My Style: Kathy Friend

Photography by Sarah Currinder

Kathy Friend, a nationally known Wardrobe Stylist, Personal Stylist and Image Consultant, has styled looks for celebrities in Hollywood, advertising campaigns and political candidates. Whether it be styling for individuals or teaching to aspiring fashion stylists, her passion for fashion is reflected in her life’s work and achievements. Her positive, radiant soul believes that by tapping into your styler, you are tapping into who you are as a person at your core. She lives by the belief that “Your style is more about how YOU feel than about impressing others.”

Name: Kathy Friend 
Residence: Bloomington, Indiana
Where did you grow up? South Bend
Occupation: I like to say that I am a personal stylist or wardrobe stylist. If you have ever seen the show “What Not to Wear,” that’s basically what I do for individuals. I help individuals tap into their inner style and regain self confidence through the way that they look.

What is your earliest memory of a noticeable interest in fashion?
I have always been this way. It’s funny, it’s almost like saying “When did you notice that you have blonde hair?” I don’t know if I ever noticed it. I’ve kind of always been this way. I have always been the kind of person someone would come to if they needed to borrow clothes. 

Who or what influences your style?
I think my current schedule really influences my style. I don’t really have style icons or somebody whose style I really admire. It changes all the time and I have such an appreciation for a lot of different styles. What motivates my style is something that isn’t the norm. If everybody is doing t-shirts and jackets, I won’t do t-shirts and jackets. I try to always do something that’s not what you are going to see on the mannequin at Macy’s. I do go through current fashion magazines like ELLE and InStyle and pull out pictures of things that I really like and I try to build those outfits out of things in my closet. 

What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
I don’t spend a lot of time on Instagram. I try not to follow all the influencers and other stylists. I purposely try not too. I don’t want to be accused of mimicking them. I feel like if I’m constantly looking at their content and styling advice and then I put out a blog or Facebook post that’s similar, then it’s not mine and it’s not original. I try to keep myself away from that so everything you ever see from me is just me coming up with ideas. 

Describe your personal style in four words or one phrase.
Casual sophisticated with a street edge.

What’s your go-to item in your closet?
Currently because of covid any of my align lululemon. Prior to Covid I had one pair, now I have five. Pre-Covid, my go-to piece changed all the time. But, I have this pink jacket that I love to wear and I know looks good on me-I kind of rock it. I also have some pretty killer shoes. They are bright yellow with pink and blue flowers on them that are definitely attention getters. 

Who are your favorite designers, and what do you like about their designs?
I tend to be drawn to pieces that are unique or have something different about them. I fell in love with thrift shops and consignment stores when I was going through a divorce and didn’t have any money but still wanted to shop. Many pieces I love came from that time in my life. I also like local boutiques. I can be inspired by any designer! I have a deep appreciation for the artistic nature of fabric and design. Designers / brands I seem to be drawn to include Johnny Was, Cinq a’ Sept, 3.1 Philip Lim, Stella McCartney, and Alice + Olivia. Nordstrom also has a fun collaboration between SACAI and Hank Willis Thomas that I saw recently that keeps coming into my mind…seriously, I’m all over the place.

Did you ever consider leaving the Indy area? If so, what made you stay?
I say all the time if I would’ve left Indiana, I could be doing really big things. But, I have an 18 year old daughter. Yes, I considered leaving before I became a mom, but my priorities are her. I can’t afford to live in California and my family is here. It doesn’t matter where I live, I can work from anywhere, especially right now. I’ve always wanted to stay close to home because of my family and my daughter. 

What trends are you noticing for (next season’s) fashion?
The thing about trends is that fashion is always a reflection of the mood of the economy and the mood of the people. I think with the state of affairs in the world, we are moving into a phase of comfortable safeness. A lot of fashion trends that I have been seeing are safe, with high collars and no plunging necklines. I think now that there is a change in the white house, that always creates a change in fashion. The color palette that has been popular has been muted and there has not been a lot of brightness. But now with spring, everything seems so bright. There is a lot of color. My hope is that because people have been so safe at home, even if we’re still wearing safe pieces like tracksuits and loungewear, that we can break out a little bit and find some light or some color. 

What’s next for you? 
Covid has forced me to really think about my goals. For a long time, I’ve had goals of a bigger presence online and doing more virtual things, things that are replicable, so I don’t have to travel as much. My daughter plays basketball, so I won’t travel around her basketball schedule because I want to see her play. My ability to not travel is important and Covid forced me to reinvent the way I did business.

What short and long term goals are on your list?
Short term, I have a lot of new things coming with really cool virtual online shopping tools where you can shop straight from a video. I’m talking and showing you different clothes on one side of the screen, it’s a shopping tool so you can click on the item and buy it right there on the screen. I am also doing a lot more virtual confrontations. So my short term goal is to get more of that virtual stuff up and going. In regard to long term goals, I am the president of the Style and Image Institute. I teach stylists how to take measurements of somebody, how to determine body shape, and the questionnaire that you use. That’s typically like a two or three day event and we sit down and we go through it. My long term goal is to do that virtually and keep the numbers small, maybe only one or two people in a group so that it is personalized and structured to your specific goals. That’s kind of my 12 to 15 month goal. 

Define fashion.
The fashion industry to me is an extension and expression of art. As far as personal fashion, I think it’s an expression of who you are on the inside. I think everything that you have here is telling the world who you are and how you want to be treated. It’s showing the people around you what your mood is. I always thought if you’re not feeling it today, put on your brightest lipstick and your favorite shoes and it will help your mood and I honestly believe that’s the truth.

Worst fashion trend?
I will go off for an extended period of time on cropped pants. I did a Facebook post on cropped pants like a year and a half ago and it’s like my most popular post with hundreds and hundreds of likes. People are very passionate about their cropped pants. Let me tell you something about cropped pants-they don’t look good on anybody. They hit you at the widest point of your leg, so they make your leg look chunky. It’s like you can’t make a decision between pants and shorts. I really hate them.

Best fashion trend?
I always like to push animal prints on people, because I think leopard, cheetah or even zebra, really elevate your whole look even if you have just something very simple like jeans and a white t-shirt. Simply adding an animal print sneaker elevates your look. Also, leopard print has been kind of a print of sophistication for ever and it always will be.

Last but certainly not least, name your favorite fashion icon. 
I don’t really have a favorite fashion icon. Of course I like Sex and the City and the very distinct styles of those women. I love the idea of that, and I love the idea of everybody being able to relate to one of those four women.

Stay up to date with Kathy Friend on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

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