some lipstick, long lashes and defined brows. Little to no eyeshadow or monochromatic shadow, a little bit of blends if you’re looking for a different look. Maybe two colors [for the eyelids] at night, not the three or four for the deep dark evening look.
Hair: A lot of very natural, seamless looks. You can’t even see where the highlight begins or ends in their hair. A lot of long hair that was not very layered and a lot of really short hair and a lot of the short hair had a lot of disconnection for both men and women. There were a lot of man buns.
Clothes: Clean, put together, and functional. A lot of scarves. No cleavages. Skirts were a lot longer. I think that’s where the trend is going with a little bit below the knee. Some are mid-calf depending on your body shape. The blouses weren’t so low cut. We wear a lot of v-necks here. They spend more on an outfit and have classic pieces. We have more quantity, but not as much quality in our closets.They might spend more on a pair of pants that goes with everything.
People are always dressed for the weather. They always have an extra layer, a sweater around their shoulders, because it might get cold. A lot of smart jackets. People have blazers for days (couture, fun zippers). And the men dress so nice.
Accessories: They’re walking and biking all the time (40% of the Copenhagen workforce bikes to work every day).There’s a lot of cobblestone there, so walking around in wedges or heels can be ridiculous. They wear very practical shoes. Tennis shoes, but they can be cute, like Sperrys. Lot of flats. Those were cuter and not so tennis shoe-y. A lot of sling type purses, it’s like a fanny pack, but not worn at the waist. Everything is just smart. They look put together and they can still walk.
Q: What would you recommend packing when traveling to Europe?
A: Pack less. Europeans travel with these tiny little suitcases.
Q: What were the hotels like?
A: The hotel rooms were very quaint. Everything is small. Bathrooms are tiny. Everything is very green (eco-conscious). You have to put your key card in to turn on the lights.
Q: You visited a bakery with an amazing reputation while you were in Copenhagen, right?
A: La Glace. We had to wait 15 minutes to sit at a table in a bakery (as in that is how amazing the place is). It takes a little more time to eat, to get your food. They’re so resourceful. There are these little round balls that we kept seeing. They take all of their croissants and pastries at the end of the day, tear them up, put liquor in the center and then dip them in a hazelnut [or other] powder. They use every scrap, every bit, every piece. Everything’s pretty though.
Our conversation turned to a more general one about baked goods and sweets in Denmark…
They have a lot of custards and croissants and layered things, shortbreads. They have a lot of fruit filling.
There’s one dessert that has a shortbread, apple filling, custard, and meringue. They have a ton of hazelnut. Nutella originated in Europe. Their jams have a lot less stuff in them. There was even crushed fresh raspberry instead of jam.
Q: What’s it like dining out in Denmark?
A: Almost every place has a patio and they all have blankets hanging on the backs of their chairs. Everything is about making you comfortable and cozy. You feel at home. Every table had a vase with a flower in it of some sort. It was the little extra detail to make you feel welcome and cozy. We never once had a bad experience. When they’re taking your order they’re engaged with you, making eye contact. I don’t feel like they’re trying to do 10 things at once.
Josie scrolled through her phone to show me a picture of a beautiful cup of hot chocolate with a chocolate sweet on the saucer next to the cup. “Isn’t that beautiful! And there’s that little something extra.”
Coming Home a Bit Changed
While the older architecture is very ornate, the lifestyle in Denmark is simple and clean. Josie is embracing that simplicity. “Many there work 10 – 5 and they’re done. They don’t feel guilty.” Josie was in a high-end chocolate shop during her stay close to closing time. “She had this sweet voice. She said, ‘We’re closing, but we’ll be back tomorrow at 10.'”
“Stress is a health concern and it trickles down into our relationships, and how we spend our time,” Josie said. “That was really powerful to me. We do have to work hard. Do we have to work that hard?”
Since she’s been back, she’s been reducing the amount of stuff in her home and finding a dedicated place for everything that remains. “We Americans just have so much stuff. Do I need 16 different lotions? Do I want to have to dust this all the time? I’d rather go on vacations.” A closet full of clothes is still important. She still lives in America.
Follow Josie’s baking business, The Farmer’s Daughter @fdsweets on Instagram.
See an outfit I styled while thinking about all the lovely things we discussed during the interview here.