Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Anna: Connecting the Disconnected

Dear friends and readers, I am excited to start the new year of my blogging life with a new round of interviews, and introduce you to Anna. If you, like me, weren't familiar with Anna's blog Melodic, Thrifty & Chic, then you are definitely in for a treat. And if you know this whimsical, one of a kind blogger from the US, then you still are in for a treat - I think you'll find our conversation with Anna fun and stimulating. 
Anna, thank you for playing along and making your wonderful contribution to the symphony of unique voices reflecting on style as a creative process. 

One of the most surprising things to learn about you, Anna, was that you dreamed of becoming a lawyer since the age of 6 years old. (And you worked hard and fulfilled your dream too!) But most kids want to become ballerinas or fire fighters at this age. How did such an unusual for a young child dream come about?

Honestly, it was something that my father encouraged me to do. I remember him giving me this huge tome that had "You and the Law" written in large print. I was too young to understand the text, but I guess I just took the hint and ran with it.  ;) Haha.

You mentioned in one of your posts that putting an outfit together is like being a designer, but working with ready pieces (it's not a quote, but I hope I grasped the essence of what you wrote). I must agree with you that it is exactly how I feel about having a unique style. It isn't just the skill to put things together nicely - it's expressing an idea, or a feeling through clothes. How would you describe the ideas you express with your style?

I would say that, for me, it's akin to creating a painting. You know, you want the colors to blend the right way. You want certain things to be positioned in a certain way. Sometimes, you color outside the lines. Other times, you use unconventional shapes. At the end of the day, you strive to create something that represents you and you try to be as interesting and as creative as you can. You hope that people will see the message you tried to convey, but even if they don't see it or if they happen to misinterpret it, that's OK. I guess what I'm saying is: as long as I set out to create what I had envisioned and I accomplished that task (more or less), then I'm happy.

I think your outfits are equally interesting in every season, which to me is surprising, because most of us have favorite seasons when we feel inspired, and seasons when we feel kind of blah. Do you have a favorite season - or do you genuinely appreciate them all? What makes each fashion season fascinating to you?

Oh, that's very kind of you to say. Thank you! ^_^ Hmm. I think Fall has become my favorite season. I love earth tones and it's the season of dark browns, forest greens and mustard yellows. I just can't get enough of that. Also, I love layering. So, I get the best of both worlds. :P Winter and Spring are kind of the worst for me, fashion-wise, because it's difficult for me to create aesthetically interesting outfits, while also trying to keep warm (and avoid looking overly frumptastic).  I think that will always be a struggle for me, but I am fascinated by people's ability to master fashion without sacrificing warmth during those times. I'm not the best at minimalist fashion, so Summer is kind of an Achilles Heel for me, also. I have to apply myself a lot more in the Summer months than any other time of year. I find it difficult to be interesting while wearing just a tee and shorts or a dress. It takes a special skill that I just haven't completely mastered, yet. Hehe.

With your "serious" line of work, do you have a chance to dress expressively on a daily basis, or must you dress conservatively for your job? Do you have any pointers for people who feel stuck with conservative dressing?

I was lucky, in this regard. My first job out of law school was a judicial clerkship. It dealt with administrative law and it was a city government position. So, things were pretty laid back in the office. I wore tees and jeans and biked to and from work, everyday. The only time I had to wear a suit was when there was a court hearing scheduled and that was maybe six times a year. Now, I teach law to international students and I still have a pretty laid back style and I still bike to work. Hehe. I just switched the tees and jeans for nice dresses and blouse-skirt combos (things that are easy to bike in, but still look pretty dressy).

For people who happen to be in more conservation environments, I would recommend trying to be as creative as you can within the parameters that you have to work with. For example, if you have to wear a skirt suit, everyday, then try playing around with patterns and color blocking (but only do what you can get away with---I realize some environments are stuffier and more sterile than others). Also, if you find that you have very little wiggle room at work, then wear the monkey suit, but let it all hang out when you leave. :D Assuming that you can let your hair down a bit for happy hour, do that. Hehe. If you can only dress up on the weekends, then do that. Take it wherever you can get it. :D

Did you ever think about becoming a fashion designer?

Oh, no. Haha. I've had people say that I could and that I should, but no. I know my limitations and I know that I'm much better at planning an outfit than creating one from raw materials.

When did your interest in style and fashion first appear? Do you remember the first outfit you consciously put together?

I don't think I had ever really been super interested in style and fashion until much later in life. So, probably 5 years ago. I mean, I think the most creative thing that I would do when I was in my late teens and early 20's was wear jeans with a dress/skirt. I remember that freaking people the hell out. Now, it's no big deal. Haha. But yeah, I think that I started to really care about what I was doing when I started my blog. It forced me to evaluate my choices and look at my outfits with a more critical eye.

Have you ever had a desire to copy someone else's outfit? Do you have any style icons?

Unconsciously, yes. Probably. I think we all have an outfit or two that kind of sits at the back of our minds. We don't remember where exactly we saw the outfit, but we somehow channel that image while getting dressed. That being said, I try very hard to avoid copying another person's look. Instead, I try to look for ways to take the things that I liked about the look and incorporate them into an entirely new outfit. I've talked about my thoughts regarding inspiration and imitation on my blog: :DDD

As for style icons, there are a few people who I've been watching lately. The list constantly oscillates depending on what I'm looking for, but Jessi Barber is a recent favorite ( When I'm looking for inspiration and pointers as far as how to do minimalism well, I look to Jessi.

You studied in Japan and are proficient in Japanese, another unusual thing about you. Do you think living in Japan affected your sense of style?

Definitely. When I was there, I saw so many style choices that would have made people go insane back home. Haha. I found myself feeling like a fool for thinking that jeans with a skirt, for example, was outside the box. I realized that there was a hell of a lot more that I could be doing, but that I just didn't feel comfortable or free to do so. A lot of that had to do with my upbringing and the fact that I went to very religious and conservative schools. Anyway, my time in Japan really showed me that I wasn't truly living and that it wasn't too late to start. If the Japanese people I saw and met were able to find ways to creatively express themselves in a largely conservative and homogeneous environment, then I had little excuse, really. Bring on the bright colors and clashing patterns. :D

I see in your outfits, the passionate and bold desire to connect the disconnected, to mix the often unmixable, which can create both a conflict (or dissonance), and a harmony. I see it in referring to both the past and the future in your outfits, finding beauty in ultra feminine and boldly masculine, and also ambiguously androgynous; in creating sweet and romantic outfits as well as dark and drastically dramatic; in wanting to layer whether it is cold or hot outside. Do you see yourself as a "connector of the disconnected" in life as well?

Wow. You have a way with words, lady. Haha. My goodness. Thank you! I want to answer affirmatively, but honestly, there's a lot that I don't have figured out about my own life that it would be difficult for me to be a "connector of the disconnected" for anyone. I'm basically just kinda floating through life, accidentally bumping into people, animals and inanimate objects and saying, 'sorry, not sorry.'

One of the strongest impressions about your style is that there are two style personalities at play, and one is an old soul from the old world, while another is a strange visitor from the future. How do these sides of you coexist in your day to day life? Are you interested in both history and futuristic novels, movies etc.? What are some of your favorite authors and works? 

I think this duality largely plays out in my style choices. The latter is heavily influenced by fantasy and sci-fi novels and movies. I've never been much of a history buff and I don't usually enjoy period pieces. It depends on the era and the content of the story. Right now, I'm in the process of finishing up The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I'm on Book 13 of 14. Almost there! :D After that, I look forward to starting the Game of Thrones series and finally getting to the Takeshi Kovacs novels by Richard K. Morgan.

There is also a strong juxtaposition of Feminine vs. Masculine, and both of them vs. Androgynous. Do you think most of us have both feminine and masculine features, but we got used to thinking conservatively about it, or is it rather unique to feel both ways?

I can't speak for other people, though I believe it's largely subjective. For me, there are days when I feel like a dude and days when I feel feminine. Hehe. I just try to embrace those feelings rather than pretend that they're not there. Thus, I feel most comfortable with my full on androgynous looks, because I don't really have to feel like I'm choosing a side. I can just be perfectly neutral and free. There's something really wonderful about that.

You were probably named the Queen of Layering (or something like it) numerous times. While layering is something that many find attractive, it can also be intimidating to pull it off. You do it so naturally. What are some tips you could share with someone who is a rookie at it?

Oh. Haha. Thank you! Yes, people have called me that and every time I can't help but wonder if there's a hint of sarcasm there. Hehe. It's hard for me to take a compliment, though. I'm still mastering that art. At any rate, I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I appreciate that it appears as if I layer naturally. Sometimes, the layering comes naturally, but much of the time it's the product of constant trial and error.

It's hard to know what kind of advice to give without knowing the person's overall objectives and comfort level. I guess I would say, if you're the kind of person who thinks wearing a blouse tucked into a skirt is layering, then doing something as simple as layering a skirt over a dress or a sweater over a dress would be a good start. I think that would be sufficiently radical. Heh. Once you get used to those options (i.e. they become normal or second nature to you or just plain boring), then you can move on to more complex layering. It all really depends on what your typical style is and how far you're willing to go to deviate from that. Have patience, though. You will almost certainly get it wrong without realizing. This happens to me quite a bit. Just keep going! Trial and error. :P

I couldn't help but noticing that on your blog you often describe the process of styling as something you think about. Yet the result strikes me as artistic, which to me is an intuitive process at the core. What role does intuition play in your creativity?

This is a really good question. Intuition is such an untenable thing. It's hard to put this answer into words. I guess all I can say is that there are times when you just *feel* like you've done something right. Though, sometimes that feeling is dead wrong. Haha. That's the difficulty and the challenge with fashion. It's this intuition that we rely upon when we pair colors and prints and when we try to decide whether to add another bracelet or wear that polka dot bow tie. Is it too much? Am I missing something? Etc. The goal, therefore, is to actually *be* right from an objective standpoint on those days when you subjectively *feel* right and for those instances to outweigh the ones in which your subjective feelings are disconnected from objective reality. ;) I think the only way to hone that intuition is through constant practice and self evaluation. After awhile, you start to develop a knack for what works and what doesn't.

What are some of the things that inspire you to create? Do you have favorite sources to go to when you feel uninspired? (Places, people, books, etc.)

I've found that inspiration can come from anywhere and arrive at any time. It could come from colors occurring naturally (say, a flower bush I saw while on a walk or Fall leaves lining the street). It could come from music (either the lyrics or instruments). It could come from nothing more than a feeling (happiness, sadness, excitement). In all of those cases, my creativity and intuitive skills are at an all time high and I do my best work. When I'm feeling particularly uninspired, I'll browse a Pinterest board that I've been curating over the last few years. It contains color palettes (like actual paint swatches for home decorating), objects (like vintage cars in all kinds of colors), styles from bloggers and fashion models and even my own past outfits that I believe could inspire new outfits of the same type or color scheme.

When feeling uninspired, what do you usually choose: wear an old trusty favorite outfit, wear whatever is there, wear something to "blend in" and feel invisible, or challenge yourself to create something exciting, hoping that in the process of creating the inspiration comes? or something else?

I think the answer to this depends on whether I'm going to show the outfit on my blog. Haha. I've blogged quite a few outfits that I considered to be "phoned in" or "off day" outfits. Generally, I try to showcase my best work, though. So, if the outfit is going on my blog and I was uninspired at the time, then I'd do everything in my power to make the outfit exciting, interesting and representative of me. If the outfit is not going on my blog, then I'll basically put something together that I like, but that I don't really think is worthy of undue admiration. Heh. I've been known to wear the same t-shirt and jeans like two days out of the week. Haha. It's whatever, really. Everyone needs a break at some point, right? :P

I am eager to see which ways your art of dressing will grow in the future. One thing I know for sure it won't be boring. How do you see yourself and your style in, say, 5 or 10 years?

Hmm. I'd like to think that it would be largely the same, but improved. By that, I mean, I would still be doing casual, futuristic, dark, androgynous, quirky, twee, feminine/masculine, post-apocalyptic, granny chic, hipster type stuff. However, I will have become better at those styles (hopefully). They would be more refined, more on-point, more impactful, more successful. :DDD

Thank you for this interview, Natalia. I have to say that I've done quite a few of these and this is the first time that I've felt that my interviewer knew me better than I knew myself. Haha. I'm so impressed by your ability to understand me through my outfits and the words I throw together alongside them. I can only hope that all of my readers are as insightful, inquiring and as astute an observer as you!

Anna's blog HERE

Other interviews HERE


  1. wow!
    thank you natalia for introducing me to anna!! totally love her style! colors, shapes, patterns, layering - just perfect but never stuffy. very cool!

    1. I am so pleased that I helped you to discover this gem of a style. :)

  2. such an amazing lady!, I'm loving her style and lovely personality!
    thanks for sharing

  3. Ohhh thank you natalia. So many different looks. I love it.

  4. I love her style-polished, yet soft, warm, but with edge. You have the neatest friends Natalia! My favorite outfit combo was the black and white hounds tooth coat with the mustardy sweater and black/dark gray skirt. Stunning!

    1. Glad you enjoyed Anna's style, Sam! She is fantastic!

  5. What a stylish young lady! Interesting interview, Natalia, really enjoyed reading it!

    1. So happy that you enjoyed the interview, Olga - it was fun to work on it!

  6. Thank you for introducing Anna. I especially enjoy her colder weather looks as I love to layer clothes too:)

    1. Yes, those are my favorites too! Although Anna's Summer looks are never boring either!

  7. Thank you, Natalia, for this interview. I love Anna's style, and greedy little oinker that I am, am thrilled to know more about her! Her outfits are always startling in the best possible way, and I can almost see her brain vibrating with her exceptional, exciting presentations. Heh. I also love how she slides up and down the spectrums of style founded on concepts of gender and time. So free!! Thanks again.

    1. I am delighted to help you to get to know Anna a little better, Melanie. I also admire her freedom!

  8. I am so glad you introduced this extraordinary artist to me- trained in law, yet open to her rare artistic talent!
    That turquoise and orange outfit, Heavens! So lush. I love her "work", her gift!
    thanks for sharing!
    xx, Elle

    1. Yes, Anna is a true Artist! Glad you enjoyed the interview, Elle.

  9. Natalia, I am forever indebted to your eloquence. Thank you for reading my blog with such inquisitiveness and care. It means a lot to me. Thank you, thank you! <3

    - Anna

    1. Anna, it was my pleasure to work on this interview! It was very hard to pick only a few photos, so at the end I've decided to include more vs. less. :) You are amazingly talented, and also amazingly appreciative - thank YOU for that! I am deeply touched.

  10. I love Anna's's so unique that I have this feeling thank I could immediately spot an outfit she put together. It was great fun reading this interview!

    1. I am so happy that you enjoyed this piece, Ivana. Anna is such a gem!