How To Compose Yourself
How To Compose Yourself
Sep 04, 2017 LifeWear
All in layers.
Your personality and your outfit have multiple layers. Some multi-faceted individuals showed how they put together their autumn and winter looks.

As a first-generation Chinese-American, Diane Chang grew up in San Francisco eating her grandmother’s home-cooked Sichuan cuisine.

“I didn’t appreciate it as a child,” she says. “As an adult, I realized the intense effort that she put into making everything from scratch—growing her own vegetables, making her own hot sauce. In 2009, I went into the kitchen with her and started taking notes. It was the first time that I realized, this is important for me to continue the tradition. She was in her 90s already at the time.”

Diane called her Po-Po, and she passed away in 2015. Diane founded her catering company, Po-Po’s, as both a way to express herself and her love for food and to connect with her grandmother. Diane caters events ranging from 5-course intimate dinners for families to corporate functions for hundreds. No matter the kitchen, she makes herself at home by taking a vintage portable turntable and a couple of records— usually old soul. “I’m always listening to music when I cook,” she says. “I need that inspiration.” It’s the perfect backdrop for her creations. “A lot of what I do is based on memory,” she says. “I create my own hybrid recipes based on ingredients that she’s used, and her philosophies.”

She continues, “She communicated through food. That’s how she showed her care and her love. When I became an adult, I realized that I use food and cooking as a way of showcasing my innermost thoughts and emotions. That’s where I feel deeply connected to her. She passed on that way of communication to me.”

“Layering is a necessity. I’m out all day. It’s the key to walking to the farmer’s market, to Chinatown, then to my kitchen, then to someone’s home. If I have to go to an event, it’s important for me to prep in advance what I’m going to wear. Let’s say I’m wearing a nice sweater and I don’t have time to change, I will pull something over it, like a dress shirt or something big, just to keep myself clean. Then I pare down as the night goes on. When I spend money, it’s really on basics. I like unique pieces paired with simple, well-tailored basics.”

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Max Poglia, a Brazilian-born designer of Italian heritage, has a Japanese purview when it comes to his vision for the knives he makes—which are often comprised of bone, wood, horn, and steel.

“No two are the same,” he says. “Our knives are hand drawn, there is no template, it’s freestyle. The whole process is the old-school way. They’ll always be different. That’s part of the beauty. We appreciate imperfection. The term in Japanese is ‘wabi-sabi’—it’s an acceptance of the imperfections and simplicity. That’s something I really value.”

His philosophy also extends to the perfectly imperfect hats, bags, blankets, corkscrews, and other manly ephemera he crafts for his brand, Poglia. The objects are all things he has a deep affinity for, and the brand’s inception was inspired by his grandfather who had a hardware store for 50 years in Brazil and would give out promotional knives for special occasions. Max thinks he’s evolving as a designer. “You’re always improving, learning, and making mistakes,” he says. “A lot of things from Poglia come from beautiful mistakes.”

“People assume because I’m from Brazil I don’t know how to dress for winter—but it’s super-cold in the south where I’m from. So, you always have so many layers, even indoors. I like to mix workwear with simple pieces. I love to have a classic outfit, and a simple T-Shirt, something I can layer and love. It can be cold and rainy but inside you go to a meeting and it’s hot. A lot of layers is a big part of my personal style. I love leather and military jackets. Sometimes I wear two or three jackets on top of each other.”

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To Kimberly Drew, her chosen field was destiny. “My family always encouraged artistic expression,” she says. “I could grow up and be anything that I wanted to be and we consistently went to museums. Art has always been a part of the ecosystem of my life.”

Kimberly is a writer whose work goes well-beyond the written page. She is the social media maven behind an influential Instagram account which highlights black culture in the visual arts. It’s led to her being an in-demand lecturer on the university circuit. “I love connecting with young people,” she says. “The ways in which I navigate the art world are pretty unconventional. I would’ve loved to have been presented with more options for what a typical life in the arts looks like as a student. They’ve been filled with so much information, it’s your job to make it relatable. The art world is quite opaque—I want to make sure that the words that I’m using are as inclusive as possible.”

“My way of engaging with new people is through outfits. I’m always thinking, ‘How I can communicate something about myself?’ I like earrings or something that can be a conversation starter. I relish the opportunity to dress down. I try to find a happy balance. The term athleisure is hilarious, because it’s really just well-fitted relaxed clothes which is generally my style. I love a relaxed pant and a good sweater. I’m such a sweater lady. Layering provides you with opportunities to build upon the story that you’re trying to tell.”

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