Associate Editor of Styles and Trends at POPSUGAR, Leah Melby is no doubt a young influencer in the fashion industry. We love that her favorite things are a mix between a timeless sensibility and a modern interpretation of classic style that's hard to duplicate. Read about why she loves every kind of boot, can't live without her slightly-off-white knee length Chanel skirt, and what she's currently coveting...
Item I own that gets better with age: Boots. Riding boots, motorcycle boots…any boot. They look so full of life when the leather starts to age.
Best vintage buy: An ever so slightly off-white knee-length Chanel skirt that my mom gifted me a few birthdays ago. It was in pristine condition and fit like a glove. It's crepe and perfectly cut - my favorite is wearing it when I walk down stairs since it flares and moves around my knees. Beautiful movement in a piece of clothing can really just give you shivers.
Place I love to visit that’s rich in history: As an American, I'm consistently shocked to travel abroad and absorb how old other places are. To us, a few hundred years feels like forever but in a place like Paris, it's nothing. Still, my most favorite history-rich place is a spot that's steeped in my own personal history. My father owns a house in the North Carolina mountains and his parents had a cabin when I was growing up, so it's been this vacation constant since I was a baby. I feel so grateful that I have this small, gorgeous area that I can return to and see streets and restaurants and trails that have been a part of my life forever.
My secret to looking timeless: Think about whatever you're wearing as having two structural parts of its DNA – the shape and the print. If you're going with a really zany, bold pattern or color, keep the fit ultra-simple - a shape your grandmother would recognize. And, conversely, if you want to push the envelope with a silhouette, do it in a solid. I think going with a crazy print in a crazy shape is just a disaster waiting to happen.
Most powerful photo I’ve ever seen: This seems so editor-y of me, but most recently, the ASME-award-winning New York Magazine cover after Hurricane Sandy. It shows half the island completely in the dark and it was just so arresting. Aside from the physical destruction, I think it was a very scary moment of realizing how quickly we can be cut off from things; this powerful city brought to its knees.
Favorite vintage fashion trend: Full skirts that hit at the mid-calf. I've always loved overtly feminine silhouettes and I don't think much could top this one (other than a huge ball gown). They're so fun to wear and so pretty from both the side and the front. I love how they can be styled in a very modern way, too – tuck in a flimsy little tank and you're perfect.
Smell that makes me feel most nostalgic: Any of the delicious florals that populated my front yard at home in Florida – gardenia bushes and creeping jasmine. You don't smell them often up north, but whenever I do get a whiff I'm stopped, instantly.
What I’m currently coveting: So much Isabel Marant! I'm so frustrated her quilted jackets seem impossible to find online right now. I'd been coveting the embellished, block-heel Carol sandal but I just snagged a pair in the Barneys sale and am feeling pretty excited…
Best advice I’ve ever received: Work hard, be nice. I remember past bosses telling me I'd become meaner after I'd lived and worked in New York for awhile, and I tried explaining to them that I really, really didn't want that to happen. I think kindness comes back ten-fold and just feels better to give out. Be nice to people, be easy to get along with. It's better for you, it's better for the long-haul, it's better for your work.
Music that always takes me back: "Stairway to Heaven."
Film that I can watch over and over again: I wish I could say something chic and highbrow, but honestly, for me, it's Stepbrothers. I laugh out loud every single time, at multiple points, and it just delights me.
Favorite family recipe: A Corn Bread that’s been passed down through a few generations. Everyone puts their own spin on it and makes it their own. I've upped the bread factor - where you can cut it in wedges and eat it with your hands - whereas I think my mom prefers a soupier consistency that almost has to be spooned on your plate. I've only given out the recipe a handful of times, each with a promise that the person won't share it at any point in the future. I'm pretty threatening about it.
Tastiest mom-and-pop shop that’s been feeding me for years: There's a diner in my hometown that's forever been a must-stop whenever I'm there. I think I've ordered the same thing every single time…sweet potato pancakes, home fries, and coffee. It's so good and the owners and servers are so nice - it just feels very southern. It's also one of those places where every time I go, I'm guaranteed to see someone I know. My last visit was when I was home for a friend's wedding. We went the day-of and lo-and-behold, when I stood up from the table, I realized the groom was sitting behind us. It's just that kind of place, where you eat breakfast on the morning of your wedding.
Blog I’m currently addicted to: My latest inspirational discovery is The Native Fox. She's beautiful and I love her style. I also haven't managed to get over Love Taza yet…she really makes me want to quit my job and become a full-time mom in the city. And I'm not married and definitely don't have kids, so that's saying something.
I couldn’t live without: My dog, Holly. We've had her for just over a year now and what everyone says is true – owning a dog changes your life in the loveliest way. She's a constant companion, she's nice to snuggle with, and I think she honestly can understand what I'm talking about. Pets are also the best fix for a bad day.
Words to dress by: We live in New York and no matter how crazy you think your outfit looks, there's without doubt, someone crazier out there. Just wear it already.