A part of Cultivated Chatter is style. Susana is classic yet risky. If she walked past you on the street her attention to detail and extravagance would catch your eye immediately! I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did! Don’t hesitate to follow her on IG for Classic style inspo!
Hi, everyone! My name is Susana Fernandez, and I am the publisher of “A Key to the Armoire”, which chronicles my personal style since 2011. Just recently, I switched platforms, so I hope you all like the new format. I grew up between Venezuela and Spain, until we moved permanently to Spain after I graduated from school, since that is where my family is from. I came to the United States to finish college, and was offered a job so I stayed. My professional background is in broadcast journalism and public relations, as well as many years in higher education administration. Currently, I am a university professor, so my blog is my hobby.
1. What is one thing you would love to be remembered by?
Without doubt, being a good person. I try to live my life striving to be a good person. Before I act, I always think whether I’m acting in the best possible way. Fashion-wise, I’d love to have people think of me as someone with classic, timeless style.
2. Whats your signature fragrance?
For years and years, I wore “O de la Renta”, by Oscar de La Renta. Sadly, it was discontinued, and although I still have a couple of bottles left, I have started wearing “Mademoiselle”, by Chanel, for day, and “Coco Noir”, by Chanel, for evening.
3. What does elegance mean to you?
First and foremost, to feel comfortable! Elegant people are comfortable in their skin, but also in their clothes. When you don’t feel comfortable with what you are wearing, you act as if you were in costume. That is why a good stylist does not dress you with what they feel is the best style, BUT the best style for YOU. Aside from that, I think elegance is knowing yourself, and knowing what works and what does not work. It is also proportion and balance. Ultimately, and because it must truly reflect who you are, it involves a degree of originality and uniqueness. People say that “elegance is timeless” because elegance should not be strident. As Karl Lagerfeld said: “Trendy is the last stage before tacky”.
4. Top 3 style inspos
More than people, I’m inspired by eras. My main inspiration are the 50s, an era I feel was polished, tailored, and glamorous, but added the bit of unexpected fun that lacked in the 40s. Although I love the 40s too! I am also very inspired by menswear. Men have to be creative within very limited means, and menswear elegance is inspiring to me! I love a good menswear-inspired look, just because I think it is so sexy in its restraint. Finally, I am inspired by accessories. I’m a good accessories girl! If I worked in a magazine, that’s the job I’d probably have: Accessories Editor! I feel people are usually a bit afraid or insecure with accessories, and I think they are insanely important in pulling a look together.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
No idea! For me, it’s very hard to answer questions like these because I’m so utterly aware of how ephemeral life is, and how the best-planned goals don’t end up as you imagined them! I just focus on doing what I am doing, and moving along. I would love to see the blog grow (now that I can dedicate more time to it), but my life always takes precedence, so I do not know where life will take me 🙂
6. How do you like living in (Miami/Madrid) could you see yourself living elsewhere?
I love having the opportunity to travel between my two homes and cultures! It’s fun to dress with a different vibe depending on where you are. The differences might be subtle, but they are there, and it is fun. I could definitely see myself living in England (I’ve been a huge Anglophile since I was a little, little girl!) or New York. I love having a big city nearby, but I don’t necessarily need to be “living” in the center of it all. I am happy in the outskirts too, as I am very happy at home.
7. What does a guest experience in your home look like?
Hopefully, a welcome one! One of the best comments a guest can make is that they feel like they have known me forever. I have taught etiquette, and to me, manners are meant to make the other person important. When I host a party, I like people to dress up in order to elevate the moment and the experience for everyone. When I am invited to a home, I dress up to honor the trouble a person went through for me. Being dressed up doesn’t mean being stuffy or uncomfortable, it just means being respectful and polite. And by the way, you can be “dressed up” wearing jeans! By being “dressed up” I mean being thoughtful about how you look and what you wear. Aside from that, a guest in my home will encounter a classic style, full of dear and meaningful objects. Homes should reflect your life, your interests, your travels, and your taste. A home should not be a catalogue, but a “well-lived” space.
8. What are your top 3 favorite stores/ boutiques/ websites?
I love Ralph Lauren! I do almost no online shopping, as I like to see, try, and feel the quality of the clothes I buy, so I prefer to go in person. The thing is I don’t have favorites necessarily. I am an “equal-opportunity shopper”, and can easily find something that works for me pretty much anywhere! I also love vintage stores, particularly in Palm Beach! Adding vintage and unique items to your armoire gives you a different look that sets you apart from anyone else. Being in Miami, one of the shopping capitals in the world, means that I have pretty much every designer that there is around me, but because it is also a tourist destination, I always wait for a good sale. I don’t need to be the first person to wear something. I don’t aim to be trendy. I rather wait to get it at a better price once I am sure that it will work for me.
9. Tell us a little about your social circle.
I don’t have a huge social circle, courtesy of having moved around so much! I also work a lot, so I’m not in parties every weekend!
10. Whats the next step for you?
I am almost done working on the writing and development of 14 books for children, ages 3-6, with my mother and brother. These are workbooks to develop cognitive abilities, improve dexterity, attention & observation, as well as problem solving and creativity, among other skills. It has been a long process of many years, so we are very excited about that. It has nothing to do with fashion, but it is an amazing opportunity to touch and change lives for the better! It is really a family affair! My brother has done all of the graphic design, while my mom and I have developed the content.
11. All time favorite quote!
It is not necessarily a quote, but since I teach leadership theory, I am always very aware of being “authentic”. We all must strive to be authentic. Being authentic means being vulnerable, and honest, and to focus on strengths and effectively manage our weaknesses. I always say: “We all die alone”, so ultimately, we are responsible for our own lives. We need to keep in mind how we want to be remembered by others, and act accordingly every day of our lives. It’s our choice, and it must be a conscious one. We cannot waste it trying to please everyone we encounter! And then, of course, the quote by Karl Lagerfeld that I mentioned earlier…it cracks me up!
12. DO you consider yourself a traditional person, if so, how do you manage within a society that rebukes tradition.
I am a PROUD traditional person! I don’t care what other people think, in that respect. I never have! I am also very outspoken, so I have no problem defending my positions, values, and beliefs. I don’t compromise them, but I am a good listener. I also don’t take myself too seriously, so I can always make fun of myself. I don’t want to appear as intimidating (I hear sometimes I may come across like that!), so I try to make people laugh. Being traditional or old-fashioned nowadays is almost as subversive as being modern was back when!
13. How has your style evolved?
A coworker to whom I showed a picture from when I was little said: “Look, it’s the same Susana but with smaller clothes!” I cracked up! It was SUCH a funny comment, but so true! My style has not changed, but it has obviously evolved. How? The way in which I incorporate trends or fashionable touches naturally changes with time, but overall, I continue to favor the same style, always. When I was a very young girl, I was always very conscious of never wearing something that would make my 30 or 40 year-old self laugh and say: “What was I thinking?” So no, you won’t find pictures of my teenaged 80s self with crazy-permed hair or wearing black punk lipstick! I certainly wasn’t the trendiest of my friends, but I never strived for fashionable, just timeless elegance. I want to continue that way,
14. Coffee or tea? How do you take each?
Both, but not a whole lot of either! I like my coffee lightly roasted, and with lots of milk and no sugar. With regards to tea, I mostly drink white or green tea, but I also love English Breakfast with honey and lemon.
15. What would you like your followers to get out of following you?
First and foremost that you don’t have to wear or BUY the latest trends to dress elegantly. I am a huge proposer of shopping in your armoire for completely different looks. I think one of the most valuable parts of my blog is the color ways that I include with each outfit. I want people to see that they don’t have to wear exactly what I have, but that if they have pieces with those same colors, they can mix them or style them similarly. I want people to lose the fear of opening their closets and saying I have NOTHING to wear. It is not true, of course! I want people to gain confidence in seeing their clothes with lots of possibilities. That is also why I always link back to how I have styled what I am wearing before. That way, readers can see how the same piece may look completely different in another look.