Style That Sings

Singer/songwriter Katie Matzell talks about style, from her public persona on stage to what makes her feel good at home.

Katie Matzell in her classic day style, “casual, functional and comfy,” above and far right, “wrapped up and prepared for Maine weather.” Photo by Amanda Whitegiver

Singer/songwriter Katie Matzell released her debut EP at the start of 2018. A Maine native, she grew up in Wiscasset and began her stage career in local plays. A nominee for Female Performer of Year at the 2018 New England Music Awards, Matzell lives in Portland and performs all over New England as both a headliner and opening act. We caught up with her on a recent chilly day to talk about shopping at the Maine Mall back in the days when Clueless was the rage and she was in fifth grade, and of course, what makes her feel good on stage.

Describe your style in one sentence.
My day style tends to be very casual, functional and comfy—sweaters, jeans, wool socks and my Blundstone boots (I like to feel warm, wrapped up and prepared for Maine weather). When I’m performing, I tend to have a more classic, basic black look; a black high-waisted trouser or skinny jean with an interesting top that shows a shoulder (or two) and my neck/collarbone. I also love a classic black wrap dress with a deep V neck.

Is it “Maine” style? If so, how? If not, how does it deviate?
I’d say my casual daytime style screams “Maine.” I’m always equipped with layers and wool. I hate feeling cold and damp. What I wear on stage is definitely more “theater district in NYC.”

First outfit you remember picking out and loving, feeling great in?
I remember the first time I went to the Maine Mall with my own money to spend, in the fifth grade. I went to Contempo Casual and bought some baby blue polyester bell bottoms, some black patent leather platform sneakers by a brand called “No Parking” and a little pot of blue glitter eye gel, which is basically glitter glue that stays wet on your lids all day. I thought I was the coolest. This was around the time the movie Clueless came out and though I laugh now, it was the first time I was really inspired by a sense of wanting to find my own individual style.

How old were you when you felt like you developed a style of your own?
When I started performing my own music on stages roughly five years ago, I started thinking about my style with intention, and now I put more thought into what I want to visually present to complement the sound I’m creating. Seeing photos of myself performing on stage definitely informs how my style shifts from show to show. It’s always in process. I’m looking forward to exploring my style more in the near future with the new body of music I’m working on. I would like to play more with color and prints and more flowy styles like dresses and jumpsuits. When I’m on Pinterest trying to look for style inspiration, I’m very drawn to the fashion of the 70s.

Last memorable outfit:
Emerald green silk wrap dress with flowy long sleeves that I wore two years ago on stage at the State Theatre. There is nothing more easy or flattering or feminine than a wrap dress.

Photo by Amanda Whitegiver

Favorite bricks and mortar place to buy clothing in Maine?
I pretty much only shop second hand at Haberdashery in Portland. They carry a lot of my absolute favorite brand right now, Madewell, and their buyer just knocks it out of the park overall on selection and prices.

Best bargain of all time:
My wedding dress. I tried on the one I wanted (the Percy) at the J. Crew bridal shop in Boston, which retailed for about $850, then went home and found it on eBay, new with tags, for $250.

Who are your style icons, in and out of Maine?
All time: Linda Ronstadt, Katharine Hepburn, Diane Keaton. In Maine right now, Julie O’Rourke, owner/designer of Rudy Jude. It’s a clothing line for babies, kids and adults. Very functional and well designed clothing for people who work and play outside and need to move freely. Julie’s style is simple and effortless. I eat up her Instagram.

What would you refuse to wear?
Anything that’s uncomfortable, because it shows. Fabrics (mostly synthetic) that aren’t breathable are hard for me.

Do you own Bean boots? If yes, how many pairs? If not, what do you wear in the snow?
I used to, but they make my feet cold and damp. I now wear some very warm, shearling lined Ugg winter boots. I mostly wear my Blundstones, though. They are great in snow, rain and chilly weather. I’m always excited to pull them back out as soon as temps on late summer nights start to drop.

What is your current “go to” outfit or item of clothing?
My Madewell high-rise black skinny jeans and my Madewell thick charcoal knee-length cardigan, which is a size too big and is pretty much one step up from a bathrobe. I also wear my black wool poncho from L.L.Bean a lot this time of year. Warm, cozy, and I think very chic.

What do you change into after a long day?
I wish I could come up with a less predictable answer, but: yoga pants; keep the sweater, ditch the bra; and my L.L.Bean Wicked Good Slippers.

Amanda Whitegiver is a lifestyle family photographer who adores dark chocolate and singing with her two daughters.

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