Ever since she was a little girl, Joan Madison has had an affinity for fashion. From making custom-fitting Barbie doll outfits when she was in elementary school, to developing her natural talent at the acclaimed Fashion Institute of Technology, to landing designer positions at The Limited and Express, to eventually opening her own bridal boutique in Reynoldsburg, Madison has amassed over 20 years experience in the fashion industry. Madison shared some of her insights with (614) to help those holiday shoppers looking to cross gifts for the fashionista in their life off their list.
(614): If you’re having trouble identifying your friend’s unique style or items that would fit into that style, what are some staple pieces that everyone can love and use?
JM: Some staple pieces that everyone loves and uses are items that match the season! I love to accessorize! If it is fall [or] winter, I love to go for soft cashmere scarves, gloves or even winter sunglasses—they make the perfect accent as a thoughtful gift or for a stylish friend, and you can never go wrong with items that make you warmer in the cooler months. If it is spring [or] summer, I love to match accessories that add a touch of color or metallic to anyone’s wardrobe. Items like handheld purses, fanciful flats and color-pop earrings are always my go to faves for everyone, no matter the taste.
(614): For those working on a tight budget, what pieces make the best gifts?
JM: I like that even on a budget, these gift ideas work! What I like most about these staple pieces are that these items come in a variety of colors and prices. I like that I can buy all of my favorites, no matter the budget!
(614): For bigger ticket items—let’s say a handbag or coat, for example—how can the average shopper distinguish a quality item from one that is simply overpriced?
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JM: As a couturier, I find it necessary to first examine the stitching on any garment. Make sure it’s lined, and that all plaids, stripes, or patterns match. Most people think it is about the textiles, but what sets a unique piece apart is the time and expertise it takes to engineer and craft a high quality garment, to really pour into the work, while also embodying the design and detail. Good quality is also evident in the fit of the garment, the hanger loops, and the overall hanger appeal. Often, overpriced items skip these components and this part of the process.
(614): What are some of your favorite shops and boutiques around Central Ohio that offer thoughtful, accessible fashion?
JM: One of my favorite boutiques around Central Ohio that offers thoughtful and accessible fashion is Minka’s Furs in the Shops at Worthington Place, and I also love to draw inspiration and support many of our local festival artisans. And we also offer holiday party dresses and evening gowns here at Joan’s Bridal Couture.
(614): What are some of your favorite trends you’ve seen this winter season?
JM: There are several trends I like this winter season, including anything in sequin with bling. Metallic is also still popular, [as is] wearing shades of green and earthier tones with a pop of color. For extra warmth, try layering your sweaters, dusters, and shawls. Additionally, anything with fur, and the reemergence of leopard prints [are current trends].
(614): What are some “fast fashion” items common during the winter that shoppers should avoid and why?
JM: Remember “fast fashion” doesn’t last—we are in an area where you want to wear that cute sport coat year-round, and have it for next season as well. Fast fashion is based off of trends as feelers, and I like a more traditional approach. Some “fast fashion” items to avoid this winter would be garments made in cheap polyester knit fabric, like scarves, crewnecks, and leggings. After being worn once, the garment starts to pill. The quality will be evident in the weight of the knit. Alternatively, go with a natural fiber like wool, which is a bit pricier but will last longer.
This conversation has been lightly edited. Visit Joan’s Bridal Couture at 7382 E Main St., Reynoldsburg or online at joansbridalcouture.com.