The list is in: Deal Divas Five Best Dressed in Tampa Bay!
It’s the season of style in Tampa Bay. With Fashion Week Tampa Bay 2010 under way, it’s a time to focus on the people whose personal style adds to the fabric of this place. The Deal Divas solicited nominations and put our heads together to come up with a list of people in Tampa Bay who inspire us by the way they dress. We ended up with five folks who we think make a statement by what they wear, whether it’s urban chic or retro glamor. For this group, what they put on their bodies is a direct reflection of their personality, passion and purpose. You may not agree with our choices, but what is undeniable is that everyone we selected has a point of view. And when it comes to matters of style, that’s the most important element.
These beautiful portraits are by St. Petersburg Times photographer Edmund Fountain, shot in the streets and alleys of Ybor City.
Home: Downtown Lakeland
Occupation: Classical music host, WUSF-FM 89.7
Describe your style: I tend to shop secondhand to find unique items, things that are very different. I try to find what works for me.
In three words: Quirky. Twisted. Classic.
Style icons: Tilda Swinton is androgynous and there’s something edgy about her look that I love. Eva Fontanelli, she’s twisted and gothic, and I just love her.
Favorite designers: Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs.
Favorite stores: The Sunshine Thrift in South Tampa and Thrift Connection on Kennedy are two of my favorites. People give away nice things.
Item you can’t live without: I have a Brahmin handbag in pecan crocodile. It’s a nice large size that I can put everything in and it just goes with everything.
Fashion advice to live by: Figure out your body and what looks good on you and don’t pay attention to anything else. Pick what you like, colors and textures. It’s almost intuitive.
At what age did you start to care what you wore? Only recently. I really experimented with what looked good on my body for years. I did full-on vintage for a while with ’50s-inspired dresses made of uncomfortable fabric.
If you could go back to any fashion period, which would it be? The late ’50s. I think of Audrey Hepburn. There was something very dressed up and classic about it. -- Deal Diva Nicole
Home: South Tampa
Occupation: Friday night DJ at The Kennedy Lounge and founder of ConnXions nonprofit youth empowerment organization.
Describe your style: It’s built around things I don’t see every day. I don’t have the Gucci money, so I have to be creative. I also like to feel comfortable if I come out in a suit and shoes or sneakers and shorts. I own stuff the average guy could get, but the way I put it together sets me apart.
Style icon: P. Diddy. Even when he wasn’t who he is now, he still had style.
Favorite stores: H&M for shirts, sweaters and more trendy pieces. Express Men for ties.
You’ll never catch Ekin buying a cheap… Suit. I take that very seriously.
Fashion advice to live by: Do you! If what you put on is an extension of you, then everything else will follow.
In three words: Frugal. Chic. Timeless.
Worst fashion moment: I got caught in the skinny jean thing. Nothing felt right the whole night I wore them. I felt like everybody could see the faces on the money in my pocket. — Deal Diva Nicole
Home: St. Petersburg
Occupation: Founder of Freeway Fashion image consulting firm. Reporter at freewayfashion.com, traveling to fashion shows around the world to interview designers, models and stylists.
Describe your style: A sassy kind of classy. I consider myself a classy woman, but I dress a little more on the sassy side without being provocative and showing too much.
Style icon: Coco Chanel. She really reinvented style. She really was the first designer that came along and was unafraid and introduced shorter dresses and trousers.
Favorite designers: Zac Posen, Herve Leger, Marc Jacobs.
Favorite stores: I shop at Dara Lauria, a boutique in Tampa. She has great dresses. I’m also a Saks Fifth Avenue shopper.
Best deal ever: I am a major vintage and thrift-store shopper. I go to a place in St. Petersburg called Revolve. I love, love, love Revolve. I bought a black Versace dress there. I don’t even know if they realized it was Versace because it was $60. I took it to my tailor and had it shortened and had it made to fit my body, and now I have a Versace for $60.
At what age did you start to care about what you wore? When I was in eighth grade, I was the newspaper editor, and I convinced my English teacher to let me have a fashion section. I called it Trendsetters. I used to draw what was in and what was out. My English teacher said, “That’s never going to work. No one’s going to read it.”
If you could go back to any fashion period, which would it be and why? Definitely the ’20s, during that movement where women were kind of liberated with fashion. They were able to shorten the hemlines and wear a little more makeup. It was beyond fashion. For me, it’s not just the clothes and the shoes. There’s something more to it that’s deeper. It’s about movement. It’s about change. — Deal Diva Stephanie
Home: Palma Ceia
Occupation: Retired owner of Scogin’s clothing store in Brandon, socialite.
Fashion item you can’t live without: A pair of trousers pleated with the front of the waistband leveled with the back, so the crease in the trouser goes from the waistline to the instep unbroken.
Style icons: Humphrey Bogart, I liked the shape of his shirt collars, his tie knot and the lapel of his coats.
Describe your style: Utter simplicity. I would wear a starched and ironed white shirt preferably with a collar on the shirt, the points disappearing underneath the lapel of the coat, so there’s not a space between the end of the collar and the lapel.
Favorite designers: I don’t have one. The market is blessed with an abundance of knock-offs. Anybody who would pay regular price is foolish.
Favorite stores: Stein Mart, Syms and thrift stores. People abandon the clothes of yesteryear because what’s in their closets is not what they see on TV now. But the clothes of yesteryear are what I like.
At what age did you start to care what you wore? In my 20s. I was living in Brandon and my family was operating a little store that sold hardware and ice cream. We then moved to clothing and I became aware of my appearance. — Deal Diva Nicole
Occupation: Owner of Fresh Threads consignment boutique in South Tampa
Describe your style: Eclectic. Some days I’m more edgy, others bohemian, sometimes more classic, and I love to throw in a little vintage, too. Whatever style I’m feeling that day, I always try to put my personal twist on it to make it my own.
Recent splurge? A $200 Emily Storksak Diaper Bag in a bronze-pewter color. I love it because it doesn’t look like a diaper bag!
Fashion item you can’t live without: Accessories make an outfit. You can wear a simple white ribbed tank top and jeans with the perfect shoe or amazing handbag or a huge statement necklace and the outfit goes from boring to fabulous!
Style icons: A classic would be Katharine Hepburn. She was sassy, strong and had a distinct point of view in her fashion.
Favorite designers: I love shopping small boutiques that feature contemporary designers because I love the uniqueness and don’t feel like I’m wearing the same thing as everyone else in Tampa. My favorite contemporary designers are Graham and Spencer, Rachel Pally, IRO and Rebecca Taylor. But I also love higher-end designers, like Chloe, Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler,
Favorite stores: I always find something to buy every time I visit Penelope T boutique on S Howard Avenue. Other favorites are Sweet Emotion/Why Not Boutique on S MacDill Avenue for easy pieces at amazing prices and Cary Lane in San Francisco.
Best deal ever: A pair of Marc Jacobs black peep-toe platforms with frayed trim. I was dying for them after spotting them in a magazine, but they were about $700. A few months later I found them on the shoe sale rack at Neiman Marcus in my size … for $150!
At what age did you start to care what you wore? I can’t remember not caring. — Deal Diva Kim