We met by chance. I was going into Collider to work. Stephanie was leaving a Toastmasters meeting held at Collider. I was wearing my cute, grey booties with tan skinny pants. Stephanie looked super put together. She mentioned that she sells clothes by a designer based out of California. I told her that I have a fashion blog. It was what one might consider a moment of serendipity. We agreed that we had to meet again.
So, we set aside an hour to discuss style and ended up talking about life too. Isn’t that the way it goes? I don’t think one exists without the other.
A few things to know about Stephanie: She is a stylist for cabi, in the Air Guard, has served 2 tours overseas, is a part-time nurse, and the mother of two boys (7 years-old and 8 months). She loves to travel and go on adventures and to do it all in style (of course).
Q: What are the hottest fall trends you’re seeing?
A: One large wide cuff, about 4 or 5 inches [at the hem of jeans] to pop the shoe instead of the messy rolled cuff of last season. Tough Love. You’re going to see things that are feminine yet have a little bit of rock glam. Scarves are everywhere. Animal prints. Everything’s about the animal.
True story: After Stephanie and I talked about the trends, I started seeing the large wide cuff everywhere. From women out for a night on the town to ones who were waiting in line at Chipotle. So the next pair of jeans I bought were ones I could do that with.
What would you bring on a to New York City?
Yes, I’ve been asking everyone this! I’ll be there in just 3 days. Style is not to be decided on alone. I am not an island! Or, I don’t live on a deserted one. Or, well…
A: High straight jeans. Tighter jeans with the destruction are still happening. The high waisted straight jeans we have at cabi, I call the muffin-top-be-gone jeans. At least one dress. She pointed to one in a cabi catalogue called the Treasure Dress. It’s paisley, has gorgeous colors, creates a gorgeous hourglass figure and with the v-neck, views come up to your face. It was created after finding a 1940s vintage style dress in Paris. You just don’t find clothes made like that anymore. You can dress it up or dress it down.
Some of Stephanie’s best advice (imho):
- I think if you put on something and you feel beautiful in it you should wear it. When you fill your closet, your home, or your mind – fill it with things that you love, so you’ll be able to love yourself more and give more love to others.
- You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing all the time. If you want to feel put together follow the rule of three. Put a top on, then you need 3 things to be completely put together. Maybe you throw a sweater on, earrings, and a bracelet. Three things. It could be a hat, a scarf, just little things. It’s a simple.
Q: What are the biggest style mistakes that you see people make?
- Fit. Many people, especially women think they’re a lot larger than they are in the Midwest. They wear oversized clothes or they don’t know what size fits them. I like to let people pick out what they like and then I like to make suggestions. Maybe they needed a balance in the shoulders.
- Beyond casual. I have friends that say “All I wear are t-shirts and hoodie sweatshirts.” I’m sitting right next to you. I have a blouse on and a sweater. It’s the same thought process, but when you look in the mirror what makes you feel better? I love it when people wear things because it inspires them. It’s kind of a cycle where you feed your soul.
- Leggings are not pants. They’re okay to wear, but then you need a tunic.
- Wearing bras that don’t fit. You need a basic bra that fits you correctly. It’s something that’s never gone away, yet there are so many people who don’t.
Q: What’s one of the toughest parts of your job?
A: How critical and negative people can be towards themselves. Some people hate Monday through Friday. You don’t have to have that. You can have anything you want in life. I just want to squish their cheeks and help them out. It’s okay to be happy.
Q: What have you learned since becoming a stylist?
A: Part of it has to do with fashion. Part of it has to do with life. Whatever your goals are business goals, workout goals; you need to feed yourself and fill up your own cup. When you start interacting with other people throughout the day, you’ll probably encounter negatives.
In the morning Wilkins likes to feed her mind and focus on her goals. “You have to take care of yourself in order to take better care of others.”
Q: You mentioned workout goals. Do you have a favorite workout?
A: I love kettlebells. I do a lot of kettlebells, because I’m so busy. It’s a great condensing workout. You get your weightlifting and toning combined with cardio. And I kind of feel like a badass when I do it. I try to run, but that’s because of the military. I do a little yoga, but I love hot yoga (as far as I know there is not a place in the Rochester, Minnesota area to do hot yoga).
Q: Why did you decide to become a stylist?
A: I was looking for a major transformation in my life. My husband and I have done two deployments overseas. You have a lot of time to think about life. We’ve all had goals for ourselves. “What am I going to be doing when I’m 30?” Then all the sudden you’re 30. Things were great. On a scale it was average. It was good. I wanted more. I wanted to be my best self. Whether it was in fashion or in life. I did a lot of self-discovery stuff. [At cabi] we don’t just sell clothes. We sell a lifestyle. You don’t have to be that person walking through the halls, staring at your cell phone. It was definitely more of a self-discovery thing. Time is precious. And when you’re sitting in Afghanistan for a year and you don’t get to see your children, you’re like I missed all of this. I’m never taking this for granted again.
To cabi or Not to cabi
After getting a chance to talk about and see some cabi styles, I asked Stephanie if there was any way for me to pop into a show sometime soon. I lucked out and her friend Nancy was happy to have me crash her cabi party. I can tell everyone that yes, the clothes are fantastic! The Hanson Anorak I tried out, has great detailing and the weight seems perfect for facing fall’s bluster in. Also, I am always cold and usually keep a jacket on for way longer than I should once indoors. In the Hanson Anorak I don’t think anyone would say to me, “Why don’t you take off your jacket and stay awhile?” It’s so cute, it looks like it should be worn all the time.