My first lesson in fashion came straight from my momma. My mother is always put together no matter what is happening. Even when she’s lounging around the house, she has on earrings and lipstick.

Every afternoon after school, she’d holler at my brother and me while we were playing in the backyard to “take off your good clothes!” Such is the Southern way. My hometown of Murray, KY, wasn’t the fashion capital of the world, but what I learned there was that clothes matter and to take care of them. When I started modeling overseas, I dropped the big hair and pearls of the ’90s. Actually, I made my momma drop the blue eyeliner she used to wear, too! But I still didn’t lose all my Southern style. Southern style is all about easy elegance — with a little bit of sass!

With that in mind, here are my five rules of Southern style that still ring true for me to this day:

Southern fashion calls for a tailored look, a great pair of heels and a little rouge.

Southern fashion calls for a tailored look, a great pair of heels and a little rouge.

1. “A little rouge never hurt nobody!”

This “Southern-ism” comes straight from my momma’s mouth. Southern women are known for always looking put together. It’s truly something that everyone can learn from! If you’re leaving the house, just pop some color on the lip and a little color on the cheeks, and you’re good to go. I’ve learned that the key to making some rouge last is start with a cream blush and layer with powder. It’s foolproof!

This rouge cream blush from New York Cosmetics is $6.

Pop a little color on your cheeks before you leave the house. Image: NYX Cosmetics

2. You can never have too much jewelry.

And, no. I’m not talking about just a pearl necklace! Jewelry is like the icing on top of the cake for me. An outfit just isn’t complete without it. I love layering my necklaces, and each has a special meaning to me. It’s absolutely key! Just like a great lip color can bring together an outfit, so can a great accessory. I only have one rule: if you’re layering bracelets, don’t do both wrists. Keep it to one so it doesn’t look too overwhelming.

Have fun when you layer your necklaces. Here's a quick guide for how to do it.

Want to layer your necklaces? Here’s an easy guide for how to do it.

3. Keep it tailored.

This should go without saying! It’s all about following the principle of proportion. If something is tight on the top, go looser on the bottom. If you have a tight jean on the bottom, reverse it and go fuller on top. All tight or all loose can look messy or just plain inappropriate. It also creates a better balance and gives the impression of an hourglass figure. If you find yourself needing to take things in for a more tailored look, pick a great seamstress and stick with them. They’ll know your body and what you like for every outfit.

A tailored look is so very Southern. Image:

A tailored look is so very Southern. Image:

4. Create your “core-drobe.”

Like I said earlier, one huge Southern lesson in fashion I learned was to take care of my clothes and make them last. After spending time overseas, I could convert 10 pieces of clothing into 10,000 outfits. It’s all about finding your core wardrobe, or “core-drobe” as I like to call it. And every girl — Southern or not — needs one!

Here are my “core-drobe” must haves:

  • Tailored black blazer
  • White collared blouse
  • Pencil skirt
  • Tailored dress pants
  • Little black dress
  • Classic trench coat
  • Black leather jacket
  • White jacket or blazer
  • Summer pant in white or neutral
  • Various cozy cardigans
  • Cashmere knit sweaters
  • Floral dresses (of course!)
  • Long, layering tanks & tees
  • Jeans: a skinny (dark denim), a boyfriend jean and a flare leg
  • Jean jacket
  • Something with sequins
  • Trendy pieces to rotate in

With a core wardrobe, you’ll never go wrong. Oh, and forget what you’ve heard — your shoes, jewelry and bag don’t need to match.

A great floral dress should be part of your "core-"drobe.

A great floral dress should be part of your “core-drobe.”

5. Heels are an instant mood booster.

I’m serious about this one, y’all! If you’re ever feeling blah and uninspired, a heel will unleash your inner superwoman. There’s just something about a heel that is so feminine and powerful! Next time you’re feeling down, throw on your favorite pair of heels and attack.

A great pair of shoes (like these Jimmy Choos) is an instant mood-booster!

A great pair of shoes (like these Jimmy Choos) is an instant mood-booster!

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