Yves Saint Laurent once said “fashions fade – but style is eternal.”
We’ve found that somewhere – deep in the recesses of our individual style histories – there’s always just one thing that stands out in our minds as a crucial element or objet that highlighted a turning point in defining our personal style.
The subject of this Just One Thing Interview is our very own Laura Kartonchik – whose months-long dream of a particular pair of dove grey suede pumps served as opening statement to developing her own Signature Style.
Tamara Glick: Hey Laura, I know we get to chat often, but this is special because we want to know more about how you developed the sophisticated style you’re known for today. So, work with me if you will and think back through your history….
What’s the one clothing item, or outfit, that you believe had the most impact on the development of your Style over all?
Laura Kartonchik: I know! It’s so great when we have a chance to catch up! This one is super clear for me. It has to be my dove grey suede pumps from Gucci. They’re peep toes and have that tiny little double GG logo in gold right at the centre. It was Boxing Day of 2010 and I was 21 years old. I’d been eyeing them since October and they were finally on sale!
They were my very first real high-end designer purchase – and I still wear them, eight years later!
TG: Oh wow! That really is special! Thinking about a purchase for two months, too – they really made an impression on you. Why do you think you were so drawn to them?
LK: Talk about tunnel-vision, right? First of all, they were just gorgeous and luxurious and I really wanted to feel that way in my style. When I finally bought them, I felt like I had earned my spot at the “adult table” of fashion because I had truly invested in a piece.
And I guess too, there wasn’t a colour or item in my entire wardrobe that I couldn’t pair these shoes with. I was drawn to them. They were just everything. I knew they’d be a great investment.
TG: They sound so gorgeous, and who doesn’t love a pretty grey? You waited a long time for them – tell me more about what led up to finally making them your own.
LK: I discovered them while birthday shopping on Bloor Street with my mom that October. They were juuuust out of reach at full-price but I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I remember waiting patiently from that first look and thinking that if they went on sale, I’d just have to buy them!
So when I found them, marked down for Boxing Day, I made them mine!
TG: If you had to really think back to what made these shoes a ‘must-have’ or what buying them taught you?
LK: In a nutshell? Quality materials make all the difference! I have hard-to-fit, narrow feet. But, as soon as slipped those peep toes on, I had an ah-ha moment. Designer labels cater their shoes to a very narrow foot! My Guccis were also my first experience with a real suede shoe, and man are they comfortable!
The colour was another real selling point for me. They’re the most perfect dove grey and that happens to be one of my favourite colours even now. It’s become something of a signature colour for me, both in my home decor as well as in my wardrobe.
That purchase helped me develop the understanding that every fashionista inevitably discovers: that high quality, versatile, designer pieces are, in fact, true investments in one’s self.
TG: You mentioned that you felt that buying those shoes gave you a seat at the “adult fashion table.” What do you mean by that?
LK: The act of purchasing something in the Designer category made me feel so feminine and elegant! Like I had entered an elevated state of fashion and of independence – a designer purchase that was a gift to me, from me.
TG: How have your shoes impacted the development of your personal Style?
LK: Essentially helped me learn to appreciate the art of curating a wardrobe that honours my own personal style instead of running after trends.
After a taste of true quality, I started taking the time to invest in well-made, key pieces rather than ‘hauling’ at fast-fashion chains. My shoes deserved better!
TG: Some people build their outfits from the shoes up. Have elements of those shoes become themes in your wardrobe?
Well, eight years later I’m still wearing those amazing shoes so yes, I definitely think there’s a throughline. My style has evolved into a combination of elegant, feminine, and bohemian – with a little edge. I’ve developed a reliable palette of light neutrals with bright colours to complement them. I always love having a combination of bohemian and feminine touches in my outfits.
TG: Your style has a few different aspects to it – and almost a decade of loving those special shoes, well I’m guessing that there may have been some style lessons you learned the hard way, or things you wouldn’t repeat today?
LK: *laughs* For sure! Well, I wouldn’t wear them with opaque black tights like I used to! Total rookie mistake! But things I will always repeat: I’ll always bring those shoes into every season, and I’ll always pair them with solid black or white, or unexpectedly with bright prints and florals.
TG: Would people be surprised to learn that the signature style you have developed came from just this one thing?
LK: People who know me wouldn’t be surprised at all because they know how focused I get when I hone in on something special!
TG: What piece of advice would you want people to know about developing their Style around Just One Thing?
LK: I really believe that your personal style finds you. And, if you’re anything like me, you will have created your own unique style identity long before you even realize it. If you allow it to just ‘be’, you’ll grow into your style.
I think fashion novices would be pleasantly surprised to learn that everyone has the opportunity to find that one piece that speaks to them and trust that instinct to build a personal style around it. All you really need to do is wait for that item that really speaks to you and go for it. Don’t force it, just listen for it. And, if there’s ever a moment of a “fashion identity crisis,” just take it back to basics and remember that One Thing that spoke to you.
I always ask: “What would the Gucci suede pump do?”