Interview with Helene Heath of Fashion Over Reason
Wit: When did you begin your blog and what inspired you?
Helene: I started Fashion Over Reason in 2007 when blogs were a virtually unknown medium. I desperately needed a creative outlet, and a tech-savvy friend of mine had one and somehow inspired me to think that I could do it too. It was a hobby until last summer, when I decided to take it full time.
Wit: You received a Bachelor of Arts in fashion marketing and have experienced both the print and digital sides of the publishing industry (Marie Claire, Zink, xojane.com, to name a few). You also continue to be a contributor for the Lucky website, while running your own blog and personal styling business with Keaton Row for women and Dash Hudson for men. What did these experiences teach you about fashion and style?
Helene: My path has definitely taught me a ton of different things about myself and about the industry and has absolutely shaped my work ethic, as well as my aesthetic. Being immersed in an environment where you are constantly exposed to fashion and stimulated by peers who share your passion forges your eye and your taste. Fashion is something that becomes second nature just by the sheer fact that you are just submerged in it every day. It's everywhere you look, it's everything you research, it's all you think about during your waking hours. I've always been very image-conscious (I mean in a self-aware, aesthetics kind of way, as opposed to status, if that makes any sense), whether it was my pink hair phase or wanting to look like a skater girl. I was very much cognizant and mindful of what I would project by adopting certain codes. But when I developed a real interest for fashion in my late teens, I became such a fashion nerd - there was this inexplicable desire to dig up all the information I could get my paws on. I started doing research about all of its history, I wanted to know every single thing about every major figure that had a hand in it. I was looking up models, stylists, and photographers. Working in this industry makes you want to dig deeper into all the references you can possibly find. You learn that liking fashion is not just about loving to shop, but about wanting to help people that aren't as clued-in; that it isn't about being obsessed with brand names but about being obsessed with knowing what each house represents. You get a deeper sense of appreciation.
Wit: We love the philosophy of your blog is to leave others feeling inspired. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Helene: I get inspired by so many things! Photography, music, movies, my friends, power women, girls on the street, travels... Inspiration is so endless and I just want to spread it all around.
Wit: Describe your styling process when attending a wedding as a guest.
Helene: I go about the location first, which is so important in dictating the vibe of the wedding, and thus what you need to be going for with your own attire. Dressing for a country wedding is so different than dressing for city nuptials. After that's been established, I turn to my closet to see if there is already something in there that could fit the bill. Sure, a wedding is always a great excuse to buy a new outfit, and a lot of women automatically feel obligated to add to their closet when receiving an invite. Truth be told, I'd rather spend the extra coin on something I've been lusting after than on a dress I would only wear a handful of times. Remember that, ladies! Shop your own closet first and if nothing really suits the event, take it to the store. You most likely already own something that is perfect for the occasion.
Wit: What styling elements do you recommend for wedding guests at a black tie event?
Helene: Something sharp, dressy and fairly conservative, favoring solid colors over prints. Maxi lengths are expected, but you could absolutely do a midi or cocktail length, depending on your hosts and how you style your look. A single sole heel is de rigueur.
Wit: Summer soiree?
Helene: Something fun and girly. The perfect occasion for a cocktail dress.
Wit: Garden fete?
Helene: Something a little whimsical and ethereal. Fresh and airy, put together but not overly fussy. Hair down.
Wit: We believe in investing in designer pieces, as they are timeless. What advice would you give to wedding guests to transform the look of a designer piece so it can be worn different ways?
Helene: Switching things up with accessories can completely transform your look. Say you invested in a beautiful brand name sequined flapper-inspired dress that you cannot foresee being worn casually - think again! Swap the strappy heels for a cute loafer and throw on a leather bomber jacket over top it, and you'll look perfect for a less-than-formal happy hour with the girls.
Wit: What is a must-have item you recommend for wedding guests?
Helene: A comfortable shoe. Comfortable heels do exist! It's best to avoid swinging off your stilettos by the end of the night and boogying down bare feet (something I've admittedly been guilty of in the past).
Wit: Where are your favorite places to shop for formal event attire?
Helene: Truth be told, I am not really a formal event type of girl, but I know that I'll always find what I need for any type of occasion on shopbop.com. They offer free shipping and returns so you can try everything on in the comfort of your own home, see what looks good with what you already have, and send back what you don't want. For brick and mortar, I like to hit Barney's.
Wit: What is the best styling advice you were ever given?
Helene: One of the best pieces of advice I've ever received is that you get what you pay for. Nothing's ever been truer, especially in terms of cut and fabric. But I've acquired some of my own wisdom through the years. First of all, know what looks good on you: a lot of people lack a critical eye when it comes to their own fashion choices, so it's important to figure out what flatters your shape. The beauty of being a woman is that we're literally all made different, and what looks good on one person can look completely tragic on another. You just need to find what suits you, which can sometimes be discouraging, but there is something out there for everyone. Secondly, invest in the classics because you'll never get tired of them, and go high street (i.e. Zara, H&M, Topshop and the likes) when it comes to trendier - read: disposable - items. And lastly, wear what makes you feel good. The most necessary thing you need to finish off a look is confidence; without it, no one will ever believe you, sartorially speaking.