Every month, more than 100,000 people (presumably women) "tumble" upon What I Wore to see what blog founder, and now author, Jessica Quirk is wearing.
Here, the 5'9" personal style force to be reckoned with (who's very likely headed to a fashion magazine near you) dishes on running her own business, tackling stylist's block, finding quality clothes on a budget and more.
Q: You worked as a fashion designer for four years before starting What I Wore. Can you tell us a little bit about your former gig and what inspired you to pursue the blog full-time?
A: My job in the industry was far from glamorous I designed everyday, private-label sportswear for missy and juniors, sold at a mass merchant near you. My job was to interpret trends and make them available at an affordable price. I did everything from shopping the market (London, Paris, Cologne and Amsterdam) to sourcing fabrics in Hong Kong. So much of design is in the nitty-gritty bottom line, and we could spend hours analyzing button sizes and colors.
I am so grateful to have traveled around the world, and to have learned so much about production within the fashion industry, but I love blogging, so when my site because profitable enough to quit the day job, I was out of there! I feel so lucky to get to do something I love each and every day, full-time!
Q: What were some of your biggest challenges starting out? Now?
A: For someone who’s self-employed, the challenge is always how to grow your business. With blogging being a relatively new industry, it took a lot of convincing to find companies that saw the value in a partnership on a blog in the early days. Now that more companies and brands are on board with working with bloggers, it’s about narrowing down the right fit for both What I Wore and my readers.
Q: It can be hard finding something to wear for one night out, let alone day upon
(documented) day. What are some of your methods for getting through everyday stylist's block?
A: It can be hard, especially when [my] mood (or the weather) isn’t right for whatever I’ve picked out for that day. Ultimately, I go for color or comfort when in doubt. I edit my closet every season, so I’m only working with clothes I absolutely love. I’ve also honed in on the basics that work for me, which are a great starting point for any outfit.
The little things can make up for a so-so outfit, as well a pair of heels, a great lipstick, a watch and a necklace pull together any look for me.
Q: How has your style evolved from when you first started the blog in 2007 and now?
A: I was a single gal in my mid twenties, living alone in Brooklyn, when I started What I Wore. I had a super limited budget and went for bold vintage pieces. I wore a lot of colored tights. My style was super retro and super loud. Now that I’m married and living in Indiana, I’ve toned things down a bit. I’m investing in better-quality clothing that I think I'll wear a lot longer. I still love color, but I’m rocking it in a little more moderation than I did at the start of the blog. I love looking back at the old days (and still re-wear many of those outfits), but I also like where I’m headed, sartorially speaking.
Q: It's not uncommon for you to wear a foundation piece more than once. What are some of your tricks for reinventing wardrobe staples?
A: As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of color. Lately, I’ve been buying skinny belts in every color under the sun, which look so pretty paired with navy, black and gray. I also love this time of year, because layering on gauzy (or warmer, pashmina-style) scarves is a great way to pull an outfit together.
Q: You’re 5’9”. What, if any, are the obstacles that come with finding clothes when you’re so tall?
A: With me, the taller the better! My only issues with height were in my middle-school days, when I grew six inches in one year. Cropped pants were not the thing back then. Luckily, now everything comes in tall inseams, and cropped skinnies are equally cute!
Q: What are your go-to sources for high-quality clothing on a budget?
A: Lately, I’ve been all about J. Crew. I spent my entire fall allowance there! The No. 2 pencil skirt is so flattering and comes in a lot of different colors. It just looks so polished; I can see myself wearing it forever!
Q: In your book, “What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style,” you touch on cost per wear. Can you offer readers some insight into wardrobe investing?
A: In short, would you rather wear a pair of $300 boots 300 times (thus, $1 per wear) or buy a pair of junky $30 boots that you wear twice? Go with the investment! I’m all about value clothing in fun prints that work for a season, but when you’re putting together a serious wardrobe, go with quality over quantity. Get the fully lined wool skirt instead of the poly-blend, scratchy number. Splurge on the tailored blazer over the lightweight style.
Q: You recently attended Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week for the eighth season in a row. Which trends do you foresee carrying over from Fall 2011 to Spring 2012?
A: Bright color continues on from Fall to Spring ... especially with safety colors like hot pink, bright orange and neon yellow.
Q: You run your own blog, have participated in several brand partnerships, and have even written your own book. What’s next?
A: I'm very proud of my recent design collaboration with LOFT. I've designed a grown up version of a friendship bracelet and $5 from every bracelet sold will go directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The bracelet is available in stores and online all October long!
OK, now the lightning round …
Favorite color? Crimson.
Favorite fabric? Silk.
Biggest style peeve? Flip-flops.
Favorite midnight snack? Popcorn.
Person you’d most like to meet past or present? This answer could change on a daily basis! I'm in the middle of an amazing biography of Cleopatra, so I'd love to meet her!
Guilty pleasure? Twitter?
Qualities you most admire in a person? Honesty, humility, wonder.
Favorite getaway? Lake cottage in Michigan.
Favorite place to shop? Vintage stores.
Hardest thing to pull off? Harem pants. In fact, I won’t even try!
Follow Jessica's personal style journey at whatiwore.tumblr.com.
Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Quirk