Style Symbols

Indulgences.  Decadence.  Lacy, frilly, girly, sexy fashion.  Feel-good, look-good, make 'em melt clothing.  Meet four women who tap into their own inner fashion guru every day, from the 20-something with her own line of clothing to

Patience Myrick

Take a look at 29-year-old Patience Myrick’s slim figure, and you’d never guess she has an 8-year-old son. “I don’t think I could ever become like a soccer mom,” says the lithe young designer. “I set my mind that I’m not going to be a lame mom, I’m going to be a sexy mom.” When she sheds the preppy Kuhlman’s shirts she wears to work, you might find her wearing one of the midriff-baring, provocative dresses that she and her best friend Keisha Redley create for their company, Myley.

A woman’s world: “I like to be sexy in everything that I do,” she says. Sure, she’s become a little more conservative and sophisticated with age, but she doesn’t leave the house without her stilettos. “I still like sexy — every day, all out.”

Favorite item: A black Myley wrap-around dress. “You can wear it completely on your shoulders or as a halter. It has side-slits so you can show more waist or you can hide your belly. That’s a really hot seller, and every time I wear it, everybody has a compliment.”

Perfect partner: Myrick says her approach leans toward trendy and flashy, while Keisha is more chic and classy. They started making clothes they couldn’t otherwise afford or things that looked completely different from everyone else. “But we have the same eye; we like the same things.”

Where it begins: Fabrics inspire her Myley designs. “I can touch or feel a material and tell what I can design.” She’s also inspired by Tom Ford, “the way he tells the story of a sexy, sultry woman. Fashion designers tell stories with colors, styles and different cuts.”

Lusting after: “I want everything in HandM in Toronto — it’s more Brit-style, like trench coats and berets.” Her wish list also includes a Chloe baby-doll dress, an It bag, anything yellow, a shirt dress and “funky shoes that no one else is going to have or would dare to wear.”

That time has passed: “When I was in high school I followed the magazines, and now I look back and think, Why did I wear that?! Now, I’m more selective.”

Spare and simple: “I’m fairly low-maintenance.” She cuts her own hair, shops at thrift and discount stores and uses inexpensive makeup: CoverGirl pressed powder, Rimmel shadow and blush, $1 lip-gloss. “What I’m doing works for me, and it’s been working for awhile.”

Best advice: “Everybody should wear high heels. It makes your butt look better and makes you look sexy. For me, fashion is about paying attention and caring how you look.”

— Liz Logan

Peggy Wright-Ortenzi

The 35-year-old Carrie Bradshaw wannabe is a makeup artist and assistant manager for MAC. Wright-Ortenzi loves anything girly and frilly, wears fedoras and newsboy caps, likes to mix things up and will do anything for great style — even if it means making it herself. “I’ve been obsessed with fashion pretty much since my eyes first started to focus,” she says.

Timeless: “I don’t feel fashion has an age. Some things you can’t get away with when you’re older, but I’m at the age where I can still keep it fun, keeping up with the current trends and adapting them to my work environment. If sequins are in, I’ll throw a splash of sequins into my wardrobe.”

Anything but uniform: She’s required to wear black at work, but says it gives her more variety. “I find it sophisticated. It can evoke many different moods. If I can’t find something I want in black, I’ll dye it on the stove. I’ll throw on a black flower pin or a rhinestone brooch to give the outfit a little zip.”

Fashion … “can make you feel alive.”

Do-it-yourself: When she has time and sees something she wants, Wright-Ortenzi tries to recreate it or make her own version. “I can’t live without my bedazzled cell phone. I made it using craft glue from Pat Catan’s and rhinestones.”

Mix and match: Bubble skirts, billowy poet sleeves, pretty A-line dresses, a fitted army jacket dressed up with rhinestones. “I love Balenciaga right now, their spring collection.”

Little black dress: “My favorite item of clothing is my BCBG black ruffly dress that’s strapless with an ostrich feather hem — very ‘Sex and the City’ style.”

Staples: Her straightening iron, MAC stubborn brown powerpoint and engraved (black) pencil, Prr lipgloss, Nine West knee-high equestrian-style boots

Required reading: She loves Zink, Elle, Paris Vogue, Italian Vogue and even Teen Vogue. “They’ll show the huge designers and something similar, closer to my price range. It keeps my mentality young and fresh.”

Dolce dreams: Her favorite designer is Dolce and Gabbana. “Someday I would love to be able to afford something extravagant like a Dolce and Gabbana dress. I’d love to shop at Barney’s in New York.”

Ten years from now … “I’ll adapt fashion to my life and keep it classic.”

— LL

Karen Caponi

There’s nothing Wall Street conservative about Caponi, a 47-year-old financial services professional. She enjoys fitted suits, blazers designed to be worn without blouses and “very, very high heels.” Try: Nothing less than 3-inches high or Stuart Weitzman will do. “I love dressing sophisticated-sexy,” she says.

Favorite designer: “I love Tom Ford. He is just classic in his lines.”

Turning heads: “Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor — those are the kinds of looks I like. When you walk into a room, heads turn.”

Dress-up drag: “I played dress-up all the time [as a kid]. I would try to put outfits together from my cousins’ clothes and my mom’s clothes, and I would dress up my brothers to see how I could make them look good, makeup and everything!”

Fashion … “makes you feel beautiful — it completes you.”

Aging gracefully: “My fashion sense is like a bottle of fine wine. I’ve become more sophisticated in my dress and my style. You always take a bit from your past and work forward.”

No towering achievement: “I’m forever grateful that we don’t have to live the ’70s over. I have the skinniest legs, so I could never wear the platforms.”

Smart money: “I never walk into Saks and buy anything, ever.” Instead she shops Off 5th (the Saks outlet), Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. “I know when all the sales are. And I always buy classics that I can wear five years from now.” Example: the $300 pink-satin gown she got for $60 at Georgiou, Beachwood Place.

Market diversity: Caponi rarely buys clothes in Cleveland. She prefers Chicago, Las Vegas, the Caribbean, New York … and Tennessee? “In Nashville, there’s all these little boutiques where you find the coolest clothes. That’s where I get a lot of my vintage-looking pieces.”

Recent acquisitions: Two vintage-looking fur-and-ostrich-feather evening bags, one in white and one in black, that she purchased in New Orleans last summer. “To die for!” she says.

Biggest investment: A $700 Prima Donna Couture velvet gown trimmed with beading and ostrich feathers. “And then, of course, my wedding dress. It was an Angelique, on the cover of Vogue. I never got to wear it — I never got married.”

Most coveted accessory: “A man who looks good on me!”

— Lynne Thompson

Johanna Pockar

At 55, Pockar is clearly comfortable in her skin. The interior designer and feng shui consultant employs a wise, patient search for harmony and simplicity in her approach to clothing. “Dressing yourself is just like dressing a room,” she says. “It’s all about balance. And nature is an inspiration to me, to see the effortless beauty of it in every minute of every day.”Favorite designer: Ellen Tracy (“Those clothes fit me well.”) and Giorgio Armani (“I can’t afford the clothes, but I think they’re exquisite. His fabrics are just divine.”)

Home style: “My mother was a dressmaker. She made the most incredible ensembles and gowns. As a little girl, I got to pick up the scraps on the workroom floor — she worked at home, on the dining room table. When I was 8, I started sewing, made Barbie doll clothes, the whole thing. That’s how I started my design business.”

Material girl: “I love fiber! And I really appreciate the construction, the detail that goes into making a garment.”

Clean lines: Her short, white hair helps create a tailored look. “I love a crisp, white shirt with the collar up. I don’t like ruffles. And I don’t do fussy.”

Key furnishings: Pockar doesn’t mind spending money on a great pair of pants. Her favorites include Ellen Tracy worsted-wool-blend trousers and Fabrizio Gianni wool-and-spandex capris, both in black, which she jazzes up with jackets and accessories. “I would like to wear jeans, but I don’t feel I look fabulous in them.”

Following the trends: She owns jean jackets in different colors — turquoise, pink, white and multiple shades of denim. She is also fond of peasant skirts from Nordstrom. “They look great with a jean jacket or a black sweater.”

Natural accent: She wears an olive-green turquoise bracelet with a big chunk of amber in the center almost every day. “I got it in New Hope, Pa., at a wonderful gallery.” She picks up jewelry in all her travels; “I’ve gotten some incredible rings in Paris,” she notes.

Spring forecast: “I love those little shrunken tie sweaters.” Her wish list also includes “something soft and drapey,” another really great suit and a wedge sandal.

Evolution of style: “I like less and less as I get older. I used to have two or three closets of clothes. I don’t do that any more. I don’t need as much. I’m not doing the shopping thing to medicate myself anymore.”

— LT

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