The Chic List: A List of the Chicest Southerners

Wednesday, Apr 21,2010
Alexandra Townsend Wilkes

Everyone who is from the South or who has been to South has noticed that there is a certain charm and style that resonates.  It is the fact that we dress to the nines for Sunday brunch or feel the need to wear a dress because it is Christmas and pull out all the accessories for a night on the town.  It is going to an SEC game and seeing the young ladies in kitten heels carrying Prada handbags.  Style is part of our lives.  No matter what your budget, your own personal style is important, it is a part of who you are.  Style goes beyond simply wearing 'designer' labels, it is about having confidence in yourself and enjoying the life you want to live.  That is why instead of doing the typical 'Most Beautiful People' list, where everyone gets to wonder "how on earth is that person on there?" -- we decided to profile those that are living stylishly in everything they do.  From designers creating beautiful clothing to entrepreneurs with chic businesses, these are people that captivated us not only with their style, but also with their philanthropy.  They represent 'chic' in everything they do.

Lizbeth Anne Licopantis King - Yes, I'm half Greek, 40
Co-Founder, Claridge + King


What inspires you: In business: our customers. We're passionate about personalized customer service and knowing that what we design means something to people.  That inspires me to no end.  In life: all the little, small pleasures -- getting cozy in a two-ply cashmere sweater, a warm slice of Lakeshore Berry Crumb pie from Grand Traverse Pie Company on Lake Michigan where I summer, a spray of my favorite Jo Malone Gardenia scent.

What can you not live without: My three children, the color blue, and cupcakes - they all put a smile on my face.

Favorite song: At the moment - We are the World 2010- so well done and inspiring - I even downloaded the video.

What excites you about waking in the morning: A large cup of coffee and reading my favorite blogs - MyScoop included!

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I am a stickler for a well-made, beautifully outfitted bed (pressed linens seduce me so!).  After I make my bed each morning I spray it with Caldrea Linen spray in sea salt neroli for a fresh clean scent.

Style icons: For their classic timeless style, Audrey Hepburn (especially when she was dressed by Hubert de Givenchy).  For entertaining: Pauline de Rothschild.  For decorating: Kelly Wearstler and Victoria Hagan.

Why is style important: It can define your sense of self.

Cause that has touched your heart: I feel especially drawn to causes supporting children and pets -- they need a voice.  I love BestFriends.org.  They aide animals of all kinds and were the first ones on the scene rescuing pets when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  Also the Central Asia Institute works to build schools educate girls and young women in remote and very rural areas of Pakistan and Afganistan who otherwise wouldn't be able to go to school.  They promote books not bombs and believe educating people is the best way to promote peace and understanding between our cultures.

If you could be anywhere in the world: On a beach in the Mexican Riveria watching my husband fish the flats and enjoying some fresh Ceviche -- I yearn to be totally disconnected for even a few days.

Favorite shoes: My Theory black patent boots with double gold zippers.  Although they might be usurped by the Uggs next season -- Jimmy Choo is working on a collaboration to design.

Favorite designers: Diane von Furstenburg, Narciso Rodriguez, Chloe and Vera Wang.  I love the designer collaborations at Target too.

Most prized item of clothing and why: My Claridge + King His is Hers Shirt - It is the most comfy nightshirt I own.

Most prized accessory and why: My vintage Gucci clutch. Because my sister got it on her first trip to Paris.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My diamond dome ring. Because is was created from my Grandad's tie clip - A grandfather whom I never met.


Melanie Louise Petro, 35
Petro Cosmetic Surgery & Tivoli Medical Spa


What inspires you: Grant, my 4 year old son.

What can you not live without: The truth! I value honesty more than anything else.  I could not live without artichokes either -- I eat them everyday.  Low in calories, high in antioxidants, the perfect food!

Favorite song: So Close by Jon McLaughlin from the movie Enchanted.  My son & I dance to it almost every night.

What excites you about waking in the morning: Exercise

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I love cartoons, not just watching them with my son, I really love to watch them.

Style icons: Constantly changing.

Why is style important: Clothes that I love make me feel really good, that makes me better in every way.

Cause that has touched your heart: When my patients come in and say how happy they are to wear clothes they never could before, I know that there are few things in life that make us feel so good!

If you could be anywhere in the world: At home, with my son.

Favorite shoes: Easy one! Prada.

Favorite designers: Nanettte Lepore, Milly, Alice & Olivia.

Most prized item of clothing and why: My thigh-high Prada boots, they were a gift from someone who certainly does not value shoes as I do, but got them because I loved them.

Most prized accessory and why: My hot pink Valentino purse that looks like a giant flower. My mom gave it to me for Christmas. It was the last one in the US!

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: I have necklace with a “g” on it that stands for Grant.  He loves for me to wear it & I do everyday.  I have had it for 2 years & he asked my mom to get me an “m” because that is his favorite letter for mama.  I wear “m&g” now.

Haley Kilpatrick, 23
Girl Talk


What inspires you: People inspire me. I’ve been blessed with amazing friends & family.

What can you not live without: As cliché as it may sound, I cannot live without my Blackberry. I am not an office girl and my Blackberry allows me to take my office with me and work from anywhere.

Favorite song: “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong

What excites you about waking in the morning: Knowing that I have found my purpose. My job (Girl Talk) allows me to learn and grow each day, all while making this world a better place for middle and high school girls.

What would surprise people about you if they knew: My fear of heights.

Style icons: Halle Berry and Jennifer Aniston

Cause that has touched your heart: Compassion International. You can sponsor and correspond with a child in another country who need your help. You monthly contribution pays for their education and other life’s necessities.

If you could be anywhere in the world: Laying on the beach on 30-A in Florida!
Favorite shoes: Depends. Lady Shoes = Nude Guess sling backs Lazy Shoes = My beloved Chaco flip flops

Favorite designers: Tom Ford & Tory Burch

Most prized item of clothing and why: My True Religion blue jeans, because they fit perfectly and have been through good and bad times with me.

Most prized accessory and why: Tan wallet that doubles as a clutch, because you never know.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My grandmothers gold coin necklace because she loved it so much and it reminds me of her.

Whitney Ann Dunn, 29
The Perfect Pair


What inspires you: Traveling, music, funny people

What can you not live without: My family. AND music...I never leave home without an iPod

Favorite song: Adele's version of "Make You Feel My Love" written by Bob Dylan

What excites you about waking in the morning: The new day ahead.  A good run at Percy Warner Park.  Going to work.

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I adore hip hop music and rarely listen to country.  I'm like that guy in the opening scene of "Office Space" who listens to rap super loud in the car.  When someone pulls up close to me at an intersection I turn it down so they can't hear my bass bumping.  Hah!

Style icons: Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, the architect John Saladino, photographer Annie Leibowitz for her portraits of musicians, my friend Leah Sohr.

Why is style important: It gives us our individuality. "Fashions fade style is eternal" -YSL (no one says it better)

Cause that has touched your heart: Soles4Soles www.soles4souls.org

If you could be anywhere in the world: Sitting around a bonfire on my parent's farm laughing and sipping good red wine with my family members.

Favorite shoes: My cowboy boots OR those shoes with the red bottoms.... They all slay me.  I only cheat on my shoe store to buy his shoes.

Favorite designers: Dusica Dusica -- she manages to put an edgy updated flair on even the most simple of shoes.... And, her handmade bags, yummy!  Rick Owens can't be beat!  His draping techniques are effortless yet structured...his leather jackets are total rock star!  Calleen Cordero for her tall shoes that are actually comfortable enough to wear all day...she's mastered that laid back sexy chic look.  Christian Louboutin -- sexiest shoes ever made.  Period.  Annie Costello Brown for her hip, edgy leather jewelry.  American Apparel for their v neck t's.

Most prized item of clothing and why: An old ratty pair of vintage blue jeans from college.  I just can't give them up.

Most prized accessory and why: A great pair of shoes.  It's where I always start when building an ensemble...from the shoes up.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My dad's watch.  I borrowed it from him years ago and fell in love...it has remained in my possession since.

Casey Stribling, 31
The Perfect Pair


What inspires you: I am constantly inspired by my friends.  I am blessed with a group of friends from all walks of life and with all types of styles...from preppy, to hippy, from rocker to princess...I love seeing what everyone comes up with for all of our different events.

What can you not live without: My black combat boots

Favorite song: That is almost impossible to name just one...right now..."Turning Home" by David Nail

What excites you about waking in the morning: A few things...sunshine...my first laugh of the day...and coming in to our store, The Perfect Pair!

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I love keeping stats for baseball teams...I did it for 6 years in middle school and high school for our varsity baseball team.  It's like an addiction.  I can't watch a game without running through the stats in my head.

Style icons: Rick Owens, Tom Ford, Sienna Miller, and my friends would tease me and say Joan Jett.

Why is style important: Style is important because it is so individual...it can change your mood and your attitude...it is so unique to the individual person...almost impossible to duplicate, but is easy to imitate.  And, imitation is the biggest form of flattery. Ha!

Cause that has touched your heart: Vanderbilt Children's Hospital

If you could be anywhere in the world: St. Bart's...right this very second

Favorite shoes: Mike & Chris black leather combat boots

Favorite designers: Rick Owens, Tom Ford, Nicholas K, Elizabeth & James, Helmut Lang

Most prized item of clothing and why: Rick Owens graphite leather jacket...because I can literally wear it with every single thing in my entire closet all year long...from jean sorts and a tee shirt...to a formal Yigal dress.

Most prized accessory and why:  My helmut lang scarf at the moment because it is absolutely freezing cold and I don't even want to take it off when I go to sleep...and, like my Rick coat, it is gray and goes with every single thing in my entire wardrobe

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My grandmother's charm bracelet that she left to me when she passed away when I was in 2nd grade because of the noise it makes on my wrist immediately gives me the image of her in my head...her look, her smell, her everything.

Emily Dees Boulden, 28
SWANK


What inspires you: FASHION, ART, and  TRAVEL

What can you not live without: My iphone, Friends, Family, and Fabulous Dedicated Employees.

Favorite song: Wagonwheel by Old Crow Medicine Show.

What excites you about waking in the morning: That I get to go to my own clothing stores that I started all by myself and style people in clothes that I have selectively chosen for my stores, ensuring them that when they leave SWANK that they will not only have a unique piece of clothing but be able to walk in a room and feel confident knowing they look like NO ONE ELSE. It has been a dream of mine since I was a small girl, so to be able to have not ONE but TWO clothing stores has been a super surreal experience! Seriously, I lay in bed at night sometimes, thinking is this happening?

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I am athletic and signed to play College basketball at Ole Miss. People think I am so girly bc I love Fashion and all the things that come with it, but I am actually a huge sports lover also. I feel like me being so competitive growing up playing basketball is what molded me into the person I am today.  I don't lose at much and if I do I DO NOT like it. I love pressure situations and I love competition, it seriously drives me. I led my high School basketball team to a perfect season, with a record of 46-0, and then signed to play basketball at Ole Miss, but never made it to the season, because it was NOT at all the path I saw myself going down.

Style icons:  Rachel Zoe, Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller and Charlize Theron

Why is style important:  It is your identity and how you can express yourself without words.

Cause that has touched your heart: Helping those affected by Hurricane Katrina because it affected my home state of Mississippi.

If you could be anywhere in the world: The Maldives or Bali.

Favorite shoes: Barbara Bui, YSL, Dior, Gucci, Balenciaga, Etro

Favorite designers: Alice Temperley, Marchesa, Jenny Packham, Mara Hoffman, Vivienne Westwood, Iodice, Tom Ford, Rozae Nichols, Rag and Bone, ... this list goes on.

Most prized item of clothing and why: Currently it would have to be my Over the Knee Barbara Bui boots, they just make me feel like I am on a runway sometimes!! haha :) Seriously, something about those shoes make me invincible.

Most prized accessory and why:  My Louis Vuitton luggage. I started collecting it when I was in high school, and each piece I own reminds me of different things I have done and the places I have been.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My engagement ring for many reasons!!!



Carole Marcus Pizitz, 63......(45 in my mind)
Company: I like the "company" of fun and energizing people of any age.


What inspires you: I am constantly inspired by the purity and honesty and brilliance of my grandchildrren and all children. I so wish we could, as adults, learn that from them.

What can you not live without: I should say my husband Michael or my grandchildren, but I have to admit, my makeup.

Favorite song: "Somewhere over the Rainbow"... just call my cell phone.....I played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz with the Memphis Children's Theatre when I was 11, so many many years ago....and..that has always been my most favorite song.
What excites you about waking in the morning: Just being able to create whatever I want to do with my day excites me. Sometimes, it's just lighting my candles, being quiet and listening to music or reading whatever inspires me; sometimes its looking forward to lunch with friends, or collaborating at meetings on how to improve the lives of others; and if my grandchildren are visiting ,I can't wait to share the day's activities with them. They are such tremendous fun.

Style icons: I just love to see beautiful women anywhere and at any age, especially my little granddaughter Kate, who at 6 years of age is so imaginative and creative and definite with her own personal style...and then, there's my beautiful niece Paget. Now she's a WOW.

Why is style important: Personal style is important because it's the creative expression of who you are...just like walking into your home, it tells everyone about you and your personality.

Cause that has touched your heart: Any cause that benefits women and children...and at this moment, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama. God Bless Bruce and Dolly.

If you could be anywhere in the world: I always dream of being at the One and Only Resort on Paradise Island where Michael and I spent our honeymoon, or anywhere on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Simply divine.

Favorite designers: For shoes, I love Giuseppe Zanotti, Christian Louboutin. Jimmy Choo, and of course, Stuart Weitzman. And for clothes, I adore anything Valentino! Every piece he creates is so elegant and beautiful and feminine. His fabrics are heavenly and his purses make my heart beat. I also love anything I have from Donna Karan and Armani, and whatever I buy at Gus Mayer, of course.

Most prized item of clothing and why: Without a doubt, I adore my beautiful wedding dress by Vera Wang. I was able to go to New York and be personally attended to at her bridal store on Madison Ave six years ago. It was like being in a fairytale, for sure! Most prized accessory and why: My husband Michael.
Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: Anyone who knows me knows it's my incredibly magnificent canary diamond wedding ring from Michael.....it's beyond any of my fantasies!

Comer Perry Neal, 44
Comer Neal Jewelry


What inspires you: My Family.

What can you not live without: Coffee (and my family)

Favorite song: Van Morrison's version of Brown Eyed Girl

What excites you about waking in the morning: Never knowing what will happen.

What would surprise people about you if they knew: My guilty pleasure is Watching General Hospital while I make jewelry

Style icons: Grace Kelley and Audrey Hepburn.

Why is style important: It makes us individual , it is how each one of us expresses ourselves.

Cause that has touched your heart: Humane Society.... both of our dogs are fabulous mutts!

If you could be anywhere in the world: Right this moment I would love to be on warm tropical beach.... maybe in St. Barts.

Favorite shoes: I love a good high wedge especially Tsubos.

Favorite designers: Giorgio Armani , Donna Karan, Carolina Hererra off the top of my head. They are all classic.

Most prized item of clothing and why: Armani black blazer, it fits like a dream and will always be in style.

Most prized accessory and why: I have a real scarf addiction... I wear them with absolutely everything, so I would have to say my Hermes scarves.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: A diamond and ruby bracelet that was my grandmothers. She used to let me play with it when I was little and I love that she left it to me to remind me of our times together.

Lesley DeCastro, 29
Manhattan South (www.manhattansouth.net)


What inspires you: My mother.

What can you not live without: Cassie Mae, my sweet baby blue eyed husky. We have been an inseparable team for 6 years and I can not imagine a day without her.

Favorite song: Beast of Burden by The Rolling Stones

What excites you about waking in the morning: Exciting and morning are not two words I would ever put together. My morning ritual… sit up, lie back down, sit up, lie down, then bury my head in the pillow and go back to sleep for 20 minutes. Eventually I have to be pushed out of the bed. I am getting a better though. This past month I have been taking Pure Barre at 8:15 am and am totally addicted!

What would surprise people of they knew: I have a B.S. in Management Information Systems and an MBA.

Style icons: Giselle Bündchen, Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss.

Why is style important: Style is important because it's a channel of self-expression and it is the first impression that someone gets to make. Whether we like it or not we live in a judgmental world. Many people say they do not care what others think, and they express this by not putting time into their appearance. But the truth is that we all care. Taking time to develop your own style and finding looks that flatter your body and lifestyle show to the world that you do care how you are perceived by others. If someone takes the time to develop their own personal style, this drive will more than likely be present in other areas of their life, such as family, relationships, and business.

Cause that has touched your heart: United Cerebral Palsy. I am President of The Civiettes Club, an organization with dedicated fundraising efforts to UCP, and am on the Board of Directors for UCP of Greater Birmingham. In addition to fundraising, the Civiettes provide hands on support to the two UCP centers. For the past 5 years I have been helping to provide “life without limits for people with disabilities” and it has undoubted changed my life. Helping someone that can not help themselves is a truly humbling experience, and really puts one’s priorities in check. The fashion/retail industry can sometimes become a bit egotistical, so my involvement with UCP has been a very important balance in my life.

If you could be anywhere in the world: I would be digging my toes deep in the sands of my secret beach on St. John.

Favorite shoes: My Burberry Rain Boots. In 2004 I went to London with the Samford MBA program. I was convinced that everyone in London wore them, so I begged my mother to take me to the Burberry store in Lenox Mall. On this trip to London I was introduced to the world of boutiques, which in turn led to Manhattan South. I think of this every time it rains and I am looking for puddles to deliberately splash through.

Most prized item of clothing and why: My PRVCY Skinny Jeans - I wear them at least three days a week. I have never found a pair of jeans that fit so well (lifts the booty and slims the thighs like no other!!) And they never stretch out. I do not like doing laundry and I can get 6 or 7 wears out of them before they need to be washed. And the best thing about PRVCY, a portion of proceeds go to Breast Cancer awareness (PRVCY Denim can be found at Manhattan South).

Most prized accessory and why: Many years ago my mother gave me her oldest Louis Vuitton Speedy. She purchased this bag in the 80’s while she was working at BellSouth. It was her first “big” purchase for herself. It doesn’t matter how many new LV bags I have in my closet, I always go back to this one. It reminds me how hard my mother worked to provide me with everything I could ever want and didn’t need. And honestly, the bag still looks amazing! The quality of LV is unsurpassable!

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My new black diamond ring.

Darlene Rotch, 50-ish
Panorama Public Relations


What inspires you: My work/family/nature and travel

What can you not live without: Can not live without: My family--- Would not want to live without: Fine wine, great reads

Favorite song: Brick House

Why excites you about waking in the morning: Hearing the birds outside

Style icons: Coco Chanel/Jackie Kennedy/Duchess of Windsor - Why is style important: Style is important because we’re visual creatures. It’s our calling card.

Cause that has touched your heart: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease)

If you could be anywhere in the world: Anywhere near the water.

Favorite shoes: Boots -motorcycle and cowboy Favorite designers: Badgley Mischka, Nina Ricci

Most prized item of clothing and why: My custom-made storybook coat because it tells the story of my life, and of course---it’s one of a kind.

Most prized accessory and why: My vintage Hermes scarf – because my husband purchased it for me in Paris at a fabulous shop at Rue Vieille du Temple AND my Thierry Mugler fragrance.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My engagement ring that was inspired by a family heirloom piece AND my inherited collection of cuff links.



Alexandra Townsend Wilkes, 27
Alex & Lele


What inspires you: Adventures, Love and Family, red wine, sample sales, old movies, Lady Gaga, biographies of people ahead of their time, antique cars, being a muse, Victorian jewelry, Easter, travel, Tim Burton sketches, Maxfield Parrish, the perfect yellow room, all things nautical, and coffee table books

What can you not live without: My iphone and my dog Eloise

Favorite song: Pretty much everything Liza Minnelli sings but my favorites are Maybe This Time and New York, New York.

What excites you about waking in the morning: Coffee, life would be perfect if the minute I woke up I was handed a cup. Also what the day could hold. I’m not a planner, so you never know what might happen and that really excites me. I have to look at each day in positive way because rarely I get coffee in bed.

Style icons: Rita Hayworth in Gilda is what I aspire to be, she was the essence of sensuality. Babe Paley defined effortlessly chic; by tying a scarf on the handle of her purse she started a trend that we still see today. I think she is best described by Truman Capote, “Babe Paley had only one flaw: she was perfect. Other than that she was perfect.” Amanda Brooks is a muse and someone I aspire to be. She has a great understanding of developing a personal style. She wants women to know how to dress in all styles but always looking like themselves and be authentic to who they are.

Why is style important: Your individual style lets people know who you are, like Jean Cocteau said, “style is a simple way of saying complicated things.” Everyone has style and I believe that your style is intuitive and can’t be bad, but you can have bad taste that’s truly tragic.

Cause that has touched your heart: All Animal protection and rights groups, the one I work with is CARA a no kill shelter. There are so many animals that are being mistreated and abandoned; I love helping them have a place to feel safe.

If you could be anywhere in the world: Riding a bike though the Austrian countryside in a Bottega Veneta romantic sundress and big sunglasses on my way to have a picnic.

Favorite shoes: my super high Valentino pumps with a bow on the toe, they make me feel powerful and sexy.

Favorite designers: Halston from the 70‘s and 80’s, Karl Lagerfeld in general, Marc Jacobs for everyday sundresses and purses. Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta for evening wear.

Most prized item of clothing and why: I have a bridesmaid dress from my parents wedding. It’s a Halston pattern and the perfect lavender; I wear it with a belt as a bohemian style sundress, its so forever.

Most prized accessory and why: All my bracelets, I love collecting and stacking bracelets. My favorites are my Victorian cuffs that my parents have giving me, I’m addicted to them, they have such a rich look that makes a white v-neck and jeans look chic and put together.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My Grandmother’s dog tag that is gold plated on a long chain. Against her parents wishes she joined the army and fought in WWI, where she carried the American flag in the D Day Parade in Paris. She was a huge inspiration in my life and really helped shape me in to who I am today. When I wear it I’m reminded to be strong, true to myself and use the good manners like she taught me to always have.


Brooke Parkhurst, 30
Online columnist for the New York Daily News, author and cookbook writer for Scribner Publishing


What inspires you-classic works of literature, my husband in the kitchen

What can you not live without-a fabulous dinner and a nice glass of at the end of a long work day

Favorite Song-“Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn

What excites you about waking up in the morning-lifting my daughter out of the crib and checking out her gummy smile; building my career

Style icons-Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz

Why is style important-It allows you to have fun and express yourself every day. Personal style allows everyone a little peak inside you--it allows them to see what makes you tick.

Cause that has touched your heart-Haiti and the earthquake victim relief programs
If you could be anywhere in the world-I’d be snorkeling, sunbathing and sipping cocktails with my husband at Round Hill, Jamaica

Favorite shoes-Italian leather is the best. For year ‘round wear, it’d be a pair of nude-colored high heels. 3 inches is the perfect height.

Favorite designers-Donna Karan, Alice + Olivia, Diane Von Furstenberg, Theory, Calypso

Most prized item of clothing and why-My Chloe navy blue jacquard blazer is my most prized clothing possession. My mother bought it for me for my first New York City job interview. I got the job and the blazer is an absolute classic--it’s perfect with jeans!

Most prized accessory and why-The Cartier wristwatch my husband gave me for my 30th birthday. It’s a serious watch that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. The watch makes me feel like a wife, a mother, and a working woman.

Most treasured piece of jewelry--My wedding ring, of course!

Lee Ann Brown, 45
www.glamoursurvivalguides.com


What inspires you: Nature, Art, good conversation, laughter!

What can you not live without: My family, of course.

Favorite song: I don't have one, but I love classic jazz and the standards from the Great American Songbook by artists such as Frank
Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, that whole group.

What excites you about waking in the morning: The prospect of meeting new people and sharing with them the idea that living a life of beauty and glamour is available to anyone "...anywhere, at any age, on any budget". I am really passionate about spreading that message.

What would surprise people about you if they knew: That I am really a homebody. I have been accused of being a hermit!

Style icons: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, Michele Obama

Why is style important: It is a reflection of your sense of self. (I might regret that statement on bad hair/wardrobe days!)

Cause that has touched your heart: Literacy, Cancer, and HIV/Aids. I have lost treasured friends & family to both.

If you could be anywhere in the world: Somewhere warm! But I love living in Birmingham!

Favorite shoes: I love boots!

Favorite designers: Thank goodness style has nothing to do with labels. I never pay attention to labels or designer names.

Most prized item of clothing and why: a vintage black lace dress given to me by my old friend and hair/makeup artist, that I wore in a portrait of me by my late friend, artist Alice Pederson.

Most prized accessory and why: I don't have one.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: Besides my wedding ring, of course, it would be a David Yurman heart shaped locket with my children's photos in it, given to me by my husband for an anniversary present.


Lexie Woodard Polito, 27
Business Development/Marketing for MAPP Construction, LLC


What inspires you: Girlfriends (women in general), Fashion & Music

What can you not live without: My 2 Bichon Frise’s (Tate & RJ) along with my husband (Mike) & o yea, YSL Mascara!!

Favorite song: This is a tough one…All time favorite song is Drift Away by The Doobie Brothers…. Current favorite song is Empire State of Mind by Jay Z and Alicia Keys

What excites you about waking in the morning: Going for my morning walk & Starbucks
What would surprise people about you if they knew: Something people are shocked to learn about me is I LOVE crackling (pork rinds)!

Style icons: Rachel Bilson (everyday style); Reese Witherspoon & Sarah Jessica Parker (Red carpet style icons)

Why is style important: Style is so important to me because it is an extension of my personality. It is my opportunity to be creative each and every day. It is a way I can express myself.

Cause that has touched your heart: Rock-N-CHAIRity. I serve on a committee that puts together a fund raiser to raise money for Woman’s Hospital. Local artist design chairs that are auctioned off to people in the community. The money raised from the event benefits baby centered programs at Woman’s Hospital. Such as if a new mother does not have enough money to buy a car seat, this program will provide her one.

If you could be anywhere in the world: New York City with my husband, family, and closest friends. A close second would be on a ski boat

Favorite shoes: Hot pink patent Jimmy Choo sandals (Dress); Loeffler Randal over the knee boots (every day)

Favorite designers: Where do I begin? I am somewhat of a clothes junkie. However, most of my closet consist of: DVF, Trina Turk, Theory, Alice+Olivia, Black Halo. My favorite high end designer is Chanel.

Most prized item of clothing and why: This item changes with the seasons but a few of my faves are Paige skinny leg jeans because they go with everything and you can go anywhere in them; Vintage sequin butterfly cape because it is so unique and it does not go out of style; Alice+Olivia “tinkerbell” dress (silver sequins with white tutu) because it is the ultimate party girl dress.

Most prized accessory and why: I have 2…my black berry because it keeps me in constant communication with family, friends, and work. Black Chanel purse, a fabulous birthday gift my husband gave me.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: I have two pieces of jewelry I treasure. One being my wedding/engagement ring because it reminds me every day of something very special. Second would be a Tiffany heart locket with a black and white picture of my dad inside. My dad gave my sister and I this locket one year for Christmas. I have never changed the picture inside.

Lauren Bricken, 29
Transcendent Beauty


What inspires you: Color, The Beach, Art, The creativity of other artists--painters and make-up artists.

What can you not live without: Mascara
Favorite song: Whatever It Takes--Michael Buble

What excites you about waking in the morning: The people I get to meet.

Style icons: Grace Kelly

Why is style important: It shows a person's personality and their individual flair for life and beauty.

Cause that has touched your heart: Feminine Hearts Alive

If you could be anywhere in the world: New Zealand

Favorite shoes: Betsey Johnson Espadrilles

Favorite designers: Betsey Johnson, Juicy Couture, JBrand Jeans

Most prized item of clothing and why: Gray wool coat--fitted and with frills on the neckline and sleeves. Every time I wear it I have at least 4 people ask me where I found it. My answer, "So sorry, my boyfriend gave it to me and found it in some small boutique in NYC."

Most prized accessory and why: My grandmother vintage Louis Vouitton. It tells a story.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: A pearl choker strung with leather. I love it because it's so shabby chic for a day in the country.

Shannon Simpson Riley, 38
One Stop Environmental, LLC


What inspires you: Knowing that I have the opportunity to impact someone’s life each day. I am thankful that both through work and family I have many opportunities each day. I feel success when in some manner I have made a positive impact.

What can you not live without: my husband and kids

Favorite song: Wild at Heart – Gloriana – This was our family vacation theme song last summer as we camped and fished our way around Montana.

What excites you about waking in the morning: My four kids. (Griffin 11, James 10, Harris 7, Reagan 4) Each of them have such a different personality. We eat breakfast together each morning and are typically wide awake, laughing, dancing and chasing the dogs before heading out the door to school. I never drink coffee!

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I can operate a back-hoe.

Style icons: Elle McPhereson was who I always watched when I was little and Jennifer Anniston.

Why is style important: It shows your personality

Cause that has touched your heart: Woodlawn, AL. The community in which One Stop is located and has dedicated time and resources to improving the lives around us. In the process it has also improved who we are.

If you could be anywhere in the world: Ennis, Montana

Favorite shoes: My Donald Pliner tall boots. I bought them in New Orleans on a trip with my Husband, so not only are they comfortable, but they have some nice memories attached.

Favorite designers: I am a jeans person. My favorites are 7 for all Mankind and Lucky Brand T-shirts.

Most prized item of clothing and why: An embroidered vest I bought in Taos, NM when I worked at Los Alamos National Labs in Los Alamos, NM. I don’t think I would wear it anywhere today, but that piece represents a neat time in my life.

Most prized accessory and why: The Rolex watch my husband gave me when One Stop was finally paid in full by New Orleans for the work we had performed after Hurricane Katrina. (Almost $2M over 2 years after all work completed) It represents the challenges and risks taken by an entrepreneur. The hard work it takes to see those risks become good risks. And the many times God has seen One Stop through a storm that should have ended it all.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: my engagement ring – Richard and I met at age 14 and flirted until we started dating at age 17. I had wanted to be his wife and take his last name for many years, even before he asked. So far he has given me a special band every 5 years of our marriage. I keep stacking them with my wedding rings and when my kids ask about them I just tell them they are to constantly remind me how much their Daddy loves me.

Aimee Mars, 28
Sara Claire & Esther


Inspiration: My Grandmother

Can't live without: First thought was my Husband, but second thought is cupcakes

Song: Sweet Home Alabama

Waking up in the morning: That I get to do what I love, our business, that day

Surprise if people knew: I can't stand playing board games, card games, charades etc!

Style icons: Gweneth Paltrow

Why is style important: It brings out the confidence within...

Cause that has touched your heart: Saving the Garment district in NYC. So many of our factories are being forced out because the landlords are raising the rent.

Anywhere in the world: on a beach - anyone, doesn't matter!

Shoes: Patent leather heels - all kinds.

Designers: Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen

Prized item of clothes: My Great Grandmother's hand made mink stole, because it's a piece of my families history.

Prized accessory: my Wedding ring (I guess this would answer the last question too).

Sara Caroline Jordan, 27
Sara Claire and Esther

What inspires you: my sweet grandma Sara Claire, antiques, lace, history, flea markets, trinkets, attics, old pictures

What can you not live without: the perfect shade of red lipstick

Favorite song: "Stars fell on Alabama" my grandpa used this song to court Sara Claire!

Why excites you about waking in the morning: knowing that I am pursuing my dreams and getting up each day to work on something I love.

What would surprise people about you if they knew: I am the middle child of 3 sisters. Not the typical middle child personality.... or so most think.

Style icons: Betty Davis, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth

Why is style important: It is a way to express who you are, without fashion the world would be a boring place!

Cause that has touched your heart: Saving the garment district. All of our production is made in NYC and our factories are being pushed out of the garment district due to rising rent. Aimee and I feel strongly about keeping everything domestic and supporting these factories so they can stay in business.

If you could be anywhere in the world: on the shore of Capri in Italy.

Favorite shoes: my nude patent leather pumps. They seriously go with anything.

Favorite designers: Chloe, Carolina Herrera, Chanel

Most prized item of clothing and why: the perfect black pencil skirt. It is flattering to everyone and can transition from day to night.

Most prized accessory and why: my vintage pearl clutch from a flea market, never goes out of style.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: my grandmothers brooch. It reminds me of her and spices up any basic outfit.


Gary Mark Wright, 46
Self-Employed, Consulting


What inspires you: I am inspired by music--and it can run the range--from a melancholy tune to a techno pulse. Music moves me!

What can you not live without: A wonderful dog in my life.

Favorite song: As I said, music inspires me EVERY day. So, a favorite song would be difficult to name. Varies from time to time. "For Good" from the Broadway smash WICKED has been some of my favorite lyrics from the last decade. It's a beautiful portrayal of real friendship. Also, a song "Grateful" (lyrics by John Bucchino) is right up there. It's all about being thankful for whatever comes our way.

Why excites you about waking in the morning: It seems I've always been fortunate to have had a career and "day-job" that always brings surprises and unknown twists each day. To know that as I begin each day I can select projects that I enjoy, with people I adore, and bring together some creativity and fun--well, it doesn't get much better.
What would surprise people about you if they knew: Hmmm, too many surprises to name. Probably best to keep it that way!

Style icons: Cary Grant, Robert Redford

Why is style important: Style is certainly not about a fashion trend. Style gives each one of us a chance to express our individuality.

Cause that has touched your heart: WAGS (Wonderful Animals Giving Support)--matches terminally-ill children with their wish for a dog. I had the honor of founding this organization iin 1991, there's nothing as healing or full of unconditional love as a wonderful dog.

If you could be anywhere in the world: For the last twenty years or so, my work has kept me traveling often more than I am at home. So, I've learned to find the places I enjoy tucked away in cities--both large and small. From La Jolla, CA to Portland, Maine, there are treasures awaiting (filled with AMAZING FRIENDS). I'm really at home wherever I am but if I had to choose somewhere right now--Lake Como, Italy would work just fine.

Favorite shoes: Prada Lace-Up Oxfords (dress); Mark Nason Side-Zip Boot (Casual)

Favorite designers: Hugo Boss, Giorgio Armani

Most prized item of clothing and why: Right now, it's a vintage leather jacket that transitions well as I travel through different climates. Plus, thrown in a pair of Mastermind Distressed Jeans. Jacket / jeans work well for a night out in the city--any city!

Most prized accessory: Blackberry count? If not, can't say that I have a most prized; however, I enjoy collecting colorful ties and socks--two components of men's fashion that allows for some expression.

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: I'm not a big personal jewelry person--no rings, no watches, no bling; however, love to collect cuff links. Some of my favorites include those designed by David Yurman and Jan Leslie. Love searching through some out-of-the-way shops in Soho in NYC to find unusual links--there's a story behind each pair!


Alexa Jones, 28
WIAT-TV CBS 42, Anchor, Wake Up Alabama


What inspires you: Art ALWAYS...I was an art history master's student at UAB & interned at MoMA...

What can you not live without: Sunglasses. Period.

Favorite song: Currently, "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z.

What excites you about waking up in the morning: That I get to wake up everyone else! I wake up on weekdays around 2 AM so I have to catch up everyone else!

What would surprise people about you if they knew: My family has a pine tree farm in South AL...I'm a bit of a farmer with quite the green thumb!

Style icons: Grace Kelly, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, and random rock 'n rollers on the street who clearly know what they're doing.

Why style is important: No matter if you're running errands, hitting the town or at work...style is the banner you carry. It's a visual cue of your personality.

Cause that has touched your heart: Autism is on the rise at an alarming rate around the country--any couple in my generation runs a high risk of having a baby that will be diagnosed. I joined the junior board of the Autism Society of Alabama to help raise awareness and join in the search for it's genesis.

If you could be anywhere in the world: San Fran! Behind Manhattan, it's my favorite city!

Favorite shoes: Do I have to choose??? Essentially every pair of stilettos in my closet...I'm a shoe junkie.

Favorite designers: Nicole Miller, Cavalli, McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana (best suits ever!)

Most prized item of clothing & why: I have a red Cavalli dress I'm crushing on right now. It's just a hot number.

Most treasured piece of jewelry & why: Two Valentines ago my parents gave me a beautiful vintage ring that was one of my grandmother's diamonds in my great grandmother's setting. I wear it everyday!


Meg Cook, 26
Owner, Meg Cook-Interior Stylist


What inspires you: Oh dear, now that's a loaded question!! I am inspired by Devon, my best friend & Fiance & the life we will share, by what I have always dreamed I would become & the road that takes me there, by my beautiful family & my Mother that I remember daily & the career goals we had mapped out for me :) I am also strangely & immensely inspired by the great unknown.

What can you not live without: My Faith, Fiance, Family, & Friends...and of course the obvious necessities such as food, water, and shelter :)

Favorite song: My Sweet Lord by George Harrison, but really any Beatles music

What excites you about waking in the morning: Coffee with flavored creamer & actually having a moment to sit & sip; I don't like to drink on the run. Then figuring out the day that is awaiting :)

What would surprise people about you if they knew: That I can speak some Kiswahili.

Style icons: I have a wide span, from ladies such as Audrey Hepburn (cliche, I know) to Angelina Jolie

Why is style important: It is the cover of the book that you are, and whether you want to believe it or not, that is important. People make judgements based on initial impressions, and it is always good to put your best self forward, inside & out. Your style is part of your definition.

Cause that has touched your heart: Support for people in third world countries who have never known the comforts & safety that we experience daily without even thinking about it.

If you could be anywhere in the world: So Many!!!! But, to choose one, I would have to go with somewhere along eastern Africa...maybe the island of Zanzibar (Spice Island)

Favorite shoes: What kind of a question is this!? So many shoes, so little time!!!! Okay, hmmm... Frye boots (in heels or flats).

Favorite designers: Linda Loudermilk, Nicole Miller, Michael Kors, & Free People (although, I must admit that some of my favorite finds are of brands that I have never heard of and inexpensive; the random ones are truly the best)

Most prized item of clothing and why: At this moment, the wedding dress that I purchased today - strapless, ivory mermaid without embellishments, so elegant!!

Most prized accessory and why: sunglasses & a light scarf to make the most informal ensemble become fashion forward; it's an easy fix :)

Most treasured piece of jewelry and why: My Dear Mother's estate engagement ring; it is sentimental, not to mention beautiful.


Sara Treleaven Blakely, 37
Spanx, founder
Atlanta


What inspires you: I’ve been listening to motivational speaker Wayne Dyer since I was 16. His series “How to be a no-limit person” really helped me visualize the life I wanted from an early age. I’m also inspired and motivated by the opportunity to help other women.

What can you not live without: My ipod. I can’t live without music, and it goes everywhere with me.

Favorite song: Oh that’s a tough one… I can tell you I have a good luck take off song that I listen to every time I’m on a plane. Mark Knopfler’s “What it is”.
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