Ann is a teacher and a world traveller who has lived in many countries. Her adventures are reflected in her clothing which she describes as hip, funky and eclectic. Ann feels strongly that you should dress to feel confident and beautiful and have lots of fun with your clothes. Let’s find out how she achieves that!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
During the day, I’m actually a high school librarian. My husband and I are international educators. We’ve lived in six different countries over the last 18 years! We got married in July of 1997, and five days later moved overseas to start our expat lives. (We have never lived in the States married together!) Our two kids, who are now 12 and 13, were born in Venezuela. Currently, we’re living in Hong Kong. I love living overseas: my family has been able to travel the world over, and we really enjoy learning and living in different cultures. Both my husband and I are from Washington State, so during our summers we go visit with family in the Pacific Northwest at our lake cabin. I love the life we’ve created (or rather stumbled upon) for ourselves. Aside from travel, I love to shop, cook, read, swim, hike, plus get dressed, and help people dress with style.
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I am now 43 years old but I swear, aside from aching bones, I feel like I could still be in my 30s. I found 34 to be the very best age ever! For three years in a row I turned 34 again and again—until my dad gave me away to my then 7 year old son. Basically I always feel younger than I am. Recently it just struck me that I might be perceived as older than I am. I received one of those “When I’m your age….” comments. It took me aback, but then I just laughed. I prefer to continue feeling young. It’s all in the attitude! I think working with high school kids, alongside my embrace-everything spirit, helps me to feel younger than I am. And, the way I feel effects how I dress.
Can you tell us a bit more about your blog Kremb de la Kremb and why you created it?
Kremb de la Kremb originally started as a way to document the family events and travels as we were living abroad. I had always been a photo album creator (not necessarily an artistic scrap booker, but just keeper of all the physical picture prints). All of a sudden around 2006 it seemed silly to keep printing “old fashioned” photographs, so I started a blog, Kremb de la Kremb. (I even used Blogger back then for a while.) We were living in India at the time and the kids were still toddlers when the family blog started. Then when we were planning our move to Beijing in 2009, I knew I needed my own dot com because of the Chinese firewall. It was at this time in 2008 that I switched (thankfully!) to WordPress and also bought the domain krembdelakremb.com. (At the time I was also blogging frequently at my educational site dearlibrarian.com—which since building up Kremb de la Kremb has unfortunately kind of petered away.)
Fast forward to moving to Hong Kong…. Instagram had been around for a couple of years, and I was posting all sorts of #ootd pictures and style collages. I have and always will love style, fashion, and shopping. With a move to Hong Kong, I decided to enrol myself in the London College of Style in order to become a certified personal stylist. On the family blog I started testing out some of my DIY projects and style shoots from my coursework.
By the time we moved to Hong Kong in 2012, I felt really ready to share my style expertise, and I just went for it! In fact there’s a post titled “What is Annie Doing?” in hopes of explaining the sartorial shift in the family blog. In retrospect, it’s all been very muddled. I still struggle with whether the site is our family lifestyle site OR my style story. I’m getting there and appreciate any feedback in this area! Sometimes I think it’s time to branch off the two and let one stay as the family “virtual” scrap book and really brand myself as a stylist. In this area, I welcome all responses—basically HELP! What should I do here?!
How would you describe your own style?
This is such a great question but pretty difficult for me to answer. I actually wrote a post about it when a friend asked me if I could name my style in five words—instead I described my style with three words: hip, funky, and eclectic.
I start with hip because I have always wanted to be the first to wear something. For example, I want to be the one that first wears culottes and then others follow example. I want to be the trendsetter. When the trend has become popular and mainstream, I’ll usually stop wearing it. (I would never consider myself a hipster though; I find that style very different and its own look altogether.)
I like to experiment and try new things. I’m definitely a risk taker and have always been so. Back in 6th grade my mom was dressing me in a man’s tie, Bermuda shorts, and knee highs for my school photo, and I let her. I always went along and therefore believe I get my daring and experimentation from her. She always made me try something on first before deciding if I like it or not; to this day, I approach style in the same way.
I’m also very funky. I try to be classy and urban chic. For example, I will often try to dress similarly to Sylvia who I consider to have that classy and urban chic style I covet. I love this style; it’s similar to my super stylish sister who I often refer to on the blog. Yet every time I try to dress in this cool, chic way, I always throw something wild in to the mix—some crazy paisley print, a bold lipstick, or a loud purse or pair of shoes. I want to be simple chic, but the funk in me always wins! It’s like I have to add some sort of quirk with texture, prints, or color (or even all three!).
Finally, I’m very eclectic and love the story behind pretty much most of my wardrobe. I’ve lived all over the world, and all my treasures along the way are so dear to me. I love the story behind so much of my personal style, so often there will be a bohemian purse included from some market somewhere in the world or an ornate necklace picked up from living in some country.
Although I’ve tried to name my style in three words, it’s always changing which is why I chose words like hip, funky, and eclectic. Those attributes have and always will be true to my personal style.
What would you consider the most important components of your style?
For me, the most important component of my style is the way the outfit or article of clothing makes me feel. When I’m in an outfit I love, I walk differently. I very much rely on my clothing to help set my mood and increase my confidence. That term “dress for success?” That’s me daily. I need to feel great in what I’m wearing. If not, it’s gotta go!
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
For me the question is more like where have I lived and do these places influence my style? The answer is positively yes!
From living in Latin America, I always like to embrace a little vivaciousness. From my days in Saudi, I collected some amazing pieces that are still in my wardrobe and jewellery box.
I will forever be drawn to paisley, beautiful textiles, and flowy kurtas because of living in India for five years.
My cashmere collection rocks because of the fabulous markets in China.
I’m a storyteller, and my clothing always has a story behind it. Finally, as a US citizen, I will always be partial to a lil’ red, white, and blue—especially red and a bold red lippy!
Do you feel you have a signature style?
Hmmm…. because I’m all over the place from outfit to outfit and I use my clothing to either express how I’m feeling or help my mood, I believe the answer is no. It’s kind of weird, but I do not think I have one signature style. Rather, I think it’s usually expected that I will always be dressed with intention which makes me a stylish individual, but I’m not sure if that’s a signature style. Is it?
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
Two things greatly affect my style: my mood and my affect. My mood totally inspires my outfit choices daily but more importantly I think I consider the affect I want for the day, situation, or event: then I dress accordingly.
For example, if I have a meeting with colleagues I might step up my sophistication, but if I am teaching kids all day I might dress funkier. If I’m going out, I consider the event–do I want to be noticed or fit in? When I dress for my mood I consider how I want the clothing to make me feel. Do I want to be comfy on that day, or do I want to feel super classy and chic? Do I need auspicious jewellery for that day, or do I play with costume jewellery to add some funkiness. Is today a leopard day or a plaid day or both? Or am I going with my version of simple with a boho white shirt and jeans?
All of these thoughts and questions go through my mind when I go to get dressed. To be honest, this thought process is something I crave. I love getting dressed. I actually find joy and pleasure in the thought process and plan of getting dressed—usually more often than the actual day or event!
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
Without thinking about it I think I do this, but it usually isn’t so conscious of a decision. I know what colors work for me and tend to stick to them and avoid those colors that make me feel awful.
When I go to get dressed I make tweaks that help my figure. I think I’m always subconsciously figuring out what looks best in terms of color and style because I care so deeply about looking good in my clothes—I rely on my style to help me. If I don’t feel good or confident in an outfit or article of clothing, it usually doesn’t last long in my closet. Could you say I’m uber conscious of this without knowing that that’s what I’m doing? I think so!
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
Not really. I’m still taking risks and going for it as a 40 plus individual. I suppose I do question the overexposure of skin more now in my 40s, and I think about the situation, event, or day I’m dressing for and dress accordingly.
But then again, one of my best features is my pair of legs, so I like to wear shorts and shorter skirts. Also, if held up properly in a supportive bra, I sometimes allow my cleavage to show. I mean I have substantial breasts, so I might as well acknowledge them—but in as elegant a way as possible.
I am very much a proponent of every woman finding what makes her feel great and then flaunting it! If it’s even as simple as nice nails, go for it. We have to find beauty in ourselves and then celebrate it. Women generally seem really good at finding all dimples and wrinkles, so I encourage finding the one (or more!) thing about a woman’s body that is loved and then showing it off. We all need to EMBRACE OUR BEAUTY!
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
I think this term should be dressing “confident appropriately.” A woman should wear what makes her feel beautiful. When she’s wearing that item that makes her feel utterly beautiful, her confidence will overshadow any doubt in her dress.
When we feel self-conscious in what we’re wearing, that shows. Insecurity leads others to believe a woman might be dressed inappropriately. But, if a woman is rocking her attire, I believe other impressions will be made. Like “Wow! That woman looks great! I wanna rock jean shorts when I’m 40+ too!”
Let’s move toward inspiring rather than always critiquing. Let’s only dress in that which makes us feel the most confident and celebrate our beauty—no matter the age.
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
I can recall being a ten year old young girl saving up my money for the coolest pair of bright blue racer shorts with a cap sleeve, blue and whited striped tee. Oh, I had to have that outfit, and the pride I felt once I purchased these two items has stayed with me.
On my blog, I reflect a ton on memories similar to this; I have been interested in style, fashion, and shopping as early as ten years old. In high school I remember starting a petition because the girls were not allowed to wear shorts—and with Benetton cranking out all those winter shorts in the 90s, we had to be able to wear them.
I found putting the outfits together for the sorority membership process (often referred to as Rush) more thrilling than actually pledging a house.
When I got married, creating the design for the bridesmaids dresses was more thrilling than finding my dress. I have always been infatuated with fashion, I have always wanted to dress stylishly, and I have always wanted to look good in what I’m wearing. Now in my 40s, I’ve come to the realization that the way I wear clothes and my stylish ways are a definite part of my person, my character, and my individuality—so much so that I am willing to blog about it and share this passion with a wider community.
Why is the way you look important to you?
The answer to this is going to totally come across filled with my vanity, but here goes: I like to look good. That’s the honest answer. No, actually, let me correct that: I love looking good! I love feeling great about what I’m wearing. I love the feeling of confidence that comes from a well-put together outfit. I enjoy compliments about what I’m wearing. It makes me gush. If someone cares to talk about what I’m wearing, then I go into full storytelling mode. And, if someone seeks my counsel about his or her own style, I receive such a sense of fulfilment.
I love helping others to feel good about their personal style too. Confidence should definitely be something we all wear!
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
Yes, I do, but I like to set them; I don’t like to be the last one to wear something. When everyone else is wearing a trend, I’ll usually go on to the next one. It’s the risk taker in me.
On the other hand, many of the items in my closet are OLD! But I always try to rework them or fit them in to my outfits in an updated way.
A couple of trends worth trying this spring and summer are culottes, off the shoulder tops or dresses, jumpsuits, fringe, and gingham.
In the future—like in the next year or two, the trend that I’m not excited about but I can foresee is a shift in the bold lip. I think the nude lip is going to start showing up more and more, I’m going to want to embrace it, but it’s not going to look as good on me; I’ve already tried it out, and it doesn’t look so good. I’ll have to decide what to do—especially considering I like to wear only that which makes me feel confident!
I also foresee shoulder pads…but I will totally embrace them. I have no shoulders; they just slouch away, so I’m going to love that trend!
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
I sound like a broken record, but…. wear what makes you feel beautiful!
If you can consider that confidence is an actual article of clothing, confidence is the pair of shoes you wear, confidence is a lippy to be smeared on, then you’re on your way.
And if you are not finding what it is that makes you wear this confidence, reach out for help to find it. There are so many of us passionate women out there enthusiastic about style and fashion and making sure we all look and feel our best. Reach out to a blogger or a friend and really get at the heart of what you like about yourself and what you can wear to increase your confidence factor.
We all have beauty so share it!
What are your plans for your blog and how do you see it develop over the coming years?
I need to make some serious decisions about my blog: do I maintain where it’s at or do I take it to the next level? And if I decide to take it to the next level, what does that look like and more importantly how do I get it there? You can probably tell this is the state I’m at with Kremb de la Kremb.
I feel very passionate about a few things like style, feeling confident, and sharing both these ideas. I’m just about to become a certified stylist, so I envision exploring helping others more. I daydream about one day being able to quit my day job….now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do that. I’m busy researching this idea and always trying to figure out how to make the blog better.
One major question I keep coming back to is do I break away from Kremb de la Kremb or stick with it. Regardless, I have a feeling changes are on the way so that I can continue to become better and hopefully help others too.
Anything further you would like to add?
I would just like to finish by sharing my great appreciation and gratitude to Sylvia. She has created such a supportive community for 40+ women. She inspires me daily as a blogger to be better. I admire Sylvia’s personal style, commitment to style, and support to others in style. Basically, Sylvia helps me to be better each day, and I hope to some day do the same for other women too. Thank you Sylvia!
For many more fun and funky outfits from Ann and her style advice, be sure to visit Kremb de la Kremb!
How do you make sure you feel confident in your clothes? What is your favorite of Ann’s outfits?