Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Melanie Kobayashi is a middle-aged fashion blogger and artist who has proven that you can be stylish at any age! She successfully runs her own blog, Bag and a Beret and here, she talks to REglam about her personal style and how she thinks the fashion industry has evolved!
Emma: What made you think of the name for your blog, “Bag and a Beret”?
Melanie: When I started blogging I loathed having my picture taken. As a result, I thought I would wear a paper bag over my head for outfit photos. That idea quickly died when I found out my beret, an accessory I used to wear almost daily, wouldn’t stay on the paper bag.
Emma: Speaking as a middle-aged woman, how do you think fashion has changed over the past couple decades? Do you think these are positive changes?
Melanie: Each decade is usually associated with a certain style, e.g., bell bottoms in the ’60s. The fashion industry moves so quickly now and the styles of the past are borrowed with such frequency that there seems to be neither the time nor cohesion in the fashion industry for a signature style to evolve organically from our social context.
This fast fashion feels shallow, and the waste that comes from low prices/high consumption is destructive to the earth. Channeling clothing production to countries with the cheapest labour supply creates huge obstacles for small designers in countries where costs are high.
I am happy that thrift shopping and eco-conscious consumption are becoming more popular, which may eventually help offset our fashion gluttony. And online sales give small makers access to markets that would not have been accessible in the past.
Another positive is that the greater variety in fashion seems to have generated more acceptance of people who dress outside flash-fashion trends.
Emma: When you first started this blog, what was your initial goal that you hoped to achieve?
Melanie: My initial goal in blogging was to blast into the world the electric energy generated by the harmony between my clothes and my soul. In the context of a city dominated by neutral colours and exercise-wear, I wanted to connected with other women, especially those over 40, who felt the same, who recognized the power of self care, community care, and world care through style. The positive vibes created by joyful style are wonderfully infectious. I didn’t know what the results would be, but the connections I’ve made with a variety of women have exceeded my expectations.
Emma: Has that goal changed? If so, what is it now?
Melanie: The early years of my blogging were more about experimenting with style and finding my “fit.” Now that I have become even more confident in myself and my style choices, I have also started to blog about other aspects of my life and views of the world, with a growing focus on comedy.
This next phase will explore style art-making and character-styling through video and photography. I’m still working it out, but one thing is for certain – my blog will never be a blog giving makeup tips and fashion advice! This confidence to explore has come as a direct result of the complete acceptance I feel within the blogging community.
Emma: What is unique about Vancouver Street Style compared to other places that you’ve travelled to?
Melanie: I haven’t traveled much in recent years, and when I did I was not tuned into style the way I am now to note geographic/cultural style distinctions. Vancouver street style features neutral colours and stretchy fabrics, which can have a numbing effect. I suspect that this style is a natural extension of our geography and the comparatively short history of the city, including its young art and architecture scene. Everything seems to be in its infancy and I am excited to see how we mature as a place in all these aspects.
Emma: What are three fashion pieces that you consider, every woman, no matter what age to be a staple in your closet?
Melanie: I don’t really have staple pieces in my closet because my moods vary day to day; rather, I have pieces which I wear in heavy rotation over a two-week period but then they’ll go into hibernation for months or more. I would identify them more as pieces-of-temporary obsession than as staples.
I do pay attention to my hair though. At the moment I have two staple styles: 1) sticking straight up; 2) pixie style. Each style works perfectly to complement/create a mood: super woman for the former; demure sophisticate for the latter.
Photos from: Melanie Kobayashi
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