Danielle Wallis, 27, works as a full time Styling Instructor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In her spare time, she does styling for product and editorial shoots for Bob Cut Mag, SF’s coolest new culture magazine.
Can you tell me a little about what you are wearing?
I’m wearing all vintage, with boots from Free People. My style is inspired by mixing pieces from decades past and global culture/colors/textiles. I love experimenting with layered prints, bold colors, textures, and silhouettes.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is a blend of fashion history and global culture. In college, I was dubbed a “Mixologist” to describe the way I combine prints, textures, and shapes in my styling. Some days I look like I am Harajuku–Tokyo influenced, while other days I am more glam rock or a bohemian Stevie Nicks. A lot of the pieces I wear are vintage from the 1960s–1980s. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been influenced by these eras, with some of my original influences including Madonna (1980s style), Siouxsie Sioux, Anita Pallenberg, Debbie Harry, Biba, David Bowie, and more recently Karen O. As for culture, I collect textiles, jewellery, and traditional garments from around the globe. I love the vivid colors, intricate details, and prints from countries such as Thailand, Japan, Morocco, India, Bhutan, Kenya, and Poland.
In NY, there is a history of dressing for status and to getting noticed – in SF, not so much. In NY, there are ways to access genderless, provocative, innovative style very easily. In SF, that look exists, but you have to seek it out a bit more. It’s not as close to the surface as it used to be.
You teach styling. What makes for a good style?
Styling is a fascinating subject to teach. While teaching, I’ve noticed that it can all boil down to two factors: aesthetic and taste level. Fashion is wonderful because there is something for everyone, and each stylist is different. Just because I love Frida Kahlo‘s bold use of colour doesn’t mean my students will like it. In order to lead and instruct in styling, you must be open minded to all types of style and aesthetic. Some people have a natural knack for great taste – that’s a major plus! If you don’t have the natural eye for style, you can be taught and trained by instructors or mentors over time.
Is there a piece of styling advice that applies to all of us?
Don’t follow any rules. Just put the clothes on, and see if it works. Don’t be afraid to try.
I grew up in a very creative family that encouraged me to try new things and explore my identity with art and culture.
Can you please tell us about this outfit?
This outfit was built around my new Sam Edelman boots. I’ve been on the prowl for a great high-rise 1970s influenced boot. I wanted to pair it with a mid-calf skirt, a la Saint Laurent Pre-Fall 2016. Then, I paired it with some fun, colorful vintage – always a staple in my outfits! My rainbow zip up jacket is from Vacation SF, one of my favorite vintage stores in the city. Finally, my purple wool/silk jacket is from my colleague, Liz Baca. She is one of the Bay Area’s most exquisite vintage collectors/dealers.
Why does fashion matter (to you)?
The “art of dressing” has always been an important, natural factor in my life. Fashion has too, but I have always naturally expressed myself with clothing and decoration. I grew up in a very creative family that encouraged me to try new things and explore my identity with art and culture. From ages 8–16, I trained in multiple dance styles including hip hop, traditional belly dance, pointe/ballet, and tap. I grew up in costumes/dressing for stage, applying my own performance makeup, and being comfortable expressing myself through motion in front of an audience. Since then, I’ve always felt comfortable dressing up, trying new things, and experimenting with my identity. In summary, it’s clothing that has always been a way to express my inner self.
You’ve lived in NY and SF: how would you describe the styles of those cities?
What’s funny about comparing SF and NY style is that most people would say they are completely different, and have nothing in common. The truth is, there are laid back, relaxed people rocking jeans and tees in NY, and there are quirky punk and counterculture kids in SF! The difference in the cities that I’ve noticed is the accessibility to innovative style, and the history of dressing for status. In NY, there is a history of dressing for status and to getting noticed – in SF, not so much. In NY, there are ways to access genderless, provocative, innovative style very easily. (There are certain shopping districts, clubs, and parties you can check out to see it!) In SF, that look exists, but you have to seek it out a bit more. It’s not as close to the surface as it used to be (when I first moved here in 2007).
People often say that there is no fashion scene in SF. What would you reply?
When people say this to me, I typically reply something along the lines of, “Clearly you haven’t opened your eyes and walked through the most cultured neighbourhoods!” It’s there if you look. SF has and will always be its own thing. It was never NY or LA, and will never be NY or LA – that’s the beautiful honest truth about it. You have to come here with an open mind and remember that “fashion” here may not look like a Balenciaga handbag or Isabel Marant dress. Fashion here is something different, more self expressive and laid back. Designers and industry professionals frequently vacation here to relax and gain inspiration for their upcoming projects. That is powerful.