Secrets of Style: Beautiful at every age

Ryann Petit-Frere

Communications research specialist at the Wisconsin Technology Council

Signature style: Energetic, professional, young; yet mature and regal. I usually wear skinny jeans, a white shirt and a blazer to work. I always like to pick out clothing that’s eye-catching and different.

Shoes or handbags: Shoes whisper, handbags yell. There’s no such thing as, “It’s just a shoe,” you know?

Signature items: Coats by Shelli Seagal and Tahari; Seven Jeans; Coach handbags. And my red scarf—I wear it as a wrap, as a scarf and I wear it over my coat, belted.

Favorite steals: I’m a sucker for a sale at Express, and I love the Victoria’s Secret summer dress collection—they’re $30–$40 each. I have them in every color. It takes the right accessories to dress them up.

Fashion disasters: All of my phases were influenced by music. There was a time in high school when I was into Sublime and reggae. I had braids, and I would wear a cotton poncho with sandals and baggy jeans. Then I went through my ska phase. I’d wear brown polyester pants, a women’s polo shirt and a studded belt. Then it was punk rock with all black, Chuck Taylors, a studded belt and bracelets.

What women should splurge on: In the book of Ryann, one must splurge on pieces that make you feel incredible. For me, that’s dresses.

Elizabeth Wewerka
 

Owner, Lady Moxie

Signature style: My signature style is no signature. I like to shake it up and try new things ... to dress for my mood. I’ll wear anything from boho chic to minimalist to (gasp!) old school St John’s.

Fashion obsession: Currently I’m all about belts … big, huge ones. I keep coming up with new outfits that center on them.

Favorite steal: An 18K gold and coral cocktail ring that I got for two bucks. I love how it makes me think of a trip I took to Hawaii.

Favorite splurges: My Shanel Regier custom-made corset or my brown Vicmatie boots. The corset was made for me by one of the designers I carry at Lady Moxie and I like it because it fits me like a glove. The boots I got at Lori’s in Chicago and I like them because they are very unique, “tough girl” boots.

Best boutique: Lady Moxie. But if I’m shopping elsewhere, I’d have to say Woldenberg’s; the staff is so good at servicing the customer, even the ones who only shop the clearance racks. I remember going there before I moved to Madison. I was looking at the furs and one of the ladies asked me if I wanted to try one on. I told her they were lovely but I could only afford vintage. She tsked and waved her hand at me, pulled one of the coats off the hanger and had me wrapped in it in about two seconds. When someone can make you feel special like that, it makes you a fan for life.

Sarah Botham
 

Owner, Botham, ink (a PR/strategic planning business), VP and director of marketing, Botham Vineyards & Winery and faculty associate in the UW–Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication

Signature style: Classic but fun.

What every woman needs in her closet: A great pair of well-fitting, comfortable jeans; the iconic little black dress that can go everywhere, dressed up or down; something that makes her feel incredibly sexy ... even if no one else ever sees it; great shoes; confidence and a genuine smile.

Fashion obsession: I’ve had a weakness for pretty shoes since I was a little girl—not much has changed.

Favorite budget buy: A mid-thigh-length, three-season, fitted shift dress—very 1960s, in black/white herringbone. It hugs me like it was custom made for my body, moves well, is incredibly comfortable, looks great paired with white sneakers, sassy red flats or simple black pumps. I’ll wear it until it falls apart.

Favorite splurge: I can always talk myself into a new pair of shoes—independent of price. Store you wish we had: A locally owned spot that caters to tall, thin, fit women who aren’t twenty-five and aren’t dead yet. My girlfriends and I would flock to such a place.

Susan Bakke
 

Owner, Chauette (located in the Paoli Schoolhouse Shops), and board member, Foundation for Madison Public Schools and the Madison Children’s Museum

Signature style: Classic with a contemporary edge.

Store that best captures you: I buy a lot at Sak’s Fifth Avenue. I like Karen & Co.—I think she carries sophisticated looks. I shop at Woldenberg’s a lot for special occasion dresses and at Jan Byce for more casual things.

What every woman needs in her closet: Black dress pants and a black jacket. A great pair of jeans. A well-worn leather blazer. A really sexy cocktail dress.

Best budget buy: I just bought a dress at T.J. Maxx for $20 and wore it to my nephew’s wedding rehearsal dinner in St. Thomas. It’s a brown and white animal print. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it!

Favorite splurge: A cherry red patent leather Valentino hobo bag from Sak’s.

Fashion faux pas: An ugly purple jumpsuit! Back in the ’70s and ’80s, women had jumpsuits with big belts and googly sunglasses. I looked like a goofball!

What I’ve learned about style: I didn’t have enough money [in my twenties]. Now I have money and I can buy whatever I want. I’ve always tried to keep up with the times. I actually think I look better than I did in my twenties and thirties! I know how to shop for my figure.

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