By now, the phenomenon that is street style has gone mainstream, arguably becoming more sought after (and likely more Google searched) than the Fashion Week shows themselves. In fact, on Monday, Business of Fashion published an article asking: "Where Does the Business of Street Style Go From Here?" noting the flurry of photographers capturing editors, bloggers, social media influencers, and celebrities "has hit saturation point." The piece goes on to examine the way these "street style stars" — names like Chiara Ferragni, Aimee Song, and Pernille Teisbaek — have managed to pivot, turning their personal brand into a full-fledged business that potentially brings in millions.
Patricia Manfield is one of those women.
The Moscow-born, Milan-raised, and London-based 24-year-old amassed an Instagram following of 250K by blogging on her site The Atelier: She'd catalogue her over-the-top looks, her vacations, her relationship, and suddenly there was an audience, anxious to see what kind of quirky outfit combination she'd come up with next (She admits, though, that she "probably didn't realize [she had a following] until [her] mom, who wasn't much on social media, knew what [she] was wearing all the time."). Now, she's moved beyond her blogger days and is pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter.
If this sounds a bit like trading the runway for the stage, i.e. Carla Bruni, Caroline de Maigret, or Gisele Bundchen, who even had a single or two, you're on the right track. "My case is a lot more different today as I'm a musician and my role [in the industry] is completely different [than when I was a blogger]," she says of the transition. "I think that influencers in a way that share their vision on things and builds a connection with an audience based on their choices."
And while her career path may have shifted, her M.O. (thankfully) hasn't changed one bit: It's still all about style.
"I've always felt really comfortable in my own skin and made clothes my own," she says of her personal aesthetic. "I used to experiment so much as a kid as well. I love playing with clothes and being many women; I go from sexy to sporty to masculine and it makes me feel powerful. Fashion and music go together in so many ways. Whatever I express musically I express in my movements and what covers my body goes along with it. There needs to be synergy. It's another form of expression."
Though Manfield's wardrobe isn't necessarily the most approachable for women who don't have a direct line to labels like Miu Miu and Max Mara, she's become a pro at making maximalism feel, well, not so maximal. "I never overdo," she says. "If I'm dressed up, I tend to go casual with the shoes and if I'm dressed down, heels is the way. On a Sunday afternoon, I'd be wearing track suits [and other] comfy things. But even during fashion week, my go-to look always includes a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, maybe paired with a crazy coat or some crazy shoes. I wear what makes me feel confident; I don't wear things for the camera."
This past Fashion Month circuit showed Manfield's range: One day, she was in an oversized blazer, turtleneck, and thigh-high bubblegum pink boots; the next, she wore a plain white Tee, jeans, and a half-plaid, half-solid-navy asymmetrical Jacquemus coat. For her, it's all about making a statement, however loud or subtle depends on the day, but it all starts with a solid foundation of basics and a fearlessness to experiment with items that may seem outrageous on the runway, but when paired back with something more casual, actually works.
Her ultimate style secret, though, is avoiding "following" trends; sure, she may embrace some of them (for example, she says she's "obsessed with anything Balenciaga right now, because [she's] loving the new image"), but the key is to adapt them so they feel more you.
"I don't usually hate or love trends, so there's nothing I regret [wearing]," she says. "I'm definitely not a fashion victim, I'm pretty rational." In an interview with MatchesFashion, she said: "If people take trends too seriously, everyone ends up looking like clones. Anna Wintour recently said 'trend' is a bad word and she’s so right! You should stick to who you are and what you really like." And that philosophy, especially in today's oversaturated street style realm, couldn't be more important.
The thing about Manfield's approach to dressing is, whether you are a street style star or not, is honing in on key items: For her its clothing with oversized silhouettes, tailored suits (which she considers her only go-to uniform), pieces that feel one-of-a-kind and special, and a reliable pair of jeans (Manfield estimates she owns around 53 pairs). With a more subdued, less peacock-esque approach on the streets (see: the prevalence of Vetements x Champion sweatsuits, Adidas Stan Smith's, and hoodies galore), Manfield gives us that extra push to try something a little less conventional without having to go full-on couture (because, let's be honest, that's just not a reality).
Now, how to put it into practice.
She makes maximalism her business, though it's more of a personal philosophy than a professional one. Here's how that translates in layman's-term: Dress up a band tee with a Chanel bag; make flats feel fancier by adding a printed coat; style a going out top with your favorite pair of corduroys. On paper, it may sound like the same styling tips being sold over and over again, but it's instead about having a thoughtful approach to how you organize your closet, how you get dressed each morning, or even how you approach buying new pieces.
While it may sound weird (and feel even weirder at first) to blur the lines between your Saturday night wardrobe and your Lazy Sunday one, when you pull back the curtain on the wild-and-crazy street style looks we see time and time again, well, that's the ultimate takeaway. And, if the spectator sport of people-watching has, indeed, become so saturated, we need women like Manfield to continue to deliver that level of authenticity.
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