For Shopbop Editorial Stylist Anna Brugge, it is very possible that styling was her destiny, if you believe in that sort of thing. Raised in Tennessee by a buyer/boutique-owner mother and an artistic father, Anna quite literally grew up in the fashion industry, nabbing her first gig as head buyer for her mother’s tween boutique at the age of thirteen. To kick off what will be a monthly column about Anna’s latest obsessions and style happenings, we chatted with her about her early years in fashion.
What led you to become a stylist?
My style has constantly evolved since I was a little girl, but my parents and my childhood in Tennessee have been the most influential factors in my path to becoming a stylist.
My dad is a jack-of-all-trades (photographer, graphic designer, props designer—the list is never-ending). He sees ordinary things in a totally unique way, and that’s taught me to continually think outside of the box, both in my everyday life and in what I wear. A shirt doesn’t have to be a shirt. A scarf doesn’t have to be a scarf. When you throw out the rules and get creative, not only will you have fun, but your closet becomes a hundred times bigger.
My mom started as a buyer for Federated Department Stores and later opened a children’s clothing store when I was two years old. While my mom worked to get it off the ground, I spent time there after school and on weekends. She had a playhouse there with toys and books, but I preferred trying on clothes and dressing the front window mannequins. Looking back, you could say I was raised in my very own play closet.
Around the age of twelve, I told my mom that although I loved the clothing in her shop, I was embarrassed that it came from a baby’s store. Her new tween store, Sachi, was conceived after that. At thirteen, I became the head buyer, traveling to New York and Dallas for market. I was born with a strong voice and maybe a tad too much spunk, and entering the fashion industry at such a young age really brought that out more.
What is your earliest fashion memory?
At a young age, I was known for my bold fashion choices. For example, if I was made to wear a smocked dress, I would match it with combat boots. My family took turns chanting, “Anna the fashion lady, Anna the fashion lady, what little tips do you have for us today?” And I would reply with some silly answer about making sure to take the Q-tip out of your ear before leaving the house. I was probably six then and had no clue I would later be giving real fashion tips. But I still think the Q-tip rule is good advice.
Who was your first designer obsession?
Betsey Johnson!!! I must have been around ten years old when she started a children’s line, and I was ecstatic when my mom’s store started carrying it. There were so many fun and bright colors, mixed crazy prints, tutus with everything! Before Betsey Johnson, I never knew that the color pink could be cool.
What advice can you offer the non-stylists among us?
When I meet new people and they find out I’m a stylist, often they make a self-conscious comment about what they are wearing. It’s so silly. If you really love something and feel great in it, then nothing else matters. And if you feel great, most likely you will look great too. It doesn’t have to make sense, be on trend, or even be a certain label—wear something you LOVE.