New York has Paula Froelich. Chicago has Susanna Negovan (formerly Homan). This woman about town has a hot career as editor-in-chief of Michigan Avenue Magazine. Find out what she thinks of Chicago fashion and how karma plays a big role in business.
FACTIO MAGAZINE: What do you think of Chicago fashion.
SUSANNA NEGOVAN: Chicago has a lot of talented up-and-coming designers who have decided to build careers here and not move to the coasts. Groups like the Chicago Fashion Foundation and GenArt help incubate local talent – and I’m hoping we start to build more of a national reputation.
FM: Where do you love to shop in Chicago? How about worldwide? Any favorite online retailers?
SN: I try to support local boutiques and designers as much as possible – Calvin Tran is one of my favorites and I have dozens of his convertible pieces. I’ve become obsessed with vintage clothes – especially dresses, and my favorite spot is Lulu’s at the Belle Kay on Lincoln Ave. Laurie Davis (the owner) is like my personal stylist and calls me when she’s got something special. For deals, I go to Fox’s on Halsted – it’s guilt-free bargain shopping! I also love to buy gorgeous shoes at Neiman Marcus – is there any place better for a sexy pair of heels?
FM: Describe your signature style.
SN: I try to always be original and not follow the trends too closely. I don’t like the herd mentality. In the last couple of seasons, I’ve avoided things like Ugg boots, brooches, and Juicy sweatsuits. You’ll never find me in this-minute’s brand of jeans or carrying the handbag everyone else has.
FM: Which woman (past or present) has impeccable style and why? What women in which city worldwide have the best style?
SN: I’d be crazy if I didn’t say Chicago! I have a lot of wonderful female friends and colleagues I really admire. Terry Savage (Sun-Times financial columnist) is spectacular with her boardroom-chic style. Carolyn Brundage (ChicagoBeauty.com) is the ultimate glamour girl. Lana Fertelmeister (jewelry designer) is literally dripping in gold.
FM: What is your biggest fashion vice? And, where is your favorite place to travel?
SN: My biggest vice is probably vintage dresses – I’ve bought about 20 in the last couple of years from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. I have no self-control when it comes to dresses – there are at least five that I haven’t worn yet and I keep bringing home more.
In the last couple of years I’ve taken a lot of great trips – Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii (twice) – I love Kauai – at least a dozen trips to New York since I have family there, and a couple of months ago I went on a family vacation to Disney World. I make sure shopping is always on the agenda! (Well, except at Disney – no good shopping there unless it has Mickey ears).
FM: Do you think money and style go hand in hand or can style never be bought? Is it something you just have?
SN: I’ve always enjoyed getting dressed – even when I was in college and my annual clothing budget was somewhere around $500. People with style look great even when everything is from a thrift store. I think some people have an inner spark, that “it” quality that makes them stylish and sexy no matter what they wear.
FM: What key fashion pieces do you always have in your wardrobe?
SN: My biggest problem is that I’m never drawn to “the basics” so when I need a black turtleneck, I can’t find one in my closet. But multi-colored sequined pants and a feather-trimmed jacket – I’ve got those! I suppose I should get some key pieces each season instead of the crazy stuff I enjoy so much more.
FM: What’s a fashion no-no when attending special events, galas and more? Any tips for getting ready for an event?
SN: Yes – if it’s a nightclub, avoid “the uniform,” which for women right now is a pair of jeans and a camisole. For men, it’s a striped button-down shirt with jeans. Also, absolutely no over-tanning.
For a big event I like to have my hair and make-up done, but no stiff “up-dos” because it shouldn’t be a high-school-prom look. I prefer a great blow-out from my favorite stylist, Jillian at Paul Rehder Salon. Wearing a vintage dress ensures that no other girl at the party will be in the same thing.
FM: Do you have any style icons?
SN: I’ve never been interested in imitating someone else’s style. Even though I read fashion magazines and follow pop culture, I don’t let celebrities dictate how I dress.
FM: What are your own personal standards of beauty? And, what are your standards for style?
SN: I really appreciate the unexpected in beauty and style – in a crowd, I’m always drawn to take the picture of the person with pink hair wearing a flamboyant outfit.
FM: What would people be most surprised to know about you?
SN: When I’m not on a “night out” I go to bed before 10 p.m. – and I have no trouble falling asleep because I hardly ever get any.
FM: What business advice and inspiration can you give women?
SN: I believe in karma – so treat every person you encounter with respect; you never know who will be in a position to help you someday. Also, you can earn a great reputation at work simply by Could being dependable – deliver on what you’ve promised and never blow your deadlines. The people who make excuses all the time aren’t trusted with the big assignments.
FM: What tips would you give women, in general, to be well rounded, balancing out life and business?
SN: I’m lucky that my jobs are so fun; most of the time, they don’t feel like work. So either love what you do or move on!
FM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
SN: Still loving life, no matter where it takes me. I have faith that goods things are in store.