Evolution of Style: Q&A with Elaine Kim
Perhaps the greatest aspect of getting older is becoming one’s whole self — realizing who we are, and how every unique part of us fits together. We grow, we mature, we become more discerning, more confident in who we are. Our priorities shift, as does our inspiration.
Our style evolves to its most elevated. We trade in and up — foregoing fast fashion for more luxurious staples destined to live years in our closets. We create for ourselves a wardrobe to be lived in, and we do so with intention.
We asked Elaine herself to speak to the subject; to walk us through what has changed (and, perhaps more significantly, what hasn’t) as her style has evolved over the course of her life.
When we initially touched on this topic, you spoke to strictly trend dressing — about how that becomes less exciting as you get older. Why do you think that is?
There’s more of that desire to conform when you’re younger; the flip side of that is the desire to stand out. So you can use trends to participate or set yourself apart. And to set yourself apart is to be way ahead of every trend. As I matured, I lost the desire to dabble in every trend.
I do still play with trends knowing full well that I can participate — or not. That’s the essence of staying fresh: not being stuck in your ways.
Other than the fact that you exist in the industry, why do you find yourself focused on trends?
The contrarian impulse is very strong in me — I love to play in that dangerous area where something isn’t necessarily acceptable. That’s very exciting to me, and that’s where that play with new trends comes in.
What do you prioritize now when it comes to finding new pieces?
I’m a firm believer in having well-made clothing that lasts more than a decade in your closet.
With every year that goes by, you’re interested in saving time — saving time in researching and acquiring the wardrobe, saving time getting dressed in the morning. Versatility and mixability is key. And every piece must be made in a great material, because each piece must stand on own.
What inspires you now in your style vs what used to — where do you turn to for inspiration?
Street fashion. I keep up with runways of course, but I am inspired by real women living real lives, but who express themselves by dressing in creative ways. It also gives me information about what the zeitgeist is. And I’m working within that, either by participating or rejecting.
You’re a mother — how much did having children change your style & sensibilities?
Becoming a mom is a real turning point in peoples’ style. That’s when you realize what your clothing has to be. Simple, easy to care for, soft for your kids to touch. Comfort. You’re doing real work of raising children. That’s why knit and stretch garments are so important.
What do you think hasn’t changed over the course of your life in terms of your style?
My passion for it. My own curiosity. I love that it’s become a mission. Women that I respect, women who are out there doing great things — they ask me what to wear. I feel useful.