Achea: This is part 2 of Ms. Mary Conley of Living LeReve. Last episode we talked about how we knew each other and our husbands and our lives as NBA wives. This episode I want to focus on Living LeReve. So, you are into fashion and this obviously means you have to stay on top of the trends that are changing so frequently. You have also styled people with different body types and different personality types. Can you talk about your take on your personal style?
Mary: I love fashion and could very well dress out of the box if I was in the right situation, but being based in Memphis, and are which is not very fashion forward. And when I’m in Columbus it is usually during the summer when I dress more laid back. However, for away games when I’m somewhere like New York I wear something way more fashion forward. I try to dress the part and it is always fun getting to step out of the box a little bit and dress certain ways. I started dressing myself, and my husband mentioned how some people on his team needed help dressing themselves. I wanted to dress Michael, but then he hired your brother and I was like hello hire me I am your wife. Brandon is incredible and I could never do what Brandon did, so it all worked out for the best. The two guys that he did have, I was able to help them a lot. I had to get custom jeans and shoes and that was a challenge but it was pretty fun to get to see them feel good in what they were wearing. The players have their 10 minutes of shine walking to the locker room where all the press is and it was a good start for my blog. It was also nice to get to know the guys personally and feel like I am friends with them and not just their wives. I haven’t styled anymore men since then, but I would like to. Then I styled for a magazine and that was really fun, and it was nice because it was more freelance and it wasn’t necessarily every month. I still got to be with my son all the time, but I also still got to style and meet a lot of people. I loved doing it so much but it was hard while being a mom because I needed to find time to pump so I would pump in my car. Then I had to figure out where I was going to store the mile and it was stressful that I felt like I should just be at home nursing my child. Once the issue would come out I would feel so good about it because I put the outfits together. It was important for me to be doing something for myself. I am no longer working with that magazine but I have been working for Memphis fashion week for the past couple of years. I have been on the board for three years now and it has grown tremendously. The first year I did a styling event at one of our malls and hired all the models and stylists and contacted all the stores. The following year I was the head runway stylist and that was a lot of fun and a very different experience. They were very long days and it was hard while having little ones and it was a big learning process.
Achea: What was your moment when you defined or found your own personal style. And then being someone who works and styles other people how do you work and help them find theirs.
Mary: As far as my personal style it changes all of the time. I like to wear flannels and cut off shorts. I like to wear faux leather pants and blazers. It just depends on what I’m feeling where I am going, what I’m doing, and I can pull it all off because I’m comfortable in it. As far as other people, I tell them that same thing; as long as you are comfortable and feel confident in it, it doesn’t matter what it is you can pull it off. But it takes a lot of encouraging to get people into something new. If you feel embarrassed in it, it won’t look good. I remember Brandon was trying to get Michael into skinnier pants, and watching them go through this process helped me learn how to help my clients. That is the most rewarding part is when you help get them to feel confident in what they are wearing. I had a client who I did a closet edit for and I put a bunch of looks together for her and she was unsure and didn’t think that things went together. I told her if you don’t feel comfortable in it, I won’t even pull it because regardless of if I think it looks good together, if she doesn’t feel comfortable in it she won’t pull it off or wear the outfit. Most of the people I have styled for don’t have their own personal style, and they don’t even have to decide exactly what their style should be. It is just whatever they have in their closet and we can mix and match and do a little bit of shopping and just help make them feel good. That is what I think style is all about.
Achea: What is your guilty pleasure? Like as far as fashion what will you buy a thousand of even if you don’t need another one?
Mary: Probably jeans, it used to be shoes and I still have a million shoes in my cart. However, at this time in my life I’m just not wearing any of them. I can’t stop buying jeans though.
Achea: What is your favorite brand of jeans?
Mary: I really like lejaunce. I just got a pair last year and they are my go to because they fit well and are just so soft but they don’t stretch out. I have always loved Frame denim, I got really big on them a few years ago. Rag and Bone has great classics. And now these hemlines, there are just so many different hemlines and they are all just so slightly different I have to have them all.
Achea: Okay, but seriously not all jeans are created equal and not just in their fit. I’m talking about like color. There are certain blues that don’t look good with black. So to say you only have like four pairs of jeans. HOW? Like I would love to only have four pairs.
Mary: They probably just don’t wear jeans a lot then; because if you do you need a variety. Even for denim on denim that can look great but you have to have the right color, the right shade, all of that.
Achea: Yes, absolutely! So for me, my go to brand is Page Denim because I love the transcend that are like leggings. I just like a waist band that is forgiving.
Mary: I will tell you right now the jeans I am wearing are still maternity pants. I am only four weeks post-partum, but they are comfortable and the waist band is still stretching, and my waist has not gone back to its normal size.
Achea: No shame in wear pants that are comfy until you’re back down to your normal size. The other jeans I really like are Current and Elliot.
Mary: Their entire clothing line is great!
Achea: Oh it is amazing. For me, I change sometimes to for the different hats I wear. You could see me in a full suit for a meeting, but even in that I like a good structured pantsuit because I go for that girl boss vibe. In my casual look I love the tomboy-chic look. It’s almost like that Madewell, Current Elliot look.
Mary: You pull that look of so well. When we go to the games you always show up in the cutest sneakers but are still so fashion forward
Achea: Yeah that is just my own personal style. I just love that look. I wish that I liked to wear jeans more and I am trying to get myself to wear them but I just can’t with the button and the zip.
Mary: It’s just not comfortable!
Achea: It’s not, and if I go out and eat something I need to have some forgiveness. Even my pants today are like elastic but like that trouser-trout pant hybrid so there is a line down the side but they are elastic!
Mary: Well luckily joggers are really in and track pants too.
Achea: It’s that athleisure look that is really a big thing. You said that you can basically pull of anything as long as you are confident, so what would be the other thing you would say to someone in developing their personal style?
Mary: That is a good question. I think it is great to just go to fashion blogs or Pinterest to gauge what you like. There are a lot of different trends, and maybe you do want to develop your own signature style. Maybe you want to go for a more tomboy look, or maybe a more feminine look. I like to go for all of it but my friend Theresa was like oh I never wear a pair of jeans and it wasn’t until I looked back at her Instagram that I was like oh wow you never wear jeans.
Achea: What does she wear then?
Mary: She is always wearing skirts and dresses. High waisted pleated skirts, cute little dresses and tunics with tights. She is still always dressed super cute. I would never wear those things, but I still like it. I think it would be a good start to look online and look at magazines. I have always done that. In college, I would go through magazines and cut things out and tape them to my wall and try to recreate the looks. I went and bought every version of Carrie Bradshaw’s outfits when Sex and the City came out from Tj Maxx. I think it would be helpful to find an icon that you like.
Achea: Who was your icon?
Mary: I don’t know if I have one. I always think of that question but there are just too many people I like and so many different styles. I think Rihanna is super cool and I like the way she looks but she also wears things that I would never wear but she Is able to pull them off. I wish I had a better answer for that.
Achea: Its funny because when someone asks me that I have different celebrities for the different moods that I am in. So, like for me in a dress up mood I love Jennifer Lopez on American idol. I like Sarah Jessica Parkers style as well. My most recent icon is a fashion influencer Karissaro Rodriguez. She is AMAZING. I also really love some of the stuff that Laura Govan does because she is tomboyish and has a way with sneakers. To your point, there is some things that these individuals can pull off. I don’t always have the confidence and the way I was raised and being from the Midwest, there are certain things that I was taught I should be a little bit more modest.
Mary: There are somethings that I wouldn’t want to be comfortable in, and I wouldn’t want my husband to be comfortable with me in. Not to say my husband can tell me what I can and cannot wear but sometimes I would like him to question my choices. You should still leave some things to the imagination.
Achea: Absolutely, you don’t want to be adjusting yourself.
Mary: Even in a tight fitted dress. I used to wear them all the time, and in the right occasions I still might. However, you still have to be self-conscious if it is tight because there are some things you need to consider.
Achea: Exactly. And Listen this whole fashion thing, and all of the standards that we see in magazines and this picture-perfect thing that we have to look like. Even on Instagram, everyone is trying to be an Instagram model and getting these but implants and injections. It is like no shade, if that’s your look wear it, it is your money and you can spend it on that it is whatever. But I would think that in this day and time we have a harder time finding our own identity because of social media. What is your take on that?
Mary: Well currently I’m glad I don’t have a daughter and have two sons because it is really scary to think about what it will be like in the future. Even right now it is just not real. Even the styles that go with it, there are girls in high school or middle school with see through leggings and their entire stomach showing in their crop tops and that is just not appropriate, but it is what they see so why wouldn’t they wear it.
Achea: And it is also what they believe the boys like.
Mary: Exactly and it is just not the right eyes, you don’t want those individuals looking at you.
Achea: That is a good point I like that.
Mary: So again, I don’t have a daughter right now and I am totally okay with that.
Achea: I do, and my seven-year-old daughter just asked me for a bikini. My whole take on bikinis is that it is just a bathing suit, and I am trying not to make a mountain out of a mole hill so to speak. She is basically into makeup and I am trying not to make it into a big deal because I don’t want her sneaking and putting it on because there should be a balance. So, she asked me for a bikini and I was like okay, I want you to have something to look forward to when you are older. But then I thought this is probably the best time for her to wear a bikini because you don’t have a whole lot going on right now. So, I am at Target and I am okay with her wearing it if it is an appropriate bikini and not too grown up. I go and see this bikini that is like a bikini top but it is designed like a mermaid’s gills and then there are the bottoms and a cover-up that is designed like a mermaid tail and I think okay that is appropriate for a seven-year-old. She loved it, but I knew that her father was going to be shocked. If you and Michael decide to have another kid that is a whole different type of relationship between a dad and a daughter. He still sees her like a little baby, so I think it is a lot harder for the dad to see their girls transitioning. It is tough in this space working with women and they find much of their validation in how they look.
Mary: Yes, and even for me, when I hang out with a lot of my friends I just don’t know how their bodies could be natural. I work out a lot and I have thick thighs to go along with my butt, and I have a smaller waste but not like the Instagram models. I don’t have breast implants but a lot of my friends do and sometimes I think maybe someday I will when I am around them, but then when it’s just me and Michael I think no I don’t actually want implants. It is hard when you are surrounded by that because you want to be like that too because they always look good. I think about that a lot and it helps to have a grounded husband and spouse.
Achea: full disclosure, I think getting plastic surgery done is fine if that’s what you want to do. We are both moms and gravity is not on our side so if you need to get things nipped, tucked to look the way you want because it won’t respond the same way to diet and exercise.
Mary: but even just to get back from having babies its hard. Once I know I am done having babies I will take a look and see if there is anything I want to have done.
Achea: We are getting ready to wrap up here and it has been so fun getting to do this with you. For some final thoughts if you could say a coupe things that the listeners can remember about them finding their own style and just empowering them as women what would you say?
Mary: For all of you listening I just think it is important to stay true to who you are. I am an influencer and that is what I do or a living, but as much as you are influenced by us still stay true to who you are and don’t let anything you aren’t comfortable with define who you are. It is just really important to be happy and most importantly if you are trying to be someone who you aren’t or wear something you aren’t comfortable in you will not be happy.
Achea: Well, that is good stuff and it has been a pleasure. Don’t forget Living LeReve follow her on Facebook and Instagram.