Fashion is its own shifting organism – ever-evolving, ever-changing, always fresh.
Which is what’s so intriguing for 38-year-old fashion designer and creative director Ashley Tyler.
“Style just evolves naturally over the years,” said Tyler, who recently relocated to Portland following a glamorous career in the New York City fashion industry. “You learn to be functional while still being distinctive.”
The Texas native started young – by age 6, she insisted that her mother teach her to sew, and by 11, she was sketching her own designs.
By age 18, she was studying at Parsons School of Design in New York City and Paris under the tutelage of such industry idols as Jean Paul Gaultier and Donna Karan. Later, she worked for Calvin Klein, then Ralph Lauren, and now she creates collections under her own name.
As for her own sense of style?
“I tend to dress intuitively and wear what feels natural and unique,” she said, using myriad colorful adjectives to describe her style, including romantic, earthy, eclectic, “rugged yet refined” and like a “natural Native American warrior princess.”
Here’s what you’d find if you creaked open her wardrobe: A lot of vintage, from lace and crochet tops from the early 1900s; Woolrich plaid shirts; Levi’s western shirts; more contemporary Levi’s jeans; “tons” of Ralph Lauren jackets; Jods styles; and Timberland boots.
For a night out, she has fun mixing masculine and feminine: A silk blouse and tailored trousers and heels. For a day at the office, meanwhile, it’s more of a dressy affair, but still slightly androgynous: Traditional “menswear haberdashery,” such as a tailored tweed jacket, a herringbone vest and a crisp white shirt matched with a suede skirt and “killer” boots.
No matter what she’s wearing, though, you’ll never catch her without her Burt’s Bees lip balm.
And the winter? She loves it. Yes, that’s right. It’s when she said she’s “finally” able to layer up in wool sweaters, military-inspired outerwear, hats and knee-high Sorel boots. In mud season, meanwhile, she never goes out without her 10-inch, shearling-lined L.L. Bean boots.
“They keep my feet dry, my toes warm, and me happy,” she said.
As for her advice? It’s simple. Balance your proportions, and be sure to avoid the embarrassing and the unflattering, like muffin tops and plumbers cracks.
“Wear what feels natural and flatters your figure, but don’t be afraid to take chances,” she said. “The worst you can ever be is boring.”