By Kerry Scott
Hannah Henderson describes herself as “a misplaced New Yorker at heart with Southern charm and hospitality in her bones.” When the personal style blogger is asked to describe her style though, she says it’s a little more complicated. “I like the characters of fashion, but I’m not necessarily one character,” she explains. “I dabble in them all.”
That’s probably because Henderson considers fashion a walking art form, “and I express myself creatively through that venue,” she says.
In fact, she’s been expressing herself through fashion her whole life. “As a toddler, my mom would pick me up and put me on her hip. I would flip through the clothing racks and pick my own outfits,” she says with a laugh.
That early interest sparked a passion that has led Henderson, a Rainsville native, to places she never expected, and she hopes it will one day lead to a career in fashion.
In school, Henderson’s friends encouraged her to share her unique style and distinctive look with others on the Internet. As a high school sophomore, she began posting her outfits on lookbook.nu, an online fashion community where members from around the world share their looks and find inspiration. When she discovered that many lookbook members also had blogs, she started her own; stylesbyhannahriles.blogspot.com.
The blog gave this small-town girl with big-city dreams an opportunity to introduce her unique take on fashion not only to others around the country, but also to people around the world. And she caught the eye of at least one fashion mogul.
Teen Vogue’s styles feature director Andrew Bevan contacted Henderson after seeing her blog. Bevan was intrigued by Henderson’s sense of style and wanted to feature her blog in the magazine. “Here is a man who is constantly surrounded by the top in fashion — the hot celebrities and best designers — but he saw potential in me,” says Henderson.
“I’ve read the magazine for years,” she adds. “I believe Andrew has a very good understanding of what works and what doesn’t in the fashion world. I’m so grateful and blown away that he saw potential in me.”
Being featured in Teen Vogue really boosted the popularity of her already esteemed blog. At one point, the blog had more than 12,000 views each month. “I love that the blog has drawn an audience to me,” Henderson says. “It’s gotten my art of fashion exposure without me already being in the industry.”
The blog has also brought Henderson and her mother, Terri, who serves as her photographer, even closer together. “I’m closer to my mom than anybody else in the world,” she says. “We’ve both grown and learned a lot through the blog. As time has gone on, she’s definitely stepped up her game and improved, as have I. It’s cool that we share this.”
Together, they seek out interesting locations for photo shoots and keep a camera with them so they are ready to take advantage whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. “Honestly, I know this is very cliché, but I see inspiration almost everywhere,” she says.
Often asked to help friends put together or style outfits, Henderson says she’s flattered by those requests. “It gives me so much joy to not only share my creative talent but also to know my friends take me seriously enough to ask for and take my advice,” she says. “For them to also value my opinion and believe that I have a good understanding of fashion is great. It helps further my experience. Fashion is something you have to practice.”
Her one rule about fashion that she shares with everyone is this: do what makes you happy. “Don’t be afraid of what other people are going to think,” says Henderson. “Don’t be scared to go out of the box and push yourself further in what you’re wearing, because it’s growth and it’s creativity.
“In my opinion, anybody can pull off anything,” she adds. “You just have to have the will, the want to and the confidence to wear it. Figure out what style you like, what you enjoy looking at, what you believe is really you and go for it because it’s fun. It’s a reflection of who you are.”
She also believes that while department stores are great for some things, people shouldn’t be limited when creating their unique style. “I shop everywhere — the mall, online, thrift stores and antique shops,” she says. “For me, I enjoy the hunt. It’s like searching for treasure. I like vintage for that reason. Each piece has a story behind it. It’s been through different people’s lives, and it carries with it those stories.”
Henderson is currently enrolled at Northeast Alabama Community College but will soon transfer to Auburn University where she will continue working toward a degree in fashion merchandising. She then plans to move to New York to pursue a career in the fashion industry. “I’m very open-minded about the exact job,” she says, “but I know I want to work in the heart of the fashion industry and experience all the different aspects of fashion.”
Maximize your wardrobe
Hannah Henderson offers these suggestions for getting the most mileage out of your wardrobe.
- Every woman should have a pair of black ankle boots. They can be dressed up, dressed down or worn with jeans, a skirt or tights. They go with everything and are super chic but understated while still giving a little bit of edge.
- It’s true. The little black dress is a staple for wardrobes, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Try polka dots, mesh sleeves, a collar or anything else. Branch out and make it fun.
- Money doesn’t equal style. I’ve “thrifted” a lot of my clothes. It’s more about finding what you love wherever you can.
- My favorite part of styling is the jewelry. It adds a bit of razzle-dazzle to any outfit. I love antique pieces such as a cameo. Bracelets are awesome because they can be stacked or worn alone. Rings are fun and interesting. Don’t fear stacking them, too.