SUMMER IN THE CITY // KANSAS CITY

Summer is one of the most beautiful seasons. Even though I’m naturally drawn to cooler weather and crisp fall leaves, there’s something about a Kansas City summer that I love. I slip into The Emma Dress… It’s one of my favorite pieces in the latest Baldwin summer line and it’s ideal for the balmy 95+ degree weather that Kansas City natives are all too familiar with. I grab my Madewell bandana and tie it loosely around my neck to add a chic Americana vibe and head off to one of my favorite events in Kansas City, Boulevardia.

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While we’re on the subject, what is your favorite item in your summer wardrobe? Leave your answers in the comments below!

When I arrive, I’m engulfed by the smell of food trucks and the sounds of Hembree playing on the main stage. I grab Kyle and wander through the crowd to catch the last few songs by this amazing KC band. Nostalgia hits me hard as I remember listening to some of these guys in their pre- Hembree days. It’s been a while since I last saw them live and it feels good to celebrate their success. The band line up is excellent this year, with bands like Guster and Sir Sly gracing the stage.

I take it all in, reminding myself to live in this moment of light, laughter and joy. I’ve got Boulevard Wheat in my hand and a whole lot of beauty right in front of me.

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After the set ends, I take a lap around the grounds. My dress is hiding the sweat and the beer I’m spilling on myself. I plow through crowds of people in the Makers Market and scan over some of my favorite goods from Gypsy Bandits (if you’re a fan of Back Bite, these vintage threads are for you) and The Jeweled Gypsy truck.

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I can’t help but notice how wonderful this event is for the KC community. It allows people to celebrate art, music, culture, food and all of the little things that make life so nice. I truly believe if we could all learn to love our every day surroundings just a bit more, we might actually have a chance at finding happiness.

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Speaking of local makers, I had the pleasure of hosting my TSO pop up shop at one of Kansas City’s most iconic events, First Friday’s in the KC Crossroads. Accompanied by two very talented friends, we had everything from handmade candles and crochet tops to new and pre-owned designer clothing. It was a fantastic way to engage with the community and fellow artists. I certainly hope Kansas City continues to cultivate these types of events, because I’ll be attending as many as possible.

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The Boulevard Jam Band Berry Ale is fully stocked, our Western Auto sign is back in all its retro glory, and life as a KC lady is pretty good.

– Photos taken for TSO by Kyle Graas + Kinsey Cates

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BELLA DONNA // FASHION MODEL

Isabella Fernandez, know as “Bella Donna” has set the bar very high for fashion models all over the Midwest and continues to grow her career and brand on a global scale. After graduating from Stephens College in 2016, Bella pursued a career in retail and curated her own shoots which were artful, fresh and featured herself as the model. Over the past year, she has walked in New York Fashion Week and been published in Vogue Italia   — all while representing some of Kansas City’s most iconic brands.

Recently TSO sat down with Bella at the Made in KC Café and picked her brain…

TSO: How would you describe your style?

BD: Vampy Grandma. I like to wear loose clothing and be comfortable! A majority of my outfits have dark, sexy colors in them (hence the vampire part.) Wearing color is difficult but I know black will match everything. After all, if you’re going to spend money on an item, you want to know you’re going to wear it.

TSO: Why do go by the name “Bella Donna” for modeling?

BD: Bella is short for Isabella and Bella Donna, also means “beautiful woman” in Italian and “Donna” is a joke from eighth grade… So that worked out very well!

TSO: What do you do on the weekends?

BD: If I have a day off, I do things intentionally. I’m an introvert with extroverted tendencies so I always try to schedule days just for myself. I work A LOT and am always going to meetings or photo shoots. Many of my activities incorporate work in some way.

TSO: Does your work play a role in your personal style?

BD: I’ve been lucky to work (retail) for places that are very open to personal style and comfort. When it comes to life outside of modeling, I just want to be comfortable. I don’t want to have to worry about anything.

TSO: What’s your favorite item in your closet?

BD: Dresses are my go-to as the weather gets warmer, but my vintage denim jacket with faux fur cuffs is definitely my favorite! Although my style doesn’t always reflect it, I love 70s aesthetic. If I had all the money in the world, those are the items I would buy.

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TSO: What brands you are passionate about?

BD: I love Reformation and their message. Sustainability is key. I was raised in a very environmentally conscious household so I like to thrift. I’m constantly changing up the items in my closet. When I need something new and funky, I hit up Arizona Trading Company in Westport or Rivermarket Antiques.

TSO: What is your favorite food?

BD: Cheese and hotdogs. I lived in Chicago for two and a half months and had a goal to try to eat 50 Chicago dogs. I consumed about 27 hot dogs in 54 days… I was basically eating hotdogs every other day.

TSO: I can imagine you’re busy all the time, but what does your ideal day off look like?

BD: Being at home, enjoying breakfast, organizing my space mentally and physically and going to the gym. Then the rest of the day would be spent doing nothing. I strive for stillness.

TSO: So are you basically always working?

BD: No, but I do model for things like figure drawing classes, which help strengthen certain aspects of my nude modeling. It’s actually very relaxing. I do hang with my friends! [laughs]

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TSO: What do you want people to know about you?

BD: My education and what I learned in the classrooms of Stephens College really shaped who I am today. My education made me stronger and it made me not take any shit. They taught us that there will be times when you’re not going to feel empowered and people will try to walk all over you… They gave me the tools I needed to fight the bad guys.

TSO: What did you want to be when you were little?

BD: [laughing] A garbage man!

TSO: That’s a little different from what you’re doing now…

BD: Honestly, I’m very happy with my career, but I’m always fighting for more. I want to continue to inspire others even after I’m finished modeling.

Bella has recently taken her career to the next level by launching her model consulting and coaching business and hopes to one day start an agency of her own.

TSO: How did you come up with your Instagram @bellatrixortreat?

BD: My favorite holiday is Halloween and I love Harry Potter. I wanted something with my name in it, so it was perfect.

Regardless of whether Bella learned her tricks inside the classroom at Stephens College or in front of the camera during her extensive modeling career, she is an inspiration, a role model and a TSO Creative Cultivator.

MOTHER MUSE

We love and are endlessly grateful for the lessons and values our mothers taught us… But tonight I’m taking a moment to celebrate the ways our mamas have impacted us via fashion and personal style.

For some of us, our mothers have been the closest to our hearts, minds, and actions and they share a bond with us that is unrivaled.  Designers like Jeremy Scott, Angela Missoni and Michael Kors all credit their mothers for inspiring them the most.

And I must say… I agree with them. My mother is my muse.

I often recreate and reincorporate my mothers iconic 1970s fashion pieces into a majority of my looks. I’m obsessed with the items she wore while engulfed in the beauty of that era. Because of her, I’ve learned to love quality pieces over quantity and respect the idea that when it comes to statement pieces and accessories, sometimes less is more. This chamois jacket was purchased at a North Beach boutique in SF in 1974.

Photography by Nicole Bissey // Styling by The Style Operandi // Makeup by Maria Flowers

In addition to what some of the worlds most famous designers had to say about their mothers, I asked a few women how they would define their mothers style…

 “My mom is my role model and the main reason I have the style I have today. She’s trendy, inspiring and cool. This Easter she picked out my jumpsuit and I’m in love with it.” – Fashion Model, Braydie Elliott

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“My mom has a Colorado mountain lady vibe… She’s natural, flowy and athletic.” – Yoga Instructor + Adventuress, Ali Judy

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“My mother dresses for herself. She’s simple, classic and honest.” – Blogger and Designer, Courtney Newell

“My mom has always been elegant, chic and comfortable in her own skin.” – Holistic Lifestyle Blogger, Amy McDaniel

“She’s everything 90s prairie tomboy.” – Singer/ Songwriter, Terrah Schultz

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Our mothers have shown us some of the most classic styles and inspired our aesthetics. Aside from being graceful, classy and timeless, my mother taught me that one of the best ways to express myself or my feelings was through the outfits I wore.

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Leslie Casterman Cates // Mama of The Style Operandi

Some of my most beloved accessories were passed down to me from my mother and grandmothers. Often I mimic my mothers love of Southwest styles and colors into my outfits. From Native American jewelry to concho belts and turquoise… These are some of my staple pieces.

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Photography by Nicole Bissey // Styling by The Style Operandi

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Photography by Nicole Bissey // Styling by The Style Operandi // Makeup by Maria Flowers

Tonight I want to thank all mothers, and mine in particular, for being our muses.

 

TSO + SOT

South of Truman… Also known as SoT — A tasteful and artsy cocktail bar located in Downtown KC. It’s one of my favorite spots in KC and I’ll tell you why. Rarely do I find a gin cocktail that I can happily sip, and I’ve defiantly NEVER found one to match my personal style. I’ve been disappointed at some cocktail bars in KC recently because I feel they lack consistency and continuity. At SoT, I’m not just getting a delicious drink… I know I’ll receive an incredible experience.

Continue reading TSO + SOT

LE FEMME FATALE // MAGGIE MARIE

The Style Operandi is all about sharing and celebrating the journey that others are on… I’m here to help facilitate those stories. However, sometimes you just let people take the reins. So, here’s Maggie… Our featured femme fatale.

Prince said something I think of often…

“Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is ‘Is there anybody I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?’ If not, then you’re cool.”

Style is the cool elixir. It’s social armor. If you’re feeling your fit, nobody can intimidate you. How I dress is no different, and it’s funny how we even got here. My style is the surprise result of adapting to life’s curveballs. I know- it sounds weird… But it’s true. It’s odd to realize that the whimsy I crave in clothing is seemingly the direct result of a former darkness.

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I used to wear all black- entire outfits, and black hair to match. I took myself so seriously. I hated my body. I had zero concept of self love. You know how they say “what’s bad for your heart is good for your art”? That’s true. I have to credit heartbreak a little- I had my feelings hurt badly and just COULD NOT live any longer in my body as I knew it, and that included what I was wearing (we almost had to throw the whole Maggie away, lol).

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Pink Two Piece: Club Exx

A remodel was coming and it wasn’t for anyone else. I knew I had changed inside and the outside had to reflect that change. I wanted to feel lightness instead of the heavy dark I’d been used to, I began craving color. My taste in music changed. I had to shed my old skin I’d lived in too long in.

For the first time I felt truly alive in more revealing cuts, in pastels, in sparkles, and just about anything with a sense of humor.

I find the purest joy in festival wear because it allows me to see MYSELF how I feel internally. Y’all, what a feeling! People think I’m extra but I just feel blah any other way.

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Top: Little Black Diamond // Bra: bedazzled by Maggie // Shorts: J. valentine

I think we should dress in what and for what makes us happy. This is just a meat shell our souls live inside, why should we be content to be bored with it?

Romper: J. Valentine // Hat: Dollskill // Boots: Demonia

Make sure to follow Maggie on IG // @glitterdagger // and keep up with all her amazing outfits and musings…

LE FEMME FATALE // VANESSA FROOK

Today I’m featuring Kansas Jayhawk babe, Vanessa Frook.

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Top: Forever 21 // Pants: Brandy Melville // Shoes: Vans

When it comes to her style inspiration, she follows some of her favorite bloggers & Youtubers… And I’m def hoping TSO is one of em! I just officially launched my Youtube channel where I’ll be sharing beauty and styling tips will y’all and I’m s t o k e d. But back to my girl Vanessa. She could spend hours on Youtube watching clothing hauls & getting style ideas and inspo.

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Jacket: Forever 21 // Jeans: Topshop

Some of her favorite ladies on Instagram are Tess Christine and Olivia Jade. Her go to fall and winter outfits include lots of black and warm colors, but when summer rolls around, she loves bright girly attire.

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Two Piece: White Fox Boutique

Her absolute favorite summer clothing websites are Australian boutiques like Showpo and White Fox Boutique. Vanessa also enjoys shopping at places like Urban Outfitters, Revolve, and Lulu’s.

“I always go to the sale section first at any website I go to for clothes, I’m a college girl on a budget! I love to dress up but you’ll definitely find me lounging around in a comfy shirt and shorts when I’m at home or studying.”

I’m loving her girly vibes mixed with sophisticated edge. Plus, she’s always adding amazing accessories and casual elements.

LE FEMME FATALE // LEAH OSBORNE

The Style Operandi features women who are absolutely k i l l i n g  it when it comes to this thing we call life + style. Today, I’m excited to feature the stunning Leah Osborne. When it comes to fashion, Leah falls somewhere between high fashion street style and boho chic. Like other featured ladies, she loves black because it’s clean, flattering and sophisticated. When it comes to style, she’s not super adventurous because she knows what she likes… And I’m absolutely on board with that.

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Coat: Michael Stars // Jeans: Madewell // Shoes: Aldo // Earrings: Zara

“I always make sure to have a statement piece. I’m into big, bold earrings.”

According to Leah, her Michael Stars coat makes her feel some type of way…

“I feel more confident in this coat than any other piece I own. For me, it represents how much I have progressed personally over this past year.”

Now she finds herself seeking self-confidence and love from within instead of validation from others and she’s not afraid to celebrate that in her personal and evolving style. This means so much when it comes to dressing for yourself and not for others. After all, you’re the most important person in your own life.

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As far as wardrobe staples go, Leah’s black Baldwin hat, white high-top Vans, and ripped denim jeans are first on the list. Lately, she enjoys mixing casual ripped jeans with dressier fabrics like lace and silk. The contrast offers more versatility, which she enjoys.

“If a nice dinner on the Plaza turns into dollar night at Johnny Kaws, I’ll be dressed appropriately.”

Make sure to follow Leah on IG for more…

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MIX IT UP

I consider my style to be pretty eclectic. From the outfits I wear, to the meals I eat… I’m not a creature of habit. I also LOVE to step out of my comfort zone every now and then. My outfits incorporate a variety of vibes. However, I didn’t always dress like this. I remember the days when the styles I love and the looks that define me didn’t always go over well.

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Sweater: Joie // Watch: Michael Kors // Bandana: Madewell

I remember walking out of my room in a Canadian tuxedo, fur vest, black booties and probably a few turquoise rings. This outfit sounds absolutely “normal” nowadays, but in 2009…? Try again.

Continue reading MIX IT UP

VALENTINE’S DAY 2018

When it comes to gifts, I love anything that allows me to be comfy! That’s why my velvet lounge set is one of my favorites & a great gift for ladies that like to stay cute even while at home. The Anthropologie Voluspa candle smells amazing while the Zum Body Oil is a perfect addition to any self care routine.

hers __ v day gift guide 2018 jpeg1 // Kate Spade New York Yours Truly Adalyn Faux Leather Wallet // $88  2 // Kendra Scott Elisa Pendant Necklace // $50

3 // Free People Velvet Tank Top // $68 4 // Victoria Secret Very Sexy Satin & Lace Cami Set // $52

5 // Anthropologie Limited Edition Voluspa Cut Glass Jar Candle // $28

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6 //  Madewell Velvet Choker // $32  7 // Frankincense + Myrrh Massage Oil by Indigo Wild (4oz Oil) // $13.50

8 // Rag & Bone Parker V-Neck Velvet Camisole // $177  9 // A New Day Women’s Velvet Leggings // $7

10 // Madewell x French GirlTM Sea Polish // $30  11 // Beyond Yoga Crushed Velvet Leggings // $97   12 // Kate Spade New York Jeweled Heart Phone Case for iPhone Cell Phone Case // $45  13 // Victoria Secret Very Sexy Short Satin Kimono // $49.50

14 // Victoria Secret Very Sexy Chantilly Lace & Satin Slip // $48

15 // Zum Bar Frankincense Lavender Soap by Indigo Wild (3oz Bar) // $5.50

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And because I love ya’ll… I made you a playlist that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day

 

 

SUNDAY BEST

Typically clad in leopard print and accompanied by amazing friends, I usually have successful brunches, lunches and dinners. My first choice for brunch is almost always Westport Cafe and Bar and if you ask me, they have the best blue point oysters in Kansas City. Not to mention that whenever you order off of the brunch menu you receive a complementary Bloody Mary, mimosa, or Bellini with your meal. There’s something about that place that totally warms my heart.

Continue reading SUNDAY BEST