S.B.C. Weekly

August 22, 2019

Photo by Joshua Franzos

 This week our intrepid style protagonist is Meryl Franzos. Meryl works at a non-profit by day and by night (to speak in figurative clichés; she’s actually a morning writer) is huffing and puffing down Hero Journey road to finish editing her debut novel. She also likes to quaff a nice, dry red, geek out with her husband in the kitchen, squeal baby talk at any Jack Russell Terrier she sees (especially her own), and chase the elusive white rabbit of personal style.


What does personal style mean to you? When you hear the word “fashion” what does it mean to you?


I’d actually like to answer these questions in reverse order. Okay, so to me, “fashion” means “product.” Whereas “personal style” means fashion that has gone through our internal filtration process and made it into our personal space, be it on our bodies or in circulation in our wardrobes. And what is personal style? Well, I feel like it’s a combination of: +our life experiences, +our lifestyle, +our personalities, and +a dash of our hopes and dreams. Fashion is unsustainable and plastic; personal style has stories and reasons, and is very real. So being a writer, you know I have to insert a literary reference in somewhere. You remember the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? The Velveteen rabbit started out his journey in perfect condition but he longed to be real rabbit. Another toy in the nursery, the Skin Horse, explained to him that he would become real if the Boy loved and played with him so much that he grew shabby. Eventually the Boy and Velveteen Rabbit found each other and the Velveteen Rabbit became real because he was all tired, worn, and covered in Scarlet Fever germs. So please, think of your clothes, wear them until they become real. [insert laughing while crying emoji]


Photo by Joshua Franzos

Personal Style: How do you think it is acquired? How did you acquire yours?


Is it acquired? I feel like capital P, capital S, Personal Style is like a cloud. You can see it, but never fully grasp it. Personal Style keeps changing and evolving with the needs of our bodies, our vocations, our family roles, our hobbies. I’m nearly 40, and admittedly, a very late bloomer. I mean, who knows how many iterations of myself will unfold before I expire? I never liked to be tied down or pigeon holed and most of my life I’ve been pretty casual about committing to pretty much anything, personal style being the tip of that iceberg. It’s hard for me to say, I’m universally this or that. It’s easier for me to say, in this moment, I like this. But I will say I been very actively pursuing and exploring my personal style (like it’s my job) since April. So to answer the ‘how is it acquired question,” you gotta get out there and play! I use print magazines, pinterest, and instagram for inspiration. I use a closet app like it’s a swiss army knife. The closet app helped me do a complete closet overhaul this spring where I purged the stuff that doesn’t fit, doesn’t play well with other clothes, doesn’t get worn, or stuff that just isn’t me anymore. I only left the stuff I was giddy about wearing. That was incredibly freeing activity. I also started limiting myself to a select color palette and that has made a huge difference as well. It’s going well. I feel like I’ve never been closer to grasping my Personal Style, but also I feel like it’s still a work in progress and probably always will be. I’m okay with that, but I’m also a little jealous of Marge Simpson’s closet full of the same dress.


How does your personal life affect your fashion choices?


Coming up with fun outfits has always come naturally and easily to me when I'm able to see everything (I even helped Anna Sui style her SS2003 fashion show). These days I'm genuinely excited by the design challenges that Pittsburgh's manic weather presents and the clothing palette I have at my fingertips to puzzle it out in a few minutes. It hasn't always been the case though. For many years I've been pretty singularly focused on my writing and carving out daily time for that and the gym, over anything else. To be super chic, every. single. day. seemed like a languorous misuse of my writing time, so for a period, I would be stylish once in a while on my blog and call it good. The truth was, I was so focused on time that I couldn't take the time to see or think through the hurdles that were preventing me from a daily habit. For instance, we live in a three-story townhouse that was built in the late 19th century (when closets weren't a thing yet) but then it was modernized in the 90's by an architect that favored openness and light over storage space. My husband and I share a closet that is awkwardly wedged underneath a staircase. I don't mind sharing at all, but the low visibility of our Harry Potter closet took the creative wind out of my sails on a daily basis. I used to open our triangular closet, stand there (or crouch, depending on what I was digging for), get overwhelmed, then get disgusted by how long I was taking to get inspired, then I'd just grab-grab-grab and end up wearing some version of the same thing every day until I landed myself in a rut.


Photo by Joshua Franzos


Two years ago, I started making moves to understand my style and push it in more a cohesive direction because I had a closet full of clothes that didn't work well together. There was no flow to it. There were so many things that could only be worn with certain other things which also didn't work with anything else – and if you have enough silo'ed outfits like that, the individual parts will clog up the entire works. It took some time to shake out the sentimental baggage and stuff that no longer belonged in my closet (and understand why it didn't) but it wasn't really until this past March that it all started gelling. I injured my back, so I spent a lot of time on the treadmill, slowly walking as part of my physical therapy. I was completely bored out of my gourd, so I decided to invest that time in a closet app. LOL after many hours on the treadmill, I now have a complete digital facsimile of my closet. It sounds hilarious, but this app has utterly rejuvenated my daily love of expressing myself through my personal style. It also solves the Harry Potter closet/can't see any of my stuff issue, because I can craft outfits on my phone, literally anywhere, and I often do. I even try out things and see how they play with the rest of my closet before I even purchase them. Game. Changer. I also started documenting my daily work outfits on my Instagram stories. This daily documentation was mostly an exercise for me to wrap my head around what I like, see what looks best, make sure I am wearing everything in my closet, but it's also been thrilling to see how much Rock and Roll, Punk, and art charged influences I can legitimately get away with in an office environment. I'm happy to report that I haven't been called into HR yet. It's been a long journey to where I stand today, but I believe that is what fashion on the daily should be, easy, quick, fun and something that you enjoy sharing.


Photo by Joshua Franzos


Tell us about the piece of clothing in your wardrobe that makes you feel the most confident.


It’s either a sexy and comfortable pair of underwear or a pair of aviator sunglasses. It’s not technically clothing, but sunglasses make me feel like I’m putting on an invisibility cloak (which is imaginary clothing) and I can observe more a.k.a stare a bit longer. As a writer, people watching is invaluable research for me. Aviators are especially great because they mask your mood, your facial expressions, your sightline, your intent…and they confuse and intimidate strange men, so when I’m out and about alone, I get left alone. But it’s also entirely possible that I’m just a misanthropic creep wearing sunglasses.


What staple pieces do you believe every woman should own?


Fitted foundation pieces that match your skin tone and in black! When I say foundation pieces, I mean bras and underwear. I don’t understand why white foundation pieces are still made, they certainly don’t belong under white clothing. Rant over. Let’s see, I also think everyone looks universally good in a silky tie-neck blouse, and if you have trousers, a skirt, a dress, a biker jacket, a pair of pointy toe heels, a bag, and a pair of Chelsea boots, all in black, your closet is pretty much foolproof.



Photo by Joshua Franzos


That’s it for me! Thanks so much for the honor of featuring me on your blog

Christina, you’re such a stylish young woman whose taste I value and adore; it is a supreme compliment. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to wrap my head around the question of personal style, the elusive, shape-shifting devil! May we all catch him and know him one day. Ciao!



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