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Finding Strength Through Personal Style

Finding Strength Through Personal Style

by Melissa Magsaysay

Right now, dress up may seem frivolous, but for some, it’s a direct path to optimism and staying inspired.

Television personality and stylist Melissa Chataigne has climbed up on her kitchen counter wearing an embellished caftan by Baacal, delicately holding a cocktail in one hand and confidently perched a few feet above the ground indicating that she’s done this before.

“I was channeling Diana Ross,” she says of her art direction. “When I think of my style, I relate to a glamorous boho vibe. My style icons (in addition to Ross) are Beverly Johnson and Pat Cleveland. Strong, black, sexy and confident women!”

Celebrity hairstylist Maranda Widlund can relate. Not only has she doubled down on her glamorous appearance during quarantine, she has compiled her newfound over the top aesthetic into a fictitious character named Ivana.

“(Ivana) is already in all of us,” says Widlund about cultivating her quarantine persona and accompanying personal style. “She’s not just an idea and comes out when we stop giving a S*%#.”

The creative outlet and hours spent clad in Christian Siriano, Dolce & Gabbana and Brandon Maxwell, have kept the hairstylist going with humor and of course, glamour while not being able to work on set. She does her full hair and makeup and dreams up hilarious scenarios in which Ivana can thrive. Her latest Ivana shoot, taken out in the desert, channeled the work of the late fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh. Windlund adds, “Naomi (Campbell) was definitely there in spirit. I would describe my personal style as “tequila and quaaludes.”

To that end, Chataigne states just how powerful style can be in rewiring our mindset no matter how (or rather, especially when) the days morph into a hazy blur and sweats seem like the best choice each morning. “Style can instantly transform how we feel and improve our mindset,” she says. “If I’m working from home, I like to get dressed up because it physically prepares me to work. I always like to put on a stylish workout outfit because it gets me motivated to sweat. Style is completely a way to express myself even when doing mundane activities.”

For Jennifer Dresel, that expression is through consistently powerful pops of color, which she wears daily whether in the form of a printed Mary Katrantzou Lennox dress or the cobalt blue Rae wrap dress by Sachin & Babi, punctuated with a pair of multi-colored pom pom tassel slides.

“I love color, and I love wearing it in a way that showcases my dynamic personality,” says the Boston-based Dresel. “Whether that's a pattern that accents my curves just so, or a bright color that pops in a room full of neutrals, I love making a statement!”

She chalks up her style as equal parts Lizzo and style influencer, Blair Eadie. “Blair is always rocking bold colors and patterns, and Lizzo is just so perfectly who she is - who better to inspire me?”

“Style is my light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dresel has been adding new pieces to existing closet staples in order to keep her wardrobe fresh and her spirits high.

“I've been shopping my closet and becoming newly inspired by pieces I haven't worn in a while. This means I'm rediscovering old favorites that I can't wait to wear again on the other side of this! Style is my light at the end of the tunnel.”

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