Behind the Scenes: HuffPost’s ‘United States in Style’ Video Series

As a style blogger who chooses not to do regular “outfit of the day” posts (seriously, if you’ve seen one OOTD post, you’ve seen them all), I was pleasantly surprised when I learned of HuffPost Style’s new video series United States in Style. Rather than documenting of-the-moment fashion bloggers and hipsters in trendy downtown districts (which has become a bit of a cliche), this series chronicles the personal style of locals in off-the-fashion-radar cities, from Nantucket to Santa Fe.

HuffPost Live's Executive Lifestyle Editor Anya Strzemien gets all dolled up in Santa Fe's best western garb in an episode of United States of Style.
HuffPost Live’s Executive Lifestyle Editor Anya Strzemien gets all dolled up in Santa Fe’s best western garb in an episode of United States of Style. (Photo: Screengrab from YouTube)

I wanted to know why the host, HuffPost Live’s Executive Lifestyle Editor Anya Strzemien, decided to go this route. So, I decided to ask her. Here’s an edited version of our Q&A:

When most people think about street style, fashion bloggers camped outside of Fashion Week venues and trendy hipsters come to mind. What made you decide to do this type of video series, which strays from that stereotype?

As the editor of HuffPost Style, I consumed (and still love!) a lot of trendy street style blogs, but felt there were other styles in the country with deeper, more historical and sociological roots that hadn’t been documented in one place. I love style in all forms — not just what’s considered “fashion.”

Most importantly, everyone has style because everyone gets dressed in the morning and makes choices about what they’re going to wear. Just because that outfit may not be one that you or I would wear, it doesn’t mean they have less style. It’s still their style and just as valid. I don’t believe in “bad style.”

And I look at style as very anthropological — it reflects not just who we are, but where we are, and who we surround ourselves with. When I noticed that men in Atlanta tended to have skinnier dreads, or that hoop nose rings were on more people in San Francisco than I’ve seen in New York, or that a certain brand of bedazzled jeans are worn by many women in Iowa, or that Southern women often put ribbons in their hair, or that guys in Orange County, Calif., wore flat-brimmed baseball caps and Vans with socks pulled up to their calves, I decided I wanted to start documenting these local looks and the idea for “United States in Style” was born.

How did you choose which places to visit?

Based on two things: my personal curiosity or my knowledge of a deep-seated style tradition! Or some combination. So far I’ve shown New Mexico and Portland, Oregon. Coming up next: Miami, Burlington, Iowa and Nantucket.

What did you learn that stuck out most about the people in the cities you visited and their definition of what style is?

The style advice most people I interviewed gave me was “Don’t worry about what other people think.” It’s cliche, but totally true. If you try to please everyone, you’ll exhaust yourself and still have people judging you. I don’t think any of us are in a position to judge anyone else’s style, just as we wouldn’t judge their lifestyle. Their choices are their freedom, and style is a beautiful form of self-expression. Do you.

I was also often referred to style bloggers in each city. Again, I love and support style blogs, but didn’t want to only document people who subscribed to one idea of “fashion” or “street style” across multiple cities. I wanted people with all kinds of style.

Which city was your favorite?

I don’t want to play favorites, but I really love how Portland came together. I’m obsessed with the show “Portlandia,” because I think it speaks to modern youth culture in 2013, beyond Portland. It could be called Brooklyndia (eh?). But I digress. I love that episode because the people I interviewed were fascinating and so eclectic. They didn’t subscribe to any “fashion” standards; they dressed for themselves and the climate. I also love the editing and music, all of which was done by Portland musicians. After watching it probably over 75 times, I still get a huge laugh out of my exchange with Bonsai about his bare feet. As a New Yorker, I just couldn’t fathom someone walking around a city barefoot . . . and not being worried about broken glass.

What do you hope viewers will take away from the video series?

That everyone — and I mean everyone — has style.

To learn more about the video series, check out the United States in Style section on The  Huffington Post Web site.

Keep it stylish,

Andrea, S&P Founder and Editor

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