Carolyne Van Den Hoogen's Summer 2017 Posts

How Did I Get Here – My Style Journey

My style story starts way back with shopping for floral tights at Gymboree. As a child, I always looked forward to Sundays in Los Gatos. My mom, sister, and I would sweep the North Santa Cruz Ave. shops. As I grew up, I began to recognize the power of style. A lot has changed since then. So how did I get here?

In sixth grade, I had a thirst for Juicy Couture. The flashy label was my first taste of something above buying clothes at Target. In seventh grade, I chased the craze of Coach sneakers and a North Face rain jacket. In eighth grade, it all changed. Instead of dreaming about the new pink hoodie by Victoria’s Secret, I dreamed about something else. A navy-blue blazer with gold buttons I spotted at Bloomingdale’s was my ideal clothing item.

As a 13-year-old, I wanted something that a grown woman had. I wanted to appear older than my peers, and have them take me seriously. I wanted to feel important. Some girls at that age take pride in sports, piano, or singing. Not me. I took pride in my clothes.

In high school, I shopped mostly at Anthropologie. Every trip to the store resulted in an item that caught my eye. The next day, I’d wear the piece and my friends would say, “I love that shirt! Where’d you get it?” “Anthro” was my response. By the end of my high school career, my friends knew not to ask. It wasn’t that they didn’t care; they just knew. Anthropologie provided me with the energy, confidence, individuality, and maturity that I sought out. And as I slid hangers down the racks at Anthropologie, I looked for whatever made me look like royalty. My interest in the fashion industry grew and grew. I was getting closer to where I am now.

A few weeks into my internship with Joseph, I told him that I was in the market for new handbag. The handbag needed to fit the following criteria: A 13” laptop needs to fit into it. It needs to be cross body and versatile for any occasion. One day, Joseph and I went to Union Square in San Francisco to do a little research. I came across a potential winner.

We examined the bag together. All the while, I wondered, “What does he think? Is it me? I know he knows, I just don’t know. I know I like it.” Joseph kept quiet in the store. My fear was that he didn’t want to insult the bag maker with the sales associate standing 5 feet away.

As Joseph and I began the trek home, I asked him what he thought of the bag. Joseph asked me to tell him what I thought my style is. My response was something along the lines of, “I’m not a girly-girl but I do love floral. I like tradition in my clothing, a rich history.” Since I did not know how to explain my style, I ranted on. I just wore what I liked and knew that I gravitated toward certain styles of clothing more than others.

The next day, I eagerly sat down with Joseph to assess my style profile. After a month of shadowing Joseph, the time had come. It all began to make sense. Sporty, Traditional, and Romantic with a bit of drama for work and special occasions. This is me. The blue blazer, my obsession for Dior, Anthropologie, and my outdoorsy Alaskan characteristics all came together at that moment. I was so fortunate to have Joseph assess me and formally identify my style.

Style is power. Not many people recognize the power of style, but we have all succumbed to its power. As a middle school student, I knew that a blue blazer had power.  My wish is that you recognize how important clothing is, and what you can do with it. So how did I get here – to this point in my style evolution? I have always been who I am and it’s clearer to me today than ever. As I am soon off to college and later onto a career, you will find me in a blue blazer.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.