Known for her powerful use of vibrant color, pattern and designer must-haves, Denver style influencer, Rachel Vardeman, embodies everything wonderful and personal about fashion. Vardeman’s use of cohesive parallels between her vintage, modern and designer essentials is unrivaled and in a class of its own. In preparation for Valentine’s Day, Vardeman unveiled three bold and stylish looks for date nights and casual affairs and offered style tip takeaways perfect for any holiday or season.
Rachel Vardeman: I absolutely love pink and red together or different variations of those colors, mixed. I love burgundy and blush pink together, as well as red and hot pink. With that said, Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite seasons to dress for. I couldn’t resist the drama of this hot pink dress mixed with metallic heels. It’s just a fun and bold look. But I also love the look of the rust-colored skirt with bright red. It’s a deviation from the bright and girly and tends to a more edgy look. Both are great for a date night dinner. But I love a band t-shirt and sneakers with a skirt for a day date look, still fashion-forward but functional.
303: How can readers incorporate these styled looks into their personal wardrobes?
RV: I truly believe that bright colors can be just as functional as neutrals. You just have to be willing to try and style them in a way that feels authentic to you. And don’t listen to what anyone may tell you about color not looking good on you, because I am here to tell you that it does. Maybe mustard yellow isn’t your best color but a bright blue could be. I like to style looks once a week or so to optimize the pieces that I have, yet changing up how I wear them and I recommend that to anyone looking to branch out. Black looks great with everything but pink, in the right shade, can too.
303: What do you suggest if some wishes to not wear red and or pink for the celebratory day?
RV: One thing that I really love about this age of fashion is that the rules are pretty general. If you don’t want to wear pink or red or purple for Valentine’s Day, don’t. Maybe opt for a timeless little black dress but mix it up and wear combat boots. Or a monochrome white/cream look. I encourage you to branch out but wear pieces that you still feel confident in and feel true to you.
303: What pieces are crucial if a more casual look is desired for Valentine’s Day?
RV: Denim. Denim jacket or jeans. I love ripped jeans with a good-heeled boot and blazer. Or a denim jacket over a mini dress with over-the-knee boots.
303: Care to indulge us with your Valentine’s Day 2020 plans?
RV: At the beginning of the month my husband and I went to Chicago and New York to see family and to vacation, so we’ll probably just do a quiet dinner in Denver for V-Day. There are a few Italian places that I’ve been wanting to try and what would Valentine’s Day be without a lot of carbs and great wine?
303: How did you first get into fashion?
RV: When I was about eight years old, my mom showed me the movie Funny Face. It absolutely spoke to me and awakened my love for all things fashion. I already knew and loved Audrey Hepburn but to see her in such timeless pieces from Givenchy — I was simply amazed and inspired. I knew from that point on, I wanted to have a place in the fashion industry and to make my mark, just like Audrey.
303: Who are some of your favorite designers and what current trends are you loving going into spring?
RV: After my mom and I watched Funny Face and she recognized my growing love for fashion, she introduced me to Chanel and Alexander McQueen. I did more research myself and discovered Karl Lagerfeld. Two incredibly timeless brands and one man who shaped the industry and I was even more hooked. As I grew up, I started to watch fashion shows and document the things that I loved about them. But recently I’ve been inspired by Stine Goya out of Copenhagen, the Attico, Gucci with their bright prints and Kurt Geiger and Danse Lente bags. For spring, I am excited about the heavy mixture of textures and floral prints and jewel tones that I think will be taking most of the limelight. I am a firm believer in mixing patterns and unexpected colors and we really are seeing a heavy influence of those trends from designers like MaxMara, Staud and Marc Jacobs. I also love the dramatic puffy sleeves and monochrome suits. I think that 2020 is going to be a year for color and risk-taking.
303: What is one fashion item (clothing or accessory) that you can’t live without?
RV: Jeans and jewelry. I am all about accessories. I love to mix metals and stones. I love the uniqueness of jewelry — each piece is so specific to your own look and style. And there really is nothing like a good pair of denim. Lately, I’ve really been into anything with a wide leg or a mom-style jean. You can build any outfit with a great pair of jeans. Throw on a t-shirt and blazer with a great pair of bell-bottoms or a turtle neck with a leather jacket. You can’t go wrong. Sorry, I guess that’s two things I can’t live without.
303: Most of your looks have bold and highly intriguing elements such a pattern mixing and vibrant color. Can you describe your process for selecting pieces for an outfit?
RV: I wish I had more of a method to my madness, but I just purchase unique pieces or pieces that I know I can style many different ways. Often times, if something is really different or even outrageous, I will stand in the store, holding the piece and style it in my head with other things that I own five different ways. That way I know I will wear it at least five times. I also try to consider many different styles. If I find something that intrigues me but is not something I would normally wear, I’ll try it out, just in case. I usually end up loving it.
303: What are your favorite Denver shopping destinations?
RV: I love to thrift/consign so I frequent Buffalo Exchange, ARC and Goodwill. But I am also very much a Nordstrom girl and Zara lover. But, really, if there’s a piece I find that I really love, I don’t care where it is from.
303: Describe your style in one word.
All photography by Brandon Johnson.