question time: lindsay k of un petit bijou
We’ve come to the end of this Question Time series with Lindsay K of Un Petit Bijou - a blog written with great thoughtfulness and charm on a little topic called style. Lindsay K’s responses to my questions is the best illustration of why I enjoy reading her blog: she is astute, precise and nuanced in her observations - much like how she dresses.Where are you from, and what do you do?
I’m from New York.
Like most young women, I’m incredibly busy and focused on my career. It’s New York, so I’m no stranger to the fourteen-hour workday. It’s interesting (laughing), because in New York it’s a reflex to ask, “what do you do” or “where did you go to school” immediately following “what’s your name.” It’s deeply how we identify ourselves and needless to say it is very, very competitive. At this time, my career is something I would like to keep private. New York, in many ways, is also a very small city.
Over the past few years, I’ve been inundated with career advice, questions, counseling and the like. I always become invested. I mentor high school students and speak to alums about all things career, but I don’t intend for my blog to be a forum for that. My blog is my refuge from all the demands of my busy life.
In addition to my professional goals, I’m on the junior boards of several prominent non-profits. I believe deeply in giving back in whatever way I can. Organizations that provide children with access to public health, opportunities and education (the greatest equaliser), are the ones closest to my heart.
Why did you decide to start a blog? How have you found the experience?
A few years ago, at the onset of the street style photography craze, I was photographed going about my routine. I was crossing the street in one of the most chaotic areas of the city and the photographer instantly noticed my look and trailed me for two city blocks and into my favorite salad shop to politely ask for a picture.
This was before street style became ubiquitous, when it was truly humble. What struck me was that the photographer was having a hard time finding someone who looked polished and refined but at ease to shoot. I remember finding it odd because those are the fundamental ways that I approach dressing, style and building my wardrobe. I’ve always been very consistent with my style, so the clothing that I was wearing then; I still love and wear.
It’s incredibly humbling and flattering to be photographed and to see those photographs in a magazine, online slideshow or newspaper, but at the end of the day it’s someone else’s narrative. As beautiful as the framing may be, it’s still someone else’s voice. This deeply impacted my decision to start a blog. Those who have photographed me share my aesthetic and sartorial sensibility but it’s ultimately presented through their eyes. They appreciate silhouette, cut, beautiful fabrics, in the same way I do. Yet style is an intimate thing. Style has always been a great part of who I am and how I express myself.
I’ve always written and kept illustrated journals. It’s how I sort through my thoughts. I thought for a really long time about the type of content I wanted to produce and what I felt was missing from the current dialogue in the blog world. I also have some of the most persuasive friends and family who constantly nagged me to create a blog, so they could have a repository of style knowledge at their fingertips.
Blogging has been truly rewarding. I write about what I’m passionate about and my readers really connect with that. It’s still an odd concept to me that I have readers. There’s a shared interest in quality, craft, beautiful things that keeps people coming back. There’s a lot of knowledge being shared on both sides.
That being said, blogging is challenging. Each week presents something new. Recently it’s been an onslaught of writers looking to write guest posts. Prior to that it was e-commerce and commercial opportunities looking to advertise. For me, it’s always been about maintaining my authenticity.
When did you become aware of style? Tell us about an early style memory.
I wrote about my earliest style memory in my Mother’s Day post here. I can’t think of a warmer sartorial memory or a more eloquent way of saying it. At the time I was a day shy of two years old.
Tell us about a favorite, definitive outfit you wore, and when and where you wore it. Why is it significant for you?
Hmm… I can’t say that I have a favorite, definitive outfit. I’m very precise when it comes to my style, wardrobe and shopping. I only purchase items that I love and treasure- things that have a place within my lifestyle. I’m incredibly disciplined and unwavering about that. At the heart of it, I’m an editor.
There are two things that I find incredibly special right now.
1) Anything that a designer has made custom for me. It’s such an intimate process for someone whose talent you admire and respect to design a garment for you. The measurements, tweaking things to perfection, selecting materials, it is all so special. You wear it and all of these good memories of the whole design process come to mind. I’m fortunate to have access to that kind of talent.
2) It’s timely, but I have to say my YSL dresses from the Yves Saint Laurent days. I wear them everywhere. There’s no occasion where they aren’t right. They’re very Parisienne and very smart dresses that were designed by someone who loved making women look and feel their best.
I place far more emotional significance on jewelry. I always remember what event a piece commemorates. My jewelry is special to me, because it was given to me by someone I love or passed onto me by someone special. If it’s something I bought for myself, then it’s usually a well-deserved piece to commemorate a goal that’s been accomplished. There’s something truly special about a piece being passed down and worn by generations of women in my family. It’s also nice to see that I’ve started to collect pieces of my own that will one day be passed on as well.
There’s a story and a rich history to each piece. The majority of my pieces are hand engraved inside or on the back, whether they’re from well-known jewelry companies or independent family shops. This is something my parents started doing for me early on. So, even if a piece from Tiffany or Cartier is well known, there’s uniqueness.
Describe your style 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and how it's changed compared to now.
I firmly believe that style becomes more nuanced with time. Style is so closely related to identity. I have a really strong personality, so it makes sense that I also have a strong sense of personal style. I always have. I consistently hear women say that they’ve gone through so many different phases and that there style was all over the place. Honestly, I’ve never experienced that.
I’ve always gravitated to classic silhouettes, clothes that drape well, proportions, precision of cut, fabrics and texture. Design philosophy, authenticity and how things are made have been important to me for as long as I can remember.
The biggest changes to my style have been lifestyle changes. I went to a university, and I was really, really young and looked young, so I’ve always been mindful of that when it comes to dressing. Pulled together is always better for me. From a young age, my mom stressed the idea of building a wardrobe with quality over quantity. It was about adding pieces that work with what you have; and being able to evaluate what’s missing, and what needs to be repaired or replaced. From my dad, I constantly heard “you should feel good about how and where you spend your money,” which is such wonderful style advice.
Ten years ago I struggled with how to embrace my love of style with being very academically inclined. It’s interesting because even at a young age I loved reading WWD because of the insight into how a business is run. The last five years have been a series of transitions, the largest of which was entering the workforce. I was able to adapt my style to the professional world easily because I never got into the bad collegiate habit of wearing jeans, sweats, or pajamas to class. My brothers and I went to some of the world’s most prestigious universities for undergraduate and graduate school, and there was a noticeable formality when it came to dress.
"Elegance" is a word you employ often in your blog. Why is it important to you?
Elegance is about so much more than dress. It’s extremely personal. It’s how you wear your clothes. It’s the way you move. It’s dignified grace in appearance, movement, manners. I see elegance as the full package. To me, elegance is important because it’s something you grow into. It’s simplicity in its greatest form. I’m reminded of the saying “Elegance is the privilege of age.” I love that elegance is acquired over time.
It's also a word that can sound "weighty", almost archaic in an everyday context. Ironically, I mostly often come across it when I'm reading about what a celebrity wore on the red carpet. What do you think is the relevance of the need for elegance?
It’s rather sad that good manners, gratitude, simplicity, and presenting yourself well have become archaic. Who doesn’t want to put the best version of themselves out to the world? Those things are timeless. They neither compete with modernity nor do I think it’s limited to celebrity dressing.
I’ve been attending the runway collections for years, and for several seasons there’s been a return to grown up, wearable looks that are elegant. I think elegance is relevant because it’s an all day, every day quality that commences with your attitude and is expressed through your wardrobe choices.
Who or what is elegant to you?
The men and women who I consider truly elegant have this quiet confidence in their personal aesthetic that I find very beautiful. Their clothes are spot on, but they don’t detract. They are humble and graceful. There’s a consistency to how they dress. It’s the little things that I find most elegant, a touch of wrist, a subtle exposed ankle, impeccable fit and proportion. There’s just an ease to true elegance. It isn’t forced. Oh and poise- that’s the most beautiful thing to see.
You've also made mention of "French style" on your blog? That word has become a trend, and is often bandied around on blogs. Is it overrated?
I don’t use terms like “overrated.” It’s too judgmental. Everyone is entitled to like what he or she likes and to blog about what they want to blog about. Who am I to say that my views on style are the right views?
Yes, “French Style” is a trend, but I’m not sure that it’s any more on trend then sustainability or minimalism. Everything is a trend. Even rejecting “trends” is a trend. For me, Paris is the one place where I get away from the hustle and bustle. I love a Breton shirt and my storied luxury brands as much as the next girl, but when in Paris it’s about spending time with people I adore and don’t get to spend enough time with. Paris is hours of reading and wandering in and out of some of my favorite museums.
It’s inevitable that when you spend a great deal of time in a place it informs your style.
Your style is very consistent, but is there anything "out of character" you are drawn to? How would you incorporate that into your look?
Yes, there are lots of things that I’m drawn to that at first glance you wouldn’t think are very me. That’s part of growing and developing your style. It’s a matter of how it’s styled and worn. I’m always drawn to garments that are a little subversive and unexpected. That’s what I love about Carven- it’s a bit tongue and cheek. It counters the precision that’s such a large part of my personality.
There are a lot of designers who are known for their edgy directional style that I love, like Proenza Schouler. I’ve been wearing Proenza Schouler since their first collection. As much as I love heritage, I’ll support young design talent too.
Share with us five things you love about the city you live in.
It’s hard to name just five things that I love about New York. There are too many things to love. I’m big on appreciating and experiencing the city. It’s such a privilege to have so much at your disposal and I don’t take that for granted. There’s an energy here - people really admire hard work and are supportive of it.
1) It’s the city that doesn’t sleep and neither do I. I’m busy, busy, busy. So 24 hour gyms, hair salons and stores that stay open late are so helpful when it comes to productivity. Similarly, I love that everything I could possibly need is at my fingertips. It’s comforting.
2) Culture. So much of my inspiration comes from art. I love that such acclaimed institutions as; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum, Frick, The Studio Museum of Harlem (to name a few), are all right here. There’s always a wonderful exhibit to see. If I have any spare time at all, you’ll find me in a museum. I have wonderful memories of field trips to museums as a child.
Galleries never fail to inspire.
I enjoy seeing world class dance performances by ABT, Alvin Ailey and New York City Ballet. It’s so easy to see a wonderful performance, whether it’s classical music, theater, or the opera. There’s just so much to experience.
3) There are so many different neighborhoods with different feels. When I want to escape, the quiet/tucked away streets of the West Village do the trick. As busy as this city is there are so many quiet places and gardens that you can make your own. I love being able to walk everywhere. You see so much and constantly feel inspired.
4) Fashion. The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology is a great resource for those interested in fashion. It wasn’t ruined by the lauded Daphne Guinness exhibition.
The city embraces and supports young design talent in a very unique way. You want to see them succeed. In many cities, it’s hard to find certain designers to even see the quality. I love that I can get my hands on just about anything here. Oh and the very New York sample sale. You can find such treasures.
5) There’s so much diversity. There are so many different views, ethnicities and beliefs. It adds richness to the conversation.
6) My family and some of those dearest to me are here. What else do you need?
With that, it's goodbye to Question Time for now. I wish I have the time and energy to continue with this series, but it's a bit of a challenge to keep this going regularly. That said, I will continue to keep a list of people that could make good interviewees and perhaps revive this in future. Thanks again to Pret a Porter P, Aissa, Hannah-Rose, Miss Sophie, Amanda and Lindsay K for generously giving their time to this project of mine!
Pictures courtesy of Lindsay K