Alison Piepmeyer Blue Striped Dress

“My husband teases me that I’m terrified of looking ‘schlumpy,’” my friend Alison Piepmeyer told me, which is funny because she always looks so polished and bright. Here, the marketing exec and mother of two shares her secrets, including the best balloon pants, thrifting hacks and her beautiful advice on grieving…

Alison Piepmeyer blue striped dress

Dress: SZ Blockprints. Mary Janes: Amazon. Clutch: Clare V., available second-hand. Earrings: Mejuri, similar. Heart necklace: Catbird. Nail color: Big Apple Red by Opi. Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Lilac Rose (“I get breakouts, so it’s the only lipstick I can use because it doesn’t have wax”).

“I work at Color Factory, and I feel like part of my job as CMO is to look the part. For that reason, a section of my wardrobe is very bright and happy. I love a maxi dress, and I love stripes, so when I saw this dress, it was a fit. I’ll wear when I’m giving a tour at work or meeting with investors, and I’ll wear it on date nights with my husband.”

Alison Piepmeyer blue striped dress

“Honestly, I’m a very phase-y person with my wardrobe. When we lived in San Francisco, I called my style ‘French Fisherman’ and wore beanies and canvas pants. Then there was a season when I traveled to Tokyo, got into Japanese style and bought all my clothes from Muji. Nowadays, I’m inspired by Sienna Miller‘s minimal style and Meg Ryan’s ’90s looks.”

Alison Piepmeyer overalls black blouse

Blouse: Mille, sold out, similar. Overalls: Levi’s. Sandals: Birkenstocks. Hoops: Mejuri. Nail color: Big Apple Red by Opi. Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Lilac Rose.

“When I was pregnant with my daughter, who’s now eight months old, I wore overalls all the time. If you’re running errands but want to feel interesting, here’s your outfit. And I always wear ruffled shirts underneath; I like that contrast between delicate things and workhorse denim.”

Alison Piepmeyer overalls black blouse

“With my hair, I’ve experimented with every color and length — when I got married, it was down to my waist; right after our wedding, I got a pixie. But five years ago, I finally found a cut that feels like me. When I go to a new stylist, I’ll show them a Pinterest board with a bunch of photos of the same haircut. When I showed my new Brooklyn stylist, he was like, yeah, I got it, you crazy nutso lady!”

Alison Piepmeyer baseball hat

Shirt: vintage, similar. T-shirt: Uniqlo. Jeans: COS. Sneakers: Veja. Baseball cap: Amazon. Necklace: Catbird. Bracelet: Banana Republic. Nail color: Big Apple Red by Opi. Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Lilac Rose.

“Seventy-five percent of my clothes are from stores, and 25% are thrifted. At thrift stores, I’ll look only for denim or cotton or linen, versus synthetic fibers. Otherwise you can get stuck in the store forever. I also like the men’s sections because they’re less picked over — I found this oversized men’s chambray shirt for like $4.”

Alison Piepmeyer baseball hat

“For regular stores, Alex Mill makes cute classics. I turn to COS for sculptural shapes, like the balloon-y pants I’m wearing here. And all my basics are from Uniqlo because their stuff lasts forever.”

Alison Piepmeyer white suit

Blazer: Everlane, sold out, similar. Shirt: Uniqlo. Pants: Uniqlo. Shoes: Sézane, similar. Bag: Clare V. Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Lilac Rose.

“My dad died suddenly this past June. That night is seared into my memory because I was excited — my brother had just come over, and we were going to celebrate his birthday with burgers and a big bottle of Champagne. The sky was a vivid blue. My husband had the stereo outside playing this French radio station he’s obsessed with called FIP. Our kids were sitting on a playmat. Then I got a call from my mom, and she said, it’s not looking good. In that moment, so many weird things go through your mind. I was supposed to leave on a business trip the next day, and I immediately was like, who is going to run that business trip?”

“I became the defacto person who was connecting all the family members. I was very calm. Nothing felt real, it felt like I was in a movie. The first time I cried was a few hours later when my mom went to the hospital and they pronounced him dead. Then I was like, wait, what? Since then, it’s been this surreal summer. Small things will set me off and I’ll cry. And other times life feels totally normal. And then I hate that it’s normal. His death still doesn’t make sense to me. I’ve talked to other people who’ve lost their parents and they said they felt numb. I have two little kids who need my attention all the time and a demanding job, so I compartmentalize. And now that it’s fall, my son is going back to school, and work is calming down, and in some ways I’m worried — what will that mean when I can come up for air? Will I lose it?”

“My four-year-old son Linus tells EVERYONE. His conversation starter at the playground is, ‘My grandpa died!’ But I get it. When someone asks me how my summer was, I can’t help saying, ‘Well, my dad died in June.’ It makes me feel better getting it out there. It’s like a mosquito bite that you want to scratch — it hurts but it feels good. It’s a pain that I want. It hurts so good, is that the phrase?”

Shirt: Alex Mill (“I fold the cuffs the way Jenna Lyons does in this YouTube video“). Pants: Muji, sold out, similar. Loafers: Intentionally Blank. Hoops: Mejuri. Sunglasses: Warby Parker. Nail color: Big Apple Red by Opi. Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Lilac Rose.

“Things that make me feel better: Abbott Elementary is so cute and well done. My son loves Harry Styles, so we listen to his songs mixed with spooky Halloween music. And you just have to wake up and get dressed and go outside. Then I like when people give me a big hug and say, ‘I’m so sorry, this sucks, I love you, and I’m here.’”

P.S. More women share their weeks of outfits, including a bike-riding dietician and a color-loving architect.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)

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