29 of Charlotte’s most stylish men and women
Created and produced by Whitley Adkins Hamlin | the Queen City Style
Photography by Richard Israel
Hair and makeup on location by Josiah Reed
Shot on location at The Visulite Theatre
Whether you shop online, frequent local boutiques or peruse thrift shops, your personal style is a way of communicating to others who you are as an individual.
“I believe that putting effort into our appearance sends the message that we respect ourselves and others,” says Whitley Adkins Hamlin, wardrobe stylist with the Queen City Style and creator and producer of annual The IT List. “While the clothes we wear help tell the story of who we are, I have always felt it is much more than just outer appearance. To me, personal style is conveyed through consistent intentional dress, but it is also communicated by the way we hold ourselves and the way we interact with and treat others.
“My goal each year in the selection of participants is to showcase a diverse reflection of the playmakers for style from all pockets of our thriving, growing and ever-changing city,” Hamlin says. “It would be impossible to capture every stylish person in just one year — which makes the future for The IT List all the more exciting!”
Grazia Walker’s distinctive style — “elegant European with a rebel touch” — was undoubtedly influenced by her experiences growing up near Milan. The retired marine biologist, teacher and cooking enthusiast also recently added children’s book author to her resume — Gregorina the Horseshoe Crab was published in May. Walker, 82, is always looking for new pieces to add to her closet. “I shop in Italy and in the U.S., wherever I am. I love shopping!”
Eight-year-old “Instafunner” Bean Ervin (@thesweetlifeofbean) is a budding fashionista — but her clothes have to be comfortable too. “I love really fancy clothing, but I also like to wear relaxing clothing so I can always dance and run.” Biggest influences include her mom, her grandmother, Barbie, Vogue magazine — and IT List producer “Miss Whitley” Hamlin.
Brit Drozda’s style has been shaped by the places she’s lived, from New York to Florida to Davidson and Charlotte. “Seeing high fashion in New York made me appreciate sophisticated tailored looks; beachy bohemian looks came from Florida; and living in the South brought feminine whimsy and bold color,” says the folk-rock singer-songwriter. Her look? “Feminine, colorful, with nods to ’70s silhouettes and some western elements, be it a cowboy boot or hat — I’m all about a jumpsuit or a long dress,” says Drozda, 33, whose newest album is titled Make Something Beautiful.
Ryan Jor El
“Classic with a twist” is how Ryan Jor El describes his look. “I’ve always pushed the envelope, and a friend advised me to go as far left as I can go — so I do!” Jor El, whose professional resume includes everything from nonprofit founder (Black Fathers Rock!) to wardrobe consultant, appreciates the timeless designs of Ralph Lauren, but his main inspiration stems from “never wanting to look like the next man.” Jor El, 37, tends to shop anywhere and everywhere, though a local favorite is the Woodbury Collection, a custom concierge clothier in Charlotte. “Their fit and styles are impeccable, and attention to detail, phenomenal.”
“Feminine — and a little extra,” is how Nazy Weeks, 36, describes her personal style. “Textures, colors and styles that conjure joy,” influence her look, along with travel and French and Italian artisans. Weeks, who grew up in Florida, counts Capitol, Barney’s and The Webster among her favorite places to shop.
“My style influences are very fluid,” says Tyler Johnson, general manager of Hendrick Motors of Charlotte-Mercedes-Benz. “I typically trend toward classic, vintage and rugged styles. I am old school!” Johnson, 33, admits he does a lot of online shopping, but local favorites include David Watkins’ Abbeydale and “my guys” at Taylor, Richards & Conger and Tabor.
Heather Cinnamon Gwaltney
“I may not always get it right, but I always prefer clothes that are flattering and try not to wear something just for fashion’s sake if it doesn’t suit my shape,” says Heather Gwaltney, 49. “My personal style is most of all characterized by a mix, and I am not loyal to any one look — casual with dressy, dash of classic, a little boho, a tad girlie and almost always a high-low combination.” While Gwaltney’s Charlotte favorites include Capitol and Poole Shop, she occasionally scoops up pieces from fast-fashion chains Zara and H&M and online retailers Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi and Shopbop.
The Twine & Twig co-founder describes her style as “earthy chic. I gravitate towards neutrals and prefer to mix in texture over pattern,” says Elizabeth White, 40, who started the jewelry company in 2013 with her sister, Jacquelyn Stafford (Page 80). Travel destinations have been a major style influence. “I love to grab those one of a kind pieces that no one else has and mix them with my closet staples.”
Simple and eclectic is how Blair Farris describes her style. “I’m a jeans and sneakers kind of girl on most days but love a beautifully chic dress,” says the landscape architect and publisher and editor in chief of digital magazine Peachy. “My grandmother ‘Peachy’ was so chic,” says Farris, 51. “She loved to take us shopping in Dallas and felt like the entire ensemble needed to be pulled together.” Neiman Marcus is a go-to — Farris has curated runway events for the national retailer — while Poole Shop and Sloan are local favorites. “And I always try to make it to the Found Collection trunk shows.”
“I love to discover the undiscovered,” says Marysue Boyle, co-owner of Beau Monde Venues, a collection of local event spaces. “That means no matter where I see something, if it piques my interest, I’m tenacious about tracking it down.” Growing up, Boyle, 33, says her home “was filled with a mix of family finds, one-of-a-kinds and local curiosities. Her mother and grandmother taught her how to be “natural and always thoughtful,” she says. “I try to be thoughtful and expressive through my channels of life, whether it be a new venue, finds for the home, clothing or accessories.”
“My family often jokes and says it looks like I get dressed in the dark, simply because I’m a fan of wearing as many colors as possible at once,” says Davita Galloway, co-owner of DUPP&SWAT creative studio. “I would call my style quirky eclectic,” says Galloway, 33. Influences include her grandmother (“who always looked ‘ready’”), her lifestyle (long days require comfortable clothing) and music. Thrift shops and local boutiques are favorite places to shop. “But I’m able to find something/anything anywhere — literally, anywhere! It’s not really about where you shop but how you wear the shopped items. Ya dig?”
“My style is elegant with a hint of sexy — and always a pair of heels!” says Maria Owen, 53, who admits she dresses to impress her husband. “He is the one that matters to me.”
Favorite labels include Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino and Alexander McQueen, and Owen also pays attention to styles worn by Melania Trump, Jennifer Lopez and Ingrid Vandebosch. “I love the style in Charlotte,” she adds. “I like to support our local stores. We need them! … I do not want to order online if I do not have to. We are a lucky city — we have it all.”
“My father was a big inspiration for me,” says Matthew Means, a real-estate broker and investor at Savvy + Co. “He was a big believer that you can tell a lot about the man by his shoes — polished shoes are a must!” Means, 36, who describes his style as “a mix of timeless and classic with a touch of flair,” also looks to modern style icons Idris Elba, David Beckham, Lewis Hamilton and David Gandy. Means is all about shopping local, including Tabor, Taylor Richards & Conger, House of Abbeydale, Ole Mason Jar and Billy Reid. “Ultimately the man makes the outfit. Never the other way around.”
“I would say my personal style is an ode to classic American prep with a twist of sartorial Italian flair mixed in,” says Noah Williams, a freelance marketing consultant and content creator. Williams, 24, takes fashion cues from classic American designers Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren. Taylor Richards & Conger and Tabor are local shopping go-tos.
“My personal style is a mix of everything!” says Nikki Takemura, director of visual merchandising and events at Capitol boutique. “I’m not afraid of color or even something a little bold,” says Takemura, 27. “I love taking something with an interesting pattern and giving it an edgy flair.” Where does she like to shop? Capitol and Poole Shop, of course.
“I go for bold color, sleek shapes and a wink of razzle-dazzle,” says Sherrard Georgius, a wardrobe stylist at Paul Simon Women, her “home base” for fashion for more than 20 years. “Every trend is not my friend, so I stay with long lines, a collar, mostly solids and creativity — you do you and I’ll do me.” Her style influences run the gamut — from Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman as a kid to Charlotteans Carrie Cook Wilson, Tricia Harrison and Carolyn McMahon. “I love to be a little different,” says Georgius, 49. “I say GO FOR IT in fashion and beyond!”
As a sales associate at Neiman Marcus, Geoffrey Forbes doesn’t have to go far to find great fashion. “I attribute my personal style to the opportunity I have working for a retailer that carries an amazing arsenal of luxury brands,” says Forbes, 52. “I get to see the latest fashion trends every season and decide how to interpret what I see into my own personal style,” which he describes as timeless classic. “I believe personal style comes in the details. I’m a firm believer that with the right accessories, any outfit can go next-level. I always say invest in quality over quantity.”
Boutique owner Karen Perry admits her personal style has evolved since opening Five One Five in Eastover in 2016. “Going to market multiple times a year plays a big role in my personal style and the shop’s,” says Perry, 49. While she describes her style as “California chic — understated but not afraid to be bold,” Perry admits she also draws inspiration from styles on the streets of New York City.
“I think of my style as a mix of modern tailored and leisurely chic,” says Frederick Jabber, a partner at Ike Behar Charlotte, a menswear boutique at Phillips Place. Jabber also operates his own men’s styling business, J. Frederic’s. “My style was influenced early by my uncle, a really cool Cotton Club Jazz artist, and musicians like Miles Davis,” says Jabber, 55. “Daily, I prefer wearing a soft but beautifully tailored Italian-made jacket, trousers and shirt, but after work, comfortable athletic-inspired tops and bottoms.”
Amanda Moran Lanier
Amanda Lanier, a pediatrician at Atrium Health’s Charlotte Pediatric Clinic, doesn’t let a serious job keep her from having a little fun with her wardrobe. “I love mixing my existing closet pieces with new, hip selections, creating a professional yet playful vibe that carries me from the office to dinner on the town (#funworkclothes).” Lanier, 46, attributes her sense of style to her grandmother. “In our little West Virginia town, she was a leader in fashion — always fun and fabulous, and I wanted to be JUST like her!” When it comes to shopping, Moran favors local boutiques including Sloan, Luna, Five One Five and Monkee’s.
Amy Hines draws inspiration from a plethora of sources: “I have been influenced since a young age by arts, architecture and design, religion, music, friends, fitness and travel. I find style to be an artistic expression of that and it makes me happy.” The mother of four, 50, describes her look as “sort of an easy, California” style. Hines loves to shop while traveling, though she also supports her Charlotte friends who own retail shops or host pop-up events. “I have so many influences in traveling and what is going on in other places, but also I have validation that Charlotte has such a creative, intelligent and progressive style. I can see when I travel that Charlotte is on par.”
Alessandra James’ job as a dancer for Charlotte Ballet — she’s entering her 15th season with the company — is a constant source of inspiration, from the works to the costume shop. In addition, “my friends near and far (on Instagram) always give me ideas and influence me,” says James, 36, who describes her style as whimsical, colorful and sparkly. “I love wearing items that simply make me happy.”
Paige Roselle confesses her personal style changes often. “That is the creative and fun part of fashion, but my general goal is a sophisticated, flattering mix of colors, textures, shapes and styles, always with some unexpected piece,” says the lawyer and former owner of Society Charlotte magazine. “The fun part of fashion for me is the hunt,” says Roselle, 48. “Charlotte has amazing clothing stores. … I have favorite dresses from Capitol that I purchased more than 10 years ago. Another must do in Charlotte are the EDIT consignment sales. The selection of designer clothing and accessories is fantastic.”
My personal style has always been very classic, like my dad’s,” says Paris Pullen, 31, a marketing and brand consultant. “Clean and crisp with a a small accent of color, just enough to catch the eye without saying too much.” He prefers Indochino for suits and Filippo de Laurentiis for more casual styles, “and on occasion, I’ll pop in Zara and H&M to grab my basics.”
The other half of the Twine & Twig team admits she’s a bit of an old soul. “I tend to draw inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s … I connect with the style, music and vibe from that time,” says jewelry designer Jacquelyn Stafford, 37. Comfort is key: “In the fall and winter, you will find me in a Canadian tuxedo — I cannot own enough denim. In the spring and summer, I love the Woodstock look — flowy skirts and dresses, and preferably barefoot.”
“I love to mix feminine and masculine silhouettes that have a little bit of interest and special detail,” says Carrie Carickhoff, owner of McKenzie Claire boutique in Dilworth. “A small patterned floral dress with a boyfriend blazer and sneaks is my go-to outfit!” Carickhoff, 41, loves searching for uncommon pieces and collecting vintage finds. “I love to go on the hunt to find beautiful pieces that are unique and special.”
The owner and CEO of William Wilson Clothing claims to be a sartorial Jekyll and Hyde. “I’m a professional first and foremost, but I also have a very childish, immature side to me. That tends to reflect in my wardrobe — I’m usually either dressed in a suit, or I’m relaxed in shorts or jeans.” Wilson, a Navy veteran and self-proclaimed neat freak, gets most of his looks from his own company. “I like classic professional looks that can be transformed into metropolitan nightlife with very little effort.”
Travel and lifestyle blogger Chad Whittington (Chad is Rad) likes to mix modern and vintage pieces “to create a curated look of dapper street style.” Whittington, 37, draws inspiration from people he sees while traveling and from iconic celebrities of yesterday and today. When he’s not traveling, you’ll often find Whittington working behind the bar at Dilworth Tasting Room. “I shop everywhere from thrift shops to online to malls to local shops and boutiques.”
Sarah Olin, 42, describes her style as “quirky, fun and colorful — with a dash of preppy sophistication.” Over the year, influences have ranged from her high-school best friend (“who looked like an Esprit or Benetton ad”) to the Southern women she has worked with as a life and leadership coach. “I have so many Charlotte fashion crushes! Chandra Johnson, Barrie Benson, Lisa Dargan, Pam Stowe and Laura Vinroot Poole to name a few.” SP