(Written for galsthatbrunch.com)
“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” (Coco Chanel). After speaking with Jessica Sweeten, owner and operator of the online fashion boutique, Sweetly Striped, a theme emerged as she described her perspective on style− Just. Be. You.
I met and interviewed Jessica in mid September for the fall fashion edition of the Gals That Brunch blog. Jessica, based out of San Diego, California, met with me via FaceTime whilst I worked from my home office in L.A. During our discussion we touched on several topics like family, finding yourself, and of course, fashion. In the following interview, you’ll learn about Jessica’s journey to running her own business, tips for fashion on a budget, trends this coming season, and her take on style as a tool for empowerment. Read on dear ones, and enjoy this dialogue with the lovely, Jessica Sweeten.
JL: Hi Jessica! Thank you for talking with me today.
JS: Thank you so much for interviewing me!
JL: You have an online boutique, Sweetly Striped, where folks can shop all kinds of fabulous items like bags, tops, denim, shoes, and accessories. Tell me about how the site got started and how you got into the fashion world.
JS: Absolutely. We launched the site in January of this year , and it was a long time coming. I went to school for fashion, studied abroad in London, and did a couple internships, so I’ve been in the fashion industry for quite a while. But when I moved to San Diego− because my husband had a great work opportunity− it was really hard for me to get into the industry the way I wanted. So I took some time off, did other sales jobs, and had a little-one; and, it just dawned on me one day. I was like, “You know what? I’m not being true to myself and I want [my daughter] to be true to herself and I need to be a good example of that.” And literally that day I told my husband, I’m opening a boutique! And my husband was like, “Okay. Well all right, we’re doing it, then!” and I hit the ground running. That was October  and we launched in January. It’s been fantastic.
JL: Wow. That’s amazing!
JS: Yeah, it was inspiring to have that time where I lost myself and had to go through finding out what was important to me again and making goals happen. I was able to really see the importance of how I could help other women through fashion and help them find their identity. Dressing everyday women for me is not only fun but also something that I can do to give back. I’m able to meet so many amazing women, work with them and dress them so it’s definitely a rewarding career, to say the least.
JL: That’s fantastic. It sounds like it’s been a long journey and now everything is culminating. It’s great to do what you love.
JL: So, before we get into the knitty gritty, I want to know, what is your philosophy on style?
JS: Absolutely. I think it’s a matter of being true to yourself. There are a lot of great trends always coming into play but at the end of the day it’s about knowing who you are and how you want to present yourself. Really know your body type and the colors and fabrications that work for you; and then go into that world of trends to see which ones make you feel good and confident− that’s how you conquer fashion.
JL: Thank you for sharing. So tell me, what’s on trend this coming season?
JS: One word to encompass a lot of what’s going on right now is fabrication. With fall and winter it’s such a fun time to play around with it. Another theme right now is cozy. And you’ll see a lot of very generous size silhouettes and that fluffy, cozy feel− which I love.
JL: So do I!
JS: Yeah! I have a few looks right now that are just so easy and fun to incorporate, that also add comfort. I think all of us can get behind that message. Fur is also a fun one. Maybe it’s just because deep inside I’m this Old Italian lady that loves fur and glam. Bring on the faux fur!
JL: I love it!
JS: Just by having a [fur] vest or a little jacket that you can throw on over a white tee and denim and a pair of booties, creates such a fun contrast! I’m also obsessed with the whole burgundy thing. It’s such a rich, beautiful color and adds an aspect of sophistication. It’s pretty cool that a color can do that much. Also neutral plaids− they’re kind of a fall/winter staple that never goes away. [This season’s plaid] is a little bit more muted with warmer undertones. For example, I have an ivory and plaid top that I pair up with a camel tone skirt.
JL: Awesome! Now, lets talk about fashion on a budget. What can we do in those times when we’re on a tighter budget but still want to look our best?
JS: I think it’s a matter of finding those brands that offer good quality at good price points. For example, denim- it’s such an important thing, because you can dress it up and you can dress it down. Add any top, any sweatshirt. It’s such a core piece. Finding a good denim brand that you really feel comfortable in is kind of like the foundation of a house. Brands that I really like and stand behind are Just Black Denim and Articles of Society. I’ve chosen these denims because they’re all under a hundred dollars. I know some people will disagree but I don’t believe in spending over a hundred dollars for denim, especially because I know where they’re all made. And guess what? They’re all made in the same place!
JS: When you find denim that works for your body type and that you feel comfortable in, you’ve found gold. So you have your pants and then moving into your next level− tops− just basic tops that you can layer with different things. A white top for example, is one of the most understated, most amazing pieces out there. You can throw it on with a moto jacket; if you want to throw a leather bomber on, you’ll have a whole different look than you would if you wore it with a lace kimono. You can go from very edgy to very feminine. A white top is so versatile. So really, look at basic pieces that you can style in different ways. You can get four or five different looks off just a few pieces, which will make your money go far.
JL: So you’re saying, find what looks good on you, set your price point and style up some basics.
JS: Exactly! I’m such a dork I can talk about this all the time, clearly.
JL: That’s a good thing! Tell us more!
JS: Another thing is often times people get so excited over all the new trends, which is great, but when you’re on a budget, [know that] there are investment pieces and there are trendier pieces that you don’t spend a lot on. I’ve been doing my own fall looks on the website and a major trend right now is the fringe. But maybe having a fringe dress is not realistic for everybody. As a mom, I might wear that one time to a wedding, or one time to go on a date, but I don’t want my two year old pulling fringe off of my jacket or off of my dress and then I look like a hot mess! So maybe put that [trend] into an accessory and know how to utilize it in a way that is more realistic for you. I think that’s a big part too− know that trend items shouldn’t be expensive items.
JL: So, what would you advise women to wear when they’re meeting new people in a social setting?
JS: I think there are a lot of factors. First of all, where are you going? If you’re in cute little hipster North Park [San Diego], that’s going to be a whole different vibe than going downtown to a rooftop place to get mimosas and brunch. But I think at the end of then day, it’s so simple! What do you wear that makes you feel good? If you’ve got something on that you’re going to be constantly messing with, don’t wear it! The last thing you need is a distraction! So wear those pieces that you feel good in and make you feel like you’re able to be you. Focus on what’s at hand− meeting other people, hearing their stories, telling them yours, and making the most of that time.
JL: I totally agree. I know I’ve been guilty of going out wearing pants that are so tight they make my stomach hurt− and then I end up not having a good time! Enough about me though, let’s talk a little bit about body type. What advise can you share?
JS: I think one of the toughest parts is knowing your body type and dressing for it. Our body type is always changing due to the events that are happening in life. I can’t remember the percentage but it’s crazy how many women don’t even wear the correct bra size… for years! But like we were talking about wearing pants that are too small− be aware and find the things that you feel comfortable in. Obviously, don’t live in a bunch of leggings− you deserve more than that. There’s a difference between being comfortable and being frumpy. I’m definitely a pear shape, so doing things that capture that empire waist by synching the middle, is going to work for me. So, having that awareness of what I need to do to look my best is what I need to focus on.
JL: This is all really great information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Is there any other overarching advice that you want to share with our readers before we say goodbye?
JS: There are so many things that we go through in life and so many distractions. The most important thing is to focus on what makes you happy. Whether that’s going to a yoga studio, or whatever you’re going to do, incorporate that into your wardrobe. I saw a video the other day and it was about this woman who only wears green. She’s worn green everything for the past twenty years and people call her, Miss Green. She says it’s a happy color and she’s dedicated her life to that. So, just figure out what looks you like. It doesn’t have to be the latest thing. Just be true to yourself. That’s my whole goal− to give women confidence through fashion and embrace their personal style.
JL: I appreciate that. Last question− where can we find Sweetly Striped?
JS: I’m online based, so you can find all of our looks on sweetlystriped.com and on social media @sweetlystriped (Instagram and Facebook). I like to do online shopping made even easier and in my Sweetly Striped VIP Facebook group I offer stuff to [group members] first, like free shipping and other things like that to keep it fun. So you can definitely find me. Whenever I do pop-ups I always share on social media, so always on Instagram and Facebook.
JL: Thanks for talking with me today, Jessica.
JS: Thank you!
(Hair & Makeup in photo no. 1 by Sophia Lesberg @makeupandmamahood; Makeup in photos no. 2 – 8 by Sarah Anne, @beauty bespoken; Hair in photos no. 2 – 8 by Holly Dargavell, @holly_dargavell)