I met Felicity Sargent (@felicityasargent) waiting on a line at SXSW back in 2012, and have been delighted to watch her ascent as a modern NYC fashion icon. In warmer times, I grabbed a point-and-shoot 35mm camera and followed Felicity to a secret garden in her Chelsea neighborhood.
People are often surprised to hear that my personal style story begins on a farm. They tend to react to my initial revelation as if it’s some sort of stock quip, but when they finally believe (after I’ve produced “pics or it didn’t happen”) that I grew up on a sheep farm in Vermont, they end up having so much fun pointing out ways that my agrarian roots serve as this invisible substructure that motivates my style. It also happens to be the case that I was more than a little bit of a baby luddite — no T.V., really bad dial up internet, and pretty limited access to “pop culture.” My earliest “stylespo” comes from digging through my mom’s wardrobe (by lantern light, JK), which basically contained her curated collection of every trend since the 60s.
In high school I had a developed a preppy-boho-farmer look which I think I’ve more or less maintained. I was constantly getting in trouble of challenging the logic of dress code compliance. I recall making the argument that a cardigan sweater with a collar and buttons was functionally identical to a button down shirt. Once, I did a presentation to the entire school arguing that the prohibition on open-toed sandals was ludicrous and unjustified. I won over the administration on both counts. Those count as milestones, right? In retrospect, I see those fights not as authentic high points but as necessary cultural distractions. There’s logic and there’s style, and, for me, the twain barely meet.
In high school and college I pretty much exclusively shopped at J.Crew + Vintage stores. I would buy something special, like a cool dress or statement jacket, when I was on vacation.
I think it’s safe to say that I went a little (read: a lot) overboard shopping in my first couple years living in New York City. I was definitely overstimulated, and the concept of, like, being able to stop at 5 different shops on the way home was just too much for me to handle.
I have found myself shopping less over the last couple of years. I don’t know if it’s because of a larger paradigmatic cultural shift towards sustainability, or because I think my wardrobe is in a pretty good place.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I no longer buy things for parties or events — I feel confident that at this stage, regardless of the occasion, there’s something already hanging in my closet that is appropriate.
I love online browsing but hate online shopping, so when I do shop it’s either stumbling upon something really special at a boutique or vintage store, or, I’ve seen something online that I must track down IRL. Seeing and feeling things in person is very important to me. When I do buy things online, I’ve typically seen and touched them in person.
Probably once a season I’ll do a clean out. It’s never really planned. I’ll just start looking for something, and before I know it there are all these little piles that have accumulated all around me: donate, sell, give to friends. If there’s anything I struggle with it’s “statement pieces.” Consequently, I have one closet that looks more or less like a wardrobe for cirque de soleil. It’s developing into quite the archive, though, so it’s fun/scary to think of it as a collection.
I started out as a writer/copywriter and then developed an app for making up words and digital wordplay, and now I do a lot of naming of companies and voice development for brands, so I’ve never been in a work setting that restricted my style.
As a “word person,” I have to admit that I don’t really love the word entrepreneur —I think it’s one of those words that has been overused to the point that it has become nearly meaninglessness, like disruptor, or influencer. That said, those terms do disclose a new truth of our time — that our relationship to risk is changing. Previously, we had conditioned ourselves to internalize this fear of utter failure and total ruin—like the classic scene from the movie where one messes something up or wrongs the wrong person and "will never work in this town again.” And now we have new emancipating notions of failure and uncertainty; risk serves as a metaphorical and actual springboard.
Obviously, there’s still a very real sense in which this is a privileged understanding. I’m not naive enough to argue that it will somehow “trickle down,” but to the extent that we can universalize that relationship to uncertainty and broaden its acceptance beyond the tech scene, I think that represents a positive evolution that’s not necessarily tied to economic opportunity- not just in our personal and professional relationships but also in the way we relate to ourselves. Leveraging media from Marc Jacob’s chest (read: tattoo), I like to think of this as the new acceptance of being shameless.
I’ve been fortunate to have never really felt the daunting spectre of of uncertainty. I tend to think of everything I work on as a unique experiment, so the thought process is always, here’s this weird idea or concept I think we should try, and it’s success should be judged in terms of proving or disproving its thesis, and ultimately providing a foundation of the development of actionable insights.
For vintage, I love Amarcord, Marlene Wetherell, and always go to the vintage fairs, Manhattan Vintage and A Current Affair. I love the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen flea markets; In Vermont there are also a TON of great vintage haunts — in particular, Who is Sylvia in Woodstock, and Twice Upon A Time in Brattleboro. Alteration Concepts always does a good job with tailoring in the city.
Felicity Sargent is a writer (as seen on vogue.com, harpersbazaar.com, Refinery29 + more), copywriter, stylist and digital consultant living in NYC.
You can find Felicity at www.felicitysargent.com | IG: @felicityasargent | Twitter: @sgtfelicity
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