The Full Monty on Celia Smith

Silk kimono

Definition: The Full Monty: 

British slang phrase.  It is generally used to mean “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”
.     .     .

I met Celia several years ago via a mutual friend and I have always admired her style (and look at that hair).  Our paths have crossed often, usually during fashion week but I had always wanted to catch up properly with her to talk style and to have her show me her wardrobe.   When I made the suggestion she was up for it! 

Silk Kimono

H&M x Margiela
“This is like a kimono that’s really pretty and flowy. I don’t know how I even managed to get this because that sale was crazy.  It’s 100% silk and is just so well made.  I like the asian aesthetic and decor because it’s super clean and fuss free.”

Prada heels

Shoes: Prada outlet
“A woman started trying these on and I immediately saw the heel and thought they were beautiful. They remind me of ball dancing shoes.  I love to wear them with jeans because I think that it’s such a fun juxtaposition. 
I think Prada and Miu Miu do really good shoes.”

Military coat

Vintage: Military Trench Coat
“This is a military coat that my sister found. I think it’s really cool and it’s so thick.  It cinches at the waist and the shape is so pretty that it looks like an A line dress.”

curly hair styles

“This is the first time that I’ve ever cut my hair but it feels so Parisian chic.  To me it’s a really chic way to wear your hair curly. I said give me something blunt and dramatic.”

Prada heeled boots

Boots: Prada outlet at Woodbury Commons
“I got these from the Prada outlet.  I was going to get these green ones and the red pair. I got green because I felt like they were classic. The heel is so tall I actually had to have them cut down twice.   They are so cool. They’re like S&M garter meets gardner.  
The original runway versions were over the knee and the garter strap was closer to the thigh.  I paid less than $200.  They are leather but look like rain boots.”

Celia Smith

I had been at Essence magazine for three years and felt that it was time to start a new chapter.

I started the lifestyle company Needle & Thraed because I wanted to do something that’s about giving back.

Chic New York homes

Beaded Cushion (far right): Needle & Thraed
“I partnered with local Nigerian tailors and fabric shops in Harlem and I started buying beautiful fabrics and making throw pillows.  It’s about supporting local talent.   I’m now working with a woman that has  co-operative in Kenya and I partner up with Masai women who are employed to make beautiful beaded pillows and cushions.”

wide leg pants

Wide leg pants: Chanel
“I love classic striped Parisian tops and I just LOVE these wide leg pants. They are quintessential Chanel.
My sister re-sells vintage and she gets all these good things.”

Vintage Chanel shoes

Shoes: Vintage Chanel
“There was a point where I was obsessed with having cap toe vintage shoes that belonged to someone’s grandma from eBay.  I found these and thought they were classic black and white Chanel cap toe shoes and they were brand new.”

vintage shearling coat

Shearling coat: Vintage find in Cape Cod
“I wasn’t going to get it because I’d just cleared my closet.  I clear out my closet a lot and give stuff to my sisters.  This was like $150 and I thought do I need another coat? Isn’t it so friggin cool?!
You can buy into fast fashion but if you’re not careful you get sucked into buying everything from Zara and H&M.  It’s not that I’m anti them but it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of buying everything from there.”

White boyfriend blazer

Blazer: DKNY vintage: Usedgoodsnyc Instagram.  Shoes: Calvin Klein
“I’m my sister’s best and her worst customer because great things never actually reach the customer! Our style’s are very much in sync even though she’s more tomboy-ish.   
So these shoes I found for like $7 at TJMaxx in Pookeepsie.”

Teddy coat

Teddy coat: Thrift/Second hand
“So this must be Carvan’s inspiration.  It’s like the original teddy coat.  It’s super cute!  It’s just crazy.  That’s why I like thrift shops because they know no trends and this is someone’s grandmothers probably.  It was $29 and is so warm I could wear a t-shirt under it.
You can really tell people who have a true eye because you have to scour the thrift shop. You are the filter.  You are the editor, the buyer and the stylist.  Soon as you see something you can have a vision of five ways to wear it.” 

Celia Smith

“I’ve kinda cleared my closet of all the things that were very trendy and that I didn’t really love. I had a bunch of really random things and I had to streamline my closet and apply my editing skills.  Not to pigeon hole my look but so that each and every time I’d go into my closet, I would love each and every piece.
I feel like my style is really minimal and pared down.  At an early age I worked with a lady in an advertising agency.  She had a really minimal aesthetic, including her loft. Everything was Design Within Reach.  It was all black and white. I think that helped inspire my own personal style.  Then I had another boss, an editor from Vibe magazine and he had a super minimal style.  They both helped shaped my style so I knew I’d want my home to be like that; clean with pops of colour and now I’m finding that I want my wardrobe to be like that too.”

Chloe shoes

Shoes: Chloe
“I found these at Housing Works thrift shop! I love beautiful things but I’m not in the business of going broke for those beautiful pieces so I’m a huge advocate of shopping vintage and outlet stores.  Baller on a budget basically!
I’m all about rationalizing purchases.  Finding something for $50 at H&M is nothing compared to what you’ll find for $50 at say Housing Works etc.”

Prada shoes

Shoes: Prada
“These were from a Prada sample sale. They used to do really good sample sales. This is crocodile and wood bamboo and I thought they they were a work of art.  I paid around $75.  
To me those are the best finds when you can say ‘ok I can still have my savings account and don’t have to kill myself to get it.’ 
There’s a quote from one of Erykah Badu’s songs that goes: ‘I don’t waste time trying to be who I’m not. I don’t waste time trying to get what you got.’  If I could just live by that then that is perfect. So you’re not wasting time trying to be this it person or trying to get this it thing. It’s not about that and life is not about that.  I love clothing and getting dressed because it makes me feel confident and alive but that’s what’s important and that’s why I wanted to start something more socially acceptable and not about material things – even though I still love beautiful things! 
I really love seventies style. I know it’s a trend but I feel that I’ve always loved it.  It’s one of those decades that just never goes out of style.  That’s why I love wide leg pants and seventies style Chaka Khan neck chokers.”


Boots: Stuart Weitzman
“These boots to me are rocker chic.  Kate Moss was wearing them so she kinda convinced me.   The color is like a cross between sand and grey which I loved.
Shopping wise I find that I get the best deals when I go to places like good will and Salvation Army. I do love Housing Works. I love that whole strip on 17th street between sixth and seventh streets.  On that street you have Housing Works and Angel Thrift Shop across the street which is great because it’s organized by colour.  I love going to random good wills and Salvation Armys.   I love nice things but I’m not a brand whore.   I’m not breaking my back trying to keep up with the joneses.
One thing that annoys me on street style blogs is that everyone is in the same exact trends and the same exact looks.  There is not a lot of individuality and everyone’s just buying the hot thing at the moment.
After a while photographers start shooting these people and everyone’s starting to look the same:  the street style super star who gets the most clicks.
I worked at a trend forecasting agency that do research for big brands and they would tell the brands ‘these are the latest street trends in Europe or spots in London where people are not trying to follow trends and are actual trend setters.  This is why you see designers keeping the same silhouettes and the same styles and color palettes. They are being sold the same information of ‘hey this is what is going to sell this season.’  I get it because it’s a business but they are being spoon fed the same trend direction versus allowing themselves to be brilliant.
Then you have this trickle down of street stylers and bloggers wearing that same thing.  I’ve seen these things because I was an editor and kept seeing the same things over and over again.  
The coolest people are the ones that are not following any trends.”


  1. Ela says:

    Such a great post. Thanks.

  2. L'Espace says:

    Nice! L’Espace

  3. Katarzyna says:

    The best Full Monty ever!Celia’s style is simply beyond excellence!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Wow thank you! I’m glad we finally got to connect

      • Katarzyna Wojnicka says:

        Does she have blog or Instagram?I’m looking for new inspirations right now cos except your blog, Karen, everything else is so boring….

  4. Nicoletta De Luca says:

    Her style is really inspiring! Outfit trech coat+stripes a combo for everybody on lb-lc fashion blog| bloglovin’

  5. Sign of Signature Style says:

    Great read and interview.

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      Thanks. I kind of look at these features as a mini newspaper almost LOL

  6. Mak says:

    This was a good one!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I love her style and her thinking. What is her sister’s business called? I want to visit the store. Thanks, Alex

  8. Tara says:

    She is lovely, and her style and POV are just right. Thank you for sharing!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      No problem she is great and has opinions

  9. Anonymous says:

    “One thing that annoys me on street style blogs is that everyone is in the same exact trends and the same exact looks. There is not a lot of individuality and everyone’s just buying the hot thing at the moment…” Brillant! Thank you! Lindsey via Vegas

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      I had to literally write word for word what she was saying here….

  10. Dobe says:

    This has to be, hands down, the best Full Monty yet. She has great style, and great perspective when it comes to style. I love everything about it! Hats off to Celia!

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      oh wow thank you. She’ll be so chuffed to read this

    • Karen Blanchard says:

      oh good I hope these photos do that actually

  11. Carelia Moran says:

    OK, This is by far, my very favorite full monty! I love everything she has, because I have something very similar in my own wardrobe (including the awesome vintage trench). I also love her philosophy of being careful overloading your wardrobe with fast fashion. And OMG!! That lipstick that she is wearing is the bomb. She really got my attention. Do you know if she has Instagram?

  12. Rebeckah Apara says:

    Such a nice read. I really like her ethics in style and shopping.

  13. PinkCheetahVintage says:

    She’s so gorgeous and I love her style. Those white Chloe sandals and that military jacket!!!

  14. Brandi says:

    Those last few paragraphs…Preach on Preacher!!! The only reason I look at certain style bogs (definitely NOT talking about this one) is to know what not to wear. They’re all carbon copies of one another. Your style is for eclectic and unique. I find that so refreshing. Style is what I strive for, trends I try to avoid. Much respect to you and Celia.

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