by Whitley Adkins | photographs by Amy Kolo
Eboney Foster works full time as a technology consultant in Wells Fargo’s mortgage division, but she is most recognizable to Charlotte fashion lovers as a part-time stylist at J.Crew.
“I used to think I loved clothes, but the more I got into it, what I really love is the fabrics and textiles — all the silks, jacquards, heavy poplin, taffeta, tulle, sequins,” says Foster, 42. “I’m very nostalgic about certain fabrics, because when I was growing up my mom would take me downtown where the Belk department store used to be. In the basement, you could buy cut fabric. She would always go to the fashion shows at Montaldo’s uptown. You would have lunch, and all the ladies would come out in designer fashions. I remember touching the dresses and picking out fabrics. I don’t buy anything without touching it.”
When it comes to brands, Foster has a clear favorite. “Ninety-eight percent of my wardrobe is by J.Crew. Only 11 pieces in my wardrobe are not J.Crew,” says Foster, who joined the preppy retailer seven years ago. “I try to wear other stuff, but nothing works like J.Crew for me. I hunt down the old stuff on Poshmark and other sites.” Foster loves the brand so much she and a friend run an Instagram account (@blackinjcrew) featuring Black people wearing the brand.
Foster, who lives in east Charlotte, credits Ariene Bethea of Dressing Room Interiors with helping her source home decor, including the hot pink desk in her closet. “I’ve always had my closet together, but I did not always have my house together. A friend of mine recommended that I reach out to Ariene. … She’s been on the journey with me through this.”
Comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
How do you describe your personal style?
Tomboy-gaudy — think Zsa Zsa Gabor meets Ellen DeGeneres. I love things that are loud and boisterous, but I love men’s tailoring — I need it to be very exact and drape well. There are a lot of pants and always a button-down shirt. If I’m ever in a dress, it’s almost always paired with sneakers or flats. I also really love sweatsuits. Cashmere is near and dear to my heart — you should have two cashmere sweatsuits. Also, you need sequins — and you need to wear them every day and all the time — and camouflage, with your sequins. You just need it — all the shiny things.
You have quite the sneaker collection.
The thing that is near and dear to my heart is my Nike collection, specifically my Jordan 1’s. I only wear Jordan 1’s — no other Jordan is acceptable. It’s classic, like a classic Mustang. I am also partial to old-school racers, like waffle racers — anything that looks like an old-school running shoe.
Do you have any hero pieces?
There’s a top — it’s actually a sample, and there are only three of this shirt. [Former J.Crew president] Jenna Lyons owns one. [The Duchess of Cambridge] Kate Middleton owns the other. My second hero piece is everybody’s favorite: a skirt that also came from [a J.Crew] sample sale. I have two of them — one is tulle and khaki, and I also have one that’s taffeta. My favorite tee right now is From Charlotte With Love, because I am from here. J.Crew used to make bridal, and I have a bridal tux that at some point I am going to wear.
Tell us about those amazing specs.
My statement piece is my glasses. I have my vintage Cartier frames and my Guccis that wrap all the way around. Whenever I have a Zoom meeting, I wear those.
Is that a Bill Cosby sweater?!
My prized possession is my Coogi sweater. Yes, like Bill Cosby used to wear.
Do you have any help?
It’s important to have someone you trust with your wardrobe. I’m fortunate to have my friend Von (Yvonne Arnold), who was a merchandiser for J.Crew for 10 years. So if I get to a place where I feel stuck with my look or my clothes, I walk away and whatever she says get rid of, I trust it. If she gets rid of it, I didn’t need it.
Do you have a favorite era in J.Crew fashion?
The Jenna years — 2012-2014 — are my favorite. It’s the era where a lot of people think J.Crew went wrong, but it’s the era I think was the greatest — J. Crew was at fashion week. I always joke and say the women who could afford designer clothing had Phoebe Philo at Celine — we had Jenna at J.Crew. She is literally my Phoebe Philo.
1. Wear your sh*t. You’re never going to get another chance. Stop saving it for an event or dinner. If you’re going to the doctor’s office, get dressed up. If you’re going to take your driver’s license picture, get dressed up.
2. You should smell like you look. If you look like a thousand bucks, you need to smell like a thousand bucks. My favorite scent is Creed original.
3. Don’t get hung up on the size of clothes — if it fits you, buy it. If you’ve got to buy a size 16, buy it. If it’s a 22 and you want to wear it as an oversized dress, just buy it. Just buy what makes you feel absolute joy.
What closet organization tips do you have?
I used to buy jeans haphazardly. Now, I’m limited to the number of hooks I have. There are roughly 25 hooks — that’s all the pants I can have. Also, it’s important to be able to see your clothes, because if you can’t see your clothes, you don’t wear them. Store away what you don’t wear. I have a substantial coat collection in another closet. Finally, I follow the Roy G. Biv rule when it comes to organizing my closet according to color.
Favorite reason to get dressed up:
I woke up.
Favorite place to go dressed up:
Ariene (Bethea’s) shop, and take pictures of myself in my outfits! And to just hang out with my friends, especially a dinner date with the girls.
THIS OR THAT
Sneakers or flats? Sneakers, though I will spend every last dime I have saved for a good pair of flats. Fun fact: I took a pair of Gucci loafers and married them to a pair of Birkenstocks. My friends affectionately call them the GucciStocks.
Sunglasses or earrings? Sunglasses, if I had to pick, because sometimes you can’t wear sunglasses and earrings.
Stripes or polka dots: Both — put them all together.
Favorite print: Floral, specifically chinoiserie. Anything with chinoiserie on it, I’m here for it.
Skirts or pants: That’s hard — real hard. Skirts.
Favorite color: I don’t consider myself girly, but I love bright colors. Neon pink, neon green and chartreuse/highlighter-yellow green.
Favorite accessory: Earrings. I only have a handful of necklaces. They’re all near and dear for some reason — they’ve either been gifted to me, or someone thought of me for it.