Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sheena: Color, Pattern, Globe

My dear friends and readers, 
I am delighted to introduce you to Sheena of I Am She Global who I am sure will brighten your day with her unique mosaic of playful outfits, inspired by world cultures, bold colors and patterns. I find Sheena's approach to style refreshingly lighthearted, and her thoughts on unleashing one's creativity encouraging and uplifting. I hope you'll enjoy this post as much as I did composing it.

Sheena, just one look at your blog, and I get a joyful smile on my face. The clashes of patterns and splashes of bright colors remind me of the Indian Festival of Colors - when people throw colorful pigments in the air and at each other. What do colors mean to you? How do they make you feel?

That makes me so happy to hear and what an honor that it reminds you of India as that is a country that has greatly influenced my love of color.  I didn't fully embrace color until about 4-5 years ago and now virtually everything I own is bright and colorful.  To me color is expressive and can tell stories. Wearing color is an outward reflection of what's inside me. I remember traveling through Rajasthan in India which is a dry, arid northern part of the country and I was so taken aback by the bold, bright, brilliant colors that every single woman was wearing. I felt like they did not let their desert environment determine their dress, instead they opted to shine against the monotone background.  It was a powerful moment for me when I realized the power of color and how it taps into a deeper part of oneself.  To me, color is a visual expression of life. A medium by which to show joy, sadness, power, defiance, celebration and creativity.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, or do you love them all equally?

There isn't a color I won't entertain but I do have those that I gravitate towards. I love orange in all shades.  I especially love it paired with blue, either cobalt blue with bright orange or russet with turquoise. That combination reminds me of earth and has a balance that I am drawn to over and over.

I know that you travel the world. What countries have you already visited? What countries are on your list to visit in the near future?

I have visited 31 countries so far and few of them I have visited more than once, like Egypt, Mexico and India. My upcoming travels are taking me to Spain, Italy, France, Greece & Romania.  I haven't been to South America yet and would really love to.

Is there a country or a region that you enjoy especially? Did visiting them affect your sense of style?

Every place affects the traveler in a different way but there are a few places that have really stolen my heart. My visit to Kenya in 2006 was life changing. Being on Kenyan soil, I felt as though I was home, in a way that I can't fully put into words. I had many magical experiences when I was there and it will forever hold a very special place in my heart. India is another country that I am mesmerized by. It's chaotic and ancient, bustling, rich with tradition and it leaves me so fulfilled and simultaneously wanting more every time I visit. I would say these countries definitely affected my sense of style. African textiles, beadwork and shapes are extremely influential in my wardrobe as is color and the use of adornments which I revere in the Indian culture.

When I look at traditional cultures, one thing that strikes me is that folk costumes have always featured both bright colors and pattern mixes. I can't help but wonder - what happened, when did we as society stopped enjoying bright colors and generous fanciful details? How do you answer these questions to yourself?

I think in many parts of the world the use of bright colors and patterns is still prevalent and from traveling to different countries I am reminded of this. I think the Western world as a whole has embraced a neutral fashion palette. I often hear people say, "Oh, I love that color, but I could never wear it", says who?? I think there is some sense of safety in blending in but I feel fashion is a medium that we can use to express our individual selves and what does that say about our society that we want to be like everyone else. For some people, their happy place IS wearing black everyday and more power to them. I just would love for those that are afraid or too tired or don't feel creative enough, to take a chance and wear that piece of clothing that they are little intimidated by, but secretly love. This practice of embracing color and pattern, started my journey of embracing myself and owning my confidence.

Folk costumes have deep meaning - every color and every little detail has its own place. Do you put any particular meaning into your ensembles? Is your intention to create a visually striking outfit? Or maybe to express a certain feeling, mood or idea?

I am a lover of details and believe the art of constructing a cohesive ensemble is in the layering. Like a painter layers each color and texture on a canvas, I am less driven by conveying a meaning and more so interested in creating an artistic piece on the canvas that is my body. I am inspired by different things on different days.  My outfit may be inspired by a piece of clothing or jewelry or the event I am attending that day. I am most often inspired by one item's color or pattern and then build the entire outfit around that piece.

What stimulated your interest to mixing colors and patterns in the first place?

The colors and patterns I was seeing all over the world resonated with me so much and looking at them made me feel alive and happy so I wanted to have that feeling everyday. I remember so clearly a few years ago I saw a woman in a magazine wearing mixed prints and I loved the look so much but I felt like I could never pull that off. I wouldn't even know where to start!  I cut out that picture and taped it into a notebook as inspiration and committed to at least trying.  Who knew a few years later my entire wardrobe would be prints!

What would be your advice to those who'd like to experiment with mixing patterns and wearing bright colors, but maybe feel a little unsure as to where to begin?

I am definitely on the extreme end of the scale with print mixing and wearing vibrant colors but I didn't start off that way. I would recommend to try one item at a time. Instead of a white t-shirt and jeans, wear a yellow shirt or one with a pattern. Instead of black flats wear leopard print. Or if pattern mixing, start with traditional prints like stripes, polka dots, florals. They are more familiar and you won't feel like you are jumping into the deep end. This should hopefully eliminate some of that hesitancy. Ultimately, don't take it too seriously, have fun and wear items you love and you'll rock it!

Are there (or were there in the past) any role models or style icons that influence your style?

In the past I can't really say there were any as I hadn't started my fashion journey but today I absolutely love Iris Apfel. She is unapologetic with her style. Big, bold, colorful, it all goes.  I feel a connection with her and her interior design background and how her travels inspired her.  I also have a degree in interior design and have an immense passion for travel and culture.  I think for both of us, design, color and creativity heavily influence our personal style.

Your style is very eclectic, but I sense a strong 1980s vibe in many of your outfits. I feel like you are inspired by the boldness of the 80s. Is it so? Do you have a favorite fashion period?

I never saw that but it makes total sense as I am a child of the 80s. I used to make fun of my mom's huge earrings and now I'm wearing those same earrings!  I am not afraid of being bold or standing out or having people look at me. I am driven by wanting to wear something that no one else will be wearing. I want to be unique. Not everyone will like it and that's OK. How I dress is reflection of my journey and no one else's.  While I don't wear the styles, I very much love the 1920s. The details, the layers and textures were so beautiful, elegant and show stopping!

On a day to day basis, how do you come to decisions about what to wear? Is it rather a practical approach (weather, occasion, etc.) or an intuitive or "moody" approach (your mood dictates your choice, for instance)?

I guess sometimes it's practical, though rarely! It's as though my closet is my art studio and it's contents are my art supplies. I let a shirt or necklace or pattern be my starting point and build on that. I try on layers and take them off. I change my shoes, belt and bags. I keep adjusting until it feels good and I make sure it's always a bit unexpected.

What do you do if you don't feel particularly inspired? Do you have trusty style tricks to fall on?

I definitely don't get all dressed up every day. I work from home so my go to is comfort. I like to wear a dress or jumpsuit because it's an outfit in one piece. You can throw on sandals and purse and go. It doesn't require much thought. Creativity can't be forced and some days you need something easy to wear.

What role do accessories play in your approach to style? Are they something you throw on after you already put together an outfit, or they are the beginning point?

Accessories are the most important element in my wardrobe. I feel very strongly that accessories are the item that elevates an outfit. I have a huge collection of scarves and bags. I love hats and head wraps and my jewelry collection is extensive. Except for my wedding ring all my jewelry is costume and/or purchased in other countries. I am very thoughtful with my accessory selection. It is not an afterthought for me. Each piece is selected with color, texture and scale in mind to enhance and compliment my outfit. One of my favorite styling tricks is layering my accessories. I love layering necklaces, stacking bangles and doubling up my belts. Accessories are really where you can make your outfit unique.

You wear a lot of pieces that are potential conversation starters. Do you ever experience any negativity from people you encounter when you wear your colorful outfits, or it's mostly a positive reaction?

I'm all about a conversation starter as I love meeting new people and sharing a moment together. I can count a couple of times where people have made unkind remarks about my outfits but that is so heavily outweighed by the amount of positive responses I have received. When a young girl walked up to me at the grocery store to say she liked my outfit it made my heart smile. Or when I inspire a fellow woman to go outside her "fashion" comfort zone and try something new, it makes me happy. We are here to encourage one another and you never know who you are inspiring.

Additionally, if someone comments on a necklace I am wearing that gives me the opportunity to share about where it's from and who made it and why it's special. It's all an opportunity for connection and growth and greater understanding.

I know my style is not for everyone and that is completely OK. We are each entitled to express ourselves in a way that feels good to us. I don't expect everyone to love how I dress. I only hope that we can be accepting and encouraging of each other living our happiest lives and expressing our true selves in whatever way feels most authentic to us.

Is there any difference in how your bold outfits are perceived in different countries? What is the reaction in Asia compared to Europe, and compared to the USA?

I like to consider where I am visiting when I pack my outfits. I let the destination inspire me with what patterns, textures and colors I choose. I was asked in Guatemala last year, if my outfit was the traditional dress of another country and that made me smile. I thought, yes, traditional dress from the "Land of Sheena", population: 1.

I think how it's received would depend on where I am. In western countries the bright colors and patterns will stand out but in West Africa or Central America, the bright colors and patterns would fit right in. I always want to be respectful of where I am visiting and definitely take that into consideration while still being true to my sense of style. Like a style chameleon, I adjust accordingly without forgetting who I am.

As an experienced world traveler, what would you advise people who struggle with their travel wardrobe? How do you pack, say, for a week in Asia?

Well, I am confessed reformed over packer so I have learned a lot of lessons by doing it wrong for a long time. I would say, first consider your destination, the customs, the weather and what may be appropriate for where you are visiting (i.e. needing to be more covered for religious sites, or bathing suits for a tropical destination). Then think layers and pieces you can mix and match. That doesn't mean you have to wear solid colors just make sure you can put together multiple outfits with the pieces you take. A lightweight scarf is the transformer of travel accessories so I highly recommend that.  You can always purchase accessories where you are visiting and ultimately you don't need half of what you think you do.

Packing is a process for me but worth the time I spend planning. I select my outfits, down to shoes and accessories and lay them all out before packing in my bag. By compiling the outfits ahead of time you won't take anything extra you don't need. I have also come to appreciate the freedom of movement, through airports, taxis, hotels, when I have one compact bag rather than a bunch of huge suitcases. It makes my trips more enjoyable.

Lastly, I always pack an extra duffle bag for all the goodies I pick up in country. Global shopping at local markets is one of my favorite things to do and this way I have room to bring back my purchases.

Do you think your style will be changing in the coming years, or do you feel that you found your style and will stick to it?

After about five years of self-discovery, pushing my own fashion boundaries, I feel pretty darn good in my skin.  I feel like I have definitely found my signature style and I'm sticking with it.  The silhouettes may change but the color and pattern are here to stay. I am bold and adventurous and I wouldn't have it any other way.

And finally, to someone who feels they haven't found their style yet, where would you suggest to start?

If there is a style that inspires you or makes you smile when you look at it, I encourage you from the bottom of my heart, to try it!  Then try it again and again and if it feels like you, own it! Mixing prints is a fashion trend, but for me it was the tool that helped me discover my true style.  I committed to myself to push my own boundaries and that it was OK to feel a little unsure with a fashion choice. By wearing it, I had to own it and that continued practice grew my confidence to be creative. Try to remove self judgment and just have fun!

Sheena's blog HERE

Other interviews HERE


  1. She's fabulous, I'm drooling over Sheena's ethnic pieces an her amazing jewellery. thanks for sharing. x

  2. ohhhh, I agree with Vix, she's Fabulous (with a capital F) and I'm loving her style. Thanks for sharing!

  3. sooo amazing!
    of cause i´m totally in love with her sense for colors and prints and her ethnic pieces!!!
    but what i really dig is that she works with "volume" - flowing skirts, very loose tunics, wide pants and sleeves and such - it must look impressive when she´s walking down the street!!!!
    thank you for introducing her. although her blog will cause a heavy "reisefieber" ........

  4. Wow, I could definitely wear any piece from her wardrobe: what colours, what prints! Fantastic lady, thank you for introducing her.

  5. Sheena is an incredible soul. So vibrant and confident. I always love her styles and it was so nice to get a more in-depth look into what drives and inspires her. Great interview!

    - Anna

  6. Absolutely lovely---such terrific style!!

  7. Her Style is amazing , these colours and silhouette. I like it.
    Thank you Natalia for this interview.

  8. Sheena is absolutely amazing! I love her sense of style. So cool she visited so many countries and is inspired by all of them. I love folkore inspiration, it is the best place to look for your new interview series dear.