Karen Leano is anything but ordinary. In addition to running her Instagram page, @parisandalatte, which has over 14K followers, she is a jewelry designer, mother of two children and wife. How did Leano, a first-generation Filipino, make all of her fashion dreams come true?
Her story began when she landed her first gig at Dolce & Gabbana as a visual merchandiser in New York City before attending Seton Hall University. But when she entered college, she decided to major in something far from fashion: business management information systems. “I knew I wanted to be in the fashion world, but I also wanted to make sure I had a degree that I could fall back on in any industry,” Leano told Yahoo Lifestyle. Leano was born in New Jersey after her parents immigrated from the Philippines in the ’70s. “I feel like in general, a lot of Filipinos and Asian families … try to push you more towards the medical/lawyer route, but my parents [have] always been openminded,” says Leano.
Fresh out of college, she landed a job as a production manager at Tommy Hilfiger in New York. It was her first big corporate fashion job. She was able to work with the company’s fashion designers, take their ideas to overseas factories and source the best fabrics to produce the label’s womenswear and accessories collections.
After five years at Tommy Hilfiger, she packed her bags and moved to Minnesota, got married and had two children. Because her husband works in the airline industry, Leano feels fortunate that her family has been able to travel the globe, visiting Portugal, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Spain and more. Her kids say the Amalfi Coast is their top favorite.
Over time, she documented her travels on Instagram, but she quickly noticed that her followers were asking more about her outfits than her travels. She began to dedicate more of her posts to showcase her style. At the same time, Leano started another passion project: making jewelry at home in Minnesota. “I literally walked all the streets of Minneapolis and showed little boutiques my pieces and got a lot of orders that way,” says Leano. She would also wear her jewelry on her Instagram page, which helped generate publicity, which led her to start Cayetano Legacy Collection with her two sisters. It’s a line of bold statement necklaces priced between $59 and $179. “They’re all handmade in the Philippines… So they’re beautifully hand-fixed, hand sewn [with] all genuine gemstones.”
Overall, Leano’s style can best be described as “everyday chic” or “everyday luxe,” she says, with an additional “element of luxe.”
For Yahoo Lifestyle’s #MyStyle video series, which you can watch at the top of the page, we asked Leano to show us what to wear for Thanksgiving for three different occasions: hosting, dinner with the in-laws and Friendsgiving. For all three looks, she chose one versatile item. “It’s this one sweater that I also live in too [laughs]. It’s a cream off-the-shoulder sweater. It’s warm, it’s soft, it looks very luxe, chic but easy.”
For hosting, Leano suggests styling the sweater with skinny jeans and brown suede boots. Comfort is key here. For dinner with the in-laws, Leano switches her off-the-shoulder silhouette to a cowl neck and pairs it with cream wide-leg pants and nude pumps. “I definitely want to keep it somewhat conservative,” says Leano. For her last look, she wanted to go a little “extra” with it. She styled the sweater with edgy black patent-leather-like trousers. “It helps show off the waist,” she says. She tops off the look with sleek black pumps and a black quilted purse.
Below, you can copy Leano’s three Thanksgiving looks using just one sweater.
Ann Taylor Off-The-Shoulder Sweater
Just add skinny jeans and knee-high brown suede boots for a comfy-chic all day look. After all, you’ll be cooking and decorating all day so you want to wear something you can move in, but doesn’t look frumpy.
Levi’s Women’s Slimming Skinny Jeans
Nine West Cheyin Cylinder Heeled Boots
Thanksgiving with the in-laws
A stylish monochromatic look to meet the in-laws. It’s conservative but tailored and elegant. The red bag adds a punch of color to the look.
H&M Wide-Leg Pants
Marc Fisher Tuscany Pumps
Zac Zac Posen Earthette Accordion Shoulder
Show off your edgier wardrobe pieces while relaxing with your gal pals. You’ll be ready to go out after too, if that’s part of the agenda.
Kitri Eleonora Vinyl Trousers
& Other Stories Pointed Satin Pump
Forever 21 Quilted Crossbody Bag
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