Scroll through the Instagram of Sandy Koszarek (@stylishsandy), a VIP stylist for Nordstrom in Seattle, and we can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find a clothing combo you’re dying to have.
Shortly after the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders went into effect, Koszarek began using Instagram as a way to connect with the fashion community virtually with dressing room try-ons, sneak peek styles that have yet to hit the Nordstrom website, and her daily outfits. The style of this 61-year-old is captivating for one simple reason: It’s timeless and chic in an unfussy fashion. She’s been working as a stylist for Nordstrom for the last decade or so but says fashion has always been part of her DNA. She studied fashion merchandising and design at Washington State University and now serves clients who range from 30 to 80 years old.
We wanted to know more, so we sat down with her one balmy morning and asked for her style tips and recommendations.
How has your style evolved? If we looked at 20-year-old you versus you today, what would be the similarities and differences?
I was always experimenting with color — lots of color and shape and textures and making my own clothes. I always liked tailored clothes, because I am petite, and they fit me better. Thinking back to my youth — I grew up in the ’70s — and I used to wear Levi’s, and I’d borrow my brother’s shirts. I still like mixing things up like that — wearing the denim with a blazer and something more feminine. I like the juxtaposition of borrowing from the boys (boxy and casual) and also having feminine details.
Way back in the day, finding your colors was really important. I had particular colors that are supposed to look good on me, and in college, I didn’t deviate from that — burgundy, deep blue, golden colors, and greens. I still wear those, but I also wear a lot of neutrals right now. Nowadays I say forget it. I wear what I want and mix what I want, and that comes with confidence, too: being able to feel comfortable wearing whatever you want.
What role has style played in your life? Has it taught you any lessons about yourself, the world, or other people?
Style has taught me a lot about myself. It’s taught me how comfortable I am with different parts of my body and how I want to present to the world. Style has given me confidence over time. The reactions I get from other people have given me more confidence and knowing that it’s all about my style. I also like helping people create their style. That’s important to me. I’ve had people who come into my dressing room, and they’re so nervous. They’re not comfortable in their own skin, and I like to put them at ease.
As someone who works a lot with styling other people, are there some basics you like to walk people through to help demystify their personal style?
I call them basics or essential items for your wardrobe, and I have a whole list of them: white blouse; white T-shirt; current denim; blazer; denim or utility jacket; a black dress that can go day to evening; nude heel; white sneaker; loafer, or flat shoe; gold or silver necklace; hoop, diamond, or pearl earring; nice handbag; and a trench coat.
Any pet peeves you have about the fashion industry, and are there ways you try to navigate around those when you shop? One of my pet peeves is the limited sizes for petite and plus size. We talk about plus sizes (a lot), but it’s true for petites, as well. It has been a problem; I think it’s getting better. I’m seeing extended sizes on both sides of the spectrum, but I still think we have room to grow. Some brands that I think do a good job are Veronica Beard, Good American, Theory (they typically run small, but they do have sizes in 12 and 14), Vince, Halogen, and Treasure and Bond.
I find that clothing is way more versatile than we often think. Do you have any tips on how we can look at our closets with new eyes?
You want to be able to see everything in your closet. Your closet needs to be tidy. If you can’t see your items, you’re not going to wear it. If you can, try to organize your closet. If you have the ability to move your seasonal clothing out and just have summer clothing, do that. I colorize mine and put it in different sections, so I have all my blouses in one area and then my sweaters and blazers and skirts and dresses. Organize your shoes, as well.
Make sure you hang up your clothes at the end of the day. And when you change your clothes out from season to season, make sure it’s all cleaned. If you’re cleaning out, look at your clothing. If you haven’t worn something, why? Does it need to be repaired? Do you not wear it? If you’re not wearing it, but it’s sentimental, archive it, and pull it out later.
An unexpected color duo you love: Pink and red
Favorite clothing brands: Chanel, Celine, Dior
Favorite item in your closet: I love this jumpsuit that I have. It’s so easy. It’s a Rebecca Taylor, and it’s black and cream-colored with flowers and has a tie waist.
I won’t leave the house without … lipstick
I feel most powerful when … I’m wearing a blazer — boss lady!
One thing I read/listened to that I’ll always recommend to others: The How I Built This podcast