Joni Johnson, director of sales and service for Standard Style, projects the image you’d expect from a fashion consultant.
On a recent Monday morning at the Roasterie Cafe, 4511 W. 119th St. in Leawood, she wore a flowing black Tibi top with ripped white Baldwin jeans. Her black leather Elizabeth and James bag and classic 4-inch Dolce Vita pumps blended seamlessly into her ensemble. Her mesmerizing eyelashes looked at least a mile long.
At Standard Style, a locally owned boutique with locations in Leawood and the Country Club Plaza, Johnson focuses on the customer experience and what she calls “home services” such as closet clean-outs. She also handles a personal styling service called “the box program” — once Johnson gets a feel for a client’s style, she sends a customized box of clothing to their house.
Johnson didn’t always picture a career in fashion.
After earning a degree in early education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, she decided she didn’t want to teach. She wondered how her interest in fashion could support her.
On a fateful day in 2003, shortly after moving to Kansas City, she walked into Standard Style. She had an instant “I need to be here” feeling, spoke with the owners, Emily and Matt Baldwin, and began working at the shop in January of 2004.
The perfect closet
Johnson says that most clients look in their closets and feel they have nothing to wear. She recommends solving the problem by buying four or five classic pieces that’ll tie together the existing items — pieces such as a black blazer that can be worn to work or on an evening out.
Johnson stresses that it’s important to learn how not to be trend-driven, but rather collect classic pieces that last. She suggests five essential pieces for a woman’s wardrobe: black denim, a neutral leather jacket, a printed blouse, a basic T-shirt and a statement handbag.
Johnson creates a list of shopping rules for each woman she works with. The rules depend on each client’s particular fashion rut — whether it’s stuffing her closet with T-shirts, stocking nothing but black garments or sticking to just one textile.
Johnson also tells clients to clear out clothes they don’t feel great in.
She emphasizes that a wardrobe can be an ally or an enemy to self-confidence. So even if you end up scaling back your wardrobe, it’s better to feel excited about what you’re wearing than to know you’re wearing it only because you have it.
Looking ahead to fall
Johnson says this fall it’s all about playing with proportions.
She suggests women try flowy pants with an off-the-shoulder blouse or a turtleneck, or culottes with a cropped sweater.
“It’s just a matter of finding the proportions that work for the individual,” she says.
She’s also seeing floor- and ankle-length dresses from her favorite designers. Johnson encourages even petite women to try the trend.
“Put it with a great, block heel and I think you’ll really love it,” she says.
For shoes, she’s into flats. Specifically, flat mules and flats adorned with faux fur — though, not printed faux fur unless it’s a classic cheetah.
She says designers are tossing the stiletto in favor of a blocky heel, pairing flats with long skirts, and bringing out boots that rise above the knee.
Use color sparingly, Johnson advises.
“Color can be your friend, but I feel like it can really work against you in terms of being dated,” she says.
“If you keep it more classic, you can still incorporate color.”
Stay away from what she calls “the sad bag,” which will ruin a good outfit. Aside from a low-quality or simply worn-out bag, a sad bag is anything quilted or covered in logos or flowers.
And this fall, don’t even think about busting out the bedazzled jeans and accessories.
“None of that. Bedazzled everything needs to be lit on fire,” she says. “I’m still seeing that and I’m so shocked it’s still out there.”
Contact Anne at firstname.lastname@example.org or @annekniggendorf.