Birmingham native Megan LaRussa chased her dream of working in the fashion industry to the Big Apple after college. She landed a successful job in trend forecasting, but it wasn’t long before she felt a calling to return to the Magic City. Megan realized her passion was in empowering women through personal style coaching. She began by curating outfits for family and friends and has since served hundreds of clients, both in person and through her online membership service, the Style Yourself Chic Society.
As the presenting sponsor for Ways of Seeing: Fashion, Megan brings a unique perspective to the exhibition. She has an eye for what’s trending, celebrates self-expression, and sees fashion as an art form. We couldn’t agree more!
BMA: As one of Birmingham’s most stylish residents, you offer your expertise to people across the country through in-person and online style coaching. What does Style Yourself Chic mean to you and how do you help others achieve it?
Megan LaRussa: As a Style Coach I am a firm believer in knowledge is power, and I use that belief when working with clients to help them look and feel their best through their outward appearance. I’ve found when my clients learn more about their body type, their personal style, what makes them feel awesome and why, they are more likely to feel confident in their daily lives. This confidence in their outward appearance permeates into all areas of their life and helps them be a better employee, boss, mother, wife, friend and so on. When I’m helping a client with her wardrobe and overall look, I am ‘styling her chic,’ but it’s more than that. I want her to leave our sessions feeling empowered to ‘style herself chic’, and that comes through our various sessions together focused on learning more about her style, silhouette, and how to get dressed with ease daily. Fashion is just like any art form, it takes practice and time to become fluent and comfortable.
BMA: What role can everyday fashion play in shaping an individual’s identity?
ML: Fashion is an outward expression of your inner self. What you put on your body, how you wear your hair, the accessories you select, all tell the world who you are and how you want to show up. I always tell my clients that we can either be overwhelmed or afraid of this fact, or we can be the ones in control of our own appearance and image. Fashion is a wonderful vehicle for discovering more about who you are in your current stage of life. There’s nothing I love more than helping my clients to dive deeper and explore who they want to be. Clothes and accessories help make what’s inside of you–your interests, beliefs, character traits, and values–come to life and be a visual representation of the real you.
BMA: This exhibition offers a glimpse of fashion around the world. Where in your travels have you found inspiration?
ML: Traveling is one of my passions as I love nothing more than seeing how other people live and of course dress around the world. I am a Francophile through and through, so Paris is on the top of my list for inspiration. The effortlessly chic nature of French dressing is such an art form, from how they layer to how they pair colors and prints, of course all while looking understated, cool, and elegant.
BMA: What are your closet staples right now?
ML: I talk to my clients often about style evolution and our wardrobe changing as we grow as people. My wardrobe staples tend to change to match my stage of life, so currently I’m in a stage that allows for travel, working with my amazing clients, and experiencing new spots in our fabulous city. That means I need staples that are comfortable, versatile, and really can take me anywhere. My #1 staple currently is a blazer, in particular one with stretch that can move with me. A third piece just makes me feel pulled together and ready for anything. Another wardrobe staple would have to be a silk neckerchief. I have a wonderful collection passed down to me from my great-grandmother that I enjoy wearing tied around my neck for an added pop. And lastly, I can’t live without a pair of fun (often distressed) denim. I’m on the go so much that I need to be practical, but still want to feel like my best self and that’s where embellished and distressed denim comes in…not to mention this denim style pairs beautifully with a blazer!
BMA: What is your favorite piece in Ways of Seeing: Fashion and why?
ML: This is a hard question as I love so many of the pieces for different reasons. But I would have to say the Diane Arbus photograph of Two Girls in Matching Bathing Suits. I am a huge fan of her photography, along with Cindy Sherman and Juergen Teller. I like how they show the often grittier side of life and in this case fashion. I personally think this photograph showcases a unique contrast between the disheveled look of the girls and their perfectly matched bathing suits. This dichotomy could possibly be a reflection of how image conscious humans can be versus what a person is really feeling and experiencing internally. But that’s the beauty of art and fashion–so often we have different takeaways when looking at the same piece.
BMA: Are there elements in the exhibition that you see trending today?
ML: Absolutely, I think the entire exhibit is trending today. What we wear is often determined by what is happening socially, politically, and culturally. Fashion (and art) is not a vacuum and it’s heavily influenced by what is happening during the time it’s designed and created. The exhibition gives us a glimpse at history through this different lens. A great example is a photograph or painting from the 1980s. The economy was booming and fashion followed suit with bold colors, strong silhouettes, and the more is more attitude. I really think that this exhibition is going to give visitors lots to think about as they view the art on display through this different and fashionable lens.
Don’t miss Ways of Seeing: Fashion, opening soon on April 13, 2019!
Ways of Seeing: Fashion is presented by Style Yourself Chic with Megan LaRussa and made possible by the City of Birmingham.