Interview with Jennifer

I have followed Jennifer’s style for years and she has a very unique, chic view of fashion and possesses a fantastic eye for lovely items of all forms. She was kind enough to share with me many photographs and I have included them throughout the interview. I am sure you’ll all enjoy meeting her – now onto the interview!

Who are you? What do you do and where do you live?

My name is Jennifer Sakai. I’m a photographer, I live in Washington, D.C.

You have such unique style and in my opinion are very French influenced. Who are some of your style icons?

Thank you. I  would say my style is mix of contemporary influences and vintage.  I’m interested in French designers and icons: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emmanuele Alt, Jane Birkin, and such, but I’m also interested in American style. I think simplicity is beautiful.

What are some of your most treasured items?

My most treasured clothing item are my Grandmothers silk Kimono’s from the 20’s.  They were my inheritance after she passed. They’re in immaculate original condition and came in their own original wooden box tied with a linen cord. It was very apropos since she always sent me packages wrapped in brown craft paper tied with twine. If my house were on fire, after my dog it would be the only thing I would take.

In the non-personal vein I have many unique things that I’ve found over the years that I treasure. I have a long velvet coat that’s from the 1940’s, vintage 1960’s silk scarves that I wear all summer, as well as many treasured bags and shoes.

What are some of the items you wear the most? The most versatile ones?

It’s funny, I have a large armoire of clothing as well as a large vintage iron rack from a department store from the 30’s that holds all of my clothing – I have more clothing then frankly one needs and yet I always grab the same basic things week after week. Lately it’s been black fitted cropped cigarette pants with a simple top, usually A.P.C.  If I find something that I like I’ll buy a few of them and just wear it over and over again, it could be a good pair of shoes or a t-shirt – never underestimate the perfect t-shirt. I’m also interested in vintage clothing. I’ll wear my jeans or cigarette pants with a vintage shirt and black ankle boots, this was my uniform 99 percent of the time this past fall and winter.  I have a fondness for all things orange as you can see, as well as pattern.

Quality vintage is getting harder to find. When I lived in Boston the Garment District was my main resource. Back then it was a wall-to-wall warehouse filled with vintage clothing and accessories. I still have a few of my favorite vintage haunts though.

What trend were you crazy about at one point that you’re now completely over?

I try to stay away from trends. I’m sort of past the time of your life where you jump on every new fashion craze. I know what works for me and what will not be at all flattering. Even if I love the concept of that piece of clothing I’ll pass it by if it doesn’t work on me.

Which designers do you think are great right now that are underrated? Which do you think are overrated?

Under rated: I would say Orla Kiely’s clothing. She makes beautiful coats and dresses, but they’re not as popular here as in Europe, so they’re harder to find. I love Steven Alan, Phoebe Philo, Balenciaga, A.P.C. , Opening Ceremony, Isabel Marant and Rachel Comey. Overrated? I’m not sure – probably someone so trendy or hip they’re not even on my radar.

What’s your advice for somebody who wants to dress with a Parisian influence but still with very American style?

I think people become entranced with the idea of Parisian style – when what they’re really attracted to is simplicity and someone that looks at home in their clothing.  It’s often about simple pants, beautiful shoes and a lovely shirt. In essence it’s all about fit. If you need to have your clothing tailored to your height or build then do it – a good tailor is a treasure.  I think beautiful fabrics are wonderful too, the perfect cashmere cardigan or the freshness of an eyelet cotton shirt. I wore a lot of thick oversized handmade scarves this past winter and I realized that while I loved the homemade craftsmanship of the piece, what I really loved was the smell of the wool next to my face. I have an obsession about scents – but that’s another story.

What’s your advice overall for somebody who is just getting into buying luxury items, dressing with care?

I find I spend the most money on accessories, shoes, bags, etc. and coats. The rest of your outfit can be very basic and if your accessories are unique and beautiful then it ties it all together. I buy one very nice piece every season and wear it to death.  Last winter if was an Orla Kiely coat –  this spring I’ve purchased a pair of limited edition Vena Cava shoes. I’ve also fallen in love with these Chloe shoes that look like they’re right out of the 1940’s, but they have a very padded foot bed, so more comfortable then vintage. I’d rather have one beautiful treasure then lots of lesser stuff.

What are some of your other hobbies and interests?

I am a bit of a collector so there are a lot of things I  treasure in my home. I collect vintage cameras both working and decorative, vintage kitchenware, 1940’s café au lait bowls and French bistro match strikers. I’m also interested in vintage furniture; my dining room set is a group of  1940’s wooden rolling chairs from a dentist office paired with my Grandmothers old drop leaf mahogany table.  I love the ephemeral: Polaroid photographs, plants that flower, die and are reborn again. I’m interested in mixing the modern with vintage. Everything new and modern is too cold for me, it looks like you ordered your home from a catalogue – I like patina to my possessions, things that have a bit of wear and history.

Anything else you want to share? 

I’d love to share a photo of my beloved dog. I was so flattered you asked me to do this interview.  I never thought of exactly what my style would be before we spoke – I’m just attracted to things I find interesting,  it can be a beautiful clutch made of repurposed leather or an old iron table that used to sit in a garden – it’s the history and craft of the item I’m attracted to.

I really enjoyed this interview and especially loved the fact that Jennifer included so many photos of her beautiful home and decor – I hope you all enjoyed it too! I think you can tell so much by the way somebody decorates their home (but I should be exempt from this as mine currently looks like hobos took over).   Thank you again to Jennifer for taking the time to answer my many questions and graciously including many stunning photographs.

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  • Nikki
    May 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    I relish the idea of interview Wednesdays! Both your questions and her answers were well done. I especially loved the photos. I actually live a stone's throw from her (she lives in DC, I in Baltimore) so I'm definitely interested to hear what some of her fav vintage stores are in the area.

  • Lulu B
    May 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Wow I always love these interviews you do! What an amazing vinatge looking place, love it , so retro. Really inspiring xx :o)

  • Julie
    May 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I love the pup pics! I have a chocolate lab too so those dogs are most definitely near and dear to my heart.

    Thank you for conducting these interviews. I love reading them!

  • Tangles
    May 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Simply lovely. I just love these interviews! Not only do we get to peek in other people's closets, but also into their lives. I love Jennifer's style and the rustic feel of her home.

  • Samantha
    May 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    YAY for Interview Wednesday! Thank you for another wonderful post. I loved seeing all the photos of her home – just beautiful (and her pup is great too)!

  • Annette
    May 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Where do you find all these interesting people?

    I love how this interview encompasses Jennifer's overall style, and not just on her clothes. All the photos she shared were wonderful.

  • Make Mommy Chic
    May 11, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Katherine, please continue with these interviews. They are so much fun and so much fun to read at work 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  • EllysMakeupbag
    May 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Im loving to read these interviews so much, i love the style from all the girls you presented.

  • Fashion Is Passion by Poison
    May 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    I love her vintage clutches!


  • Corina
    May 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Great!! Loved the house!!

  • Some Style...
    May 11, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    this is amazing…the camera collection is remarkable, me wanna, too! 😉

    have to check out more about her! very inspiring! xoxo

  • amy b.s.
    May 11, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    definitely jealous of that camera collection!

  • Twenty.Something
    May 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Oh such awesome photos!

    I want all those shoes.


  • Tara @ Haute Lunch
    May 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Great interview, as usual! 🙂 I totally agree with Jennifer's philosophy about accessorizing! I definitely spend the most on my bags, shoes, and jewelry!

  • Lisa
    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    I love her kitche cabinet the contents are so cute!!

    I def spend the most money on bags, shoes, accessories and jewelry!! People always seem surprised when I tel pl them my clothes are from forever 21 or something haha.

    Oh haha I was there this past weekend.. But I'm at Neuhaus once a week every week haha.

  • Lisa
    May 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Neimans I mean. I hate iPad autocorrect!

  • Marissa
    May 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I love her vintage camera collection! I found a booth with hundreds of old cameras at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and debated on starting a collection of them. Now she has me convinced I need them! xoxo Marissa

  • LV
    May 11, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Great interview! I absolutely love your interview series. These photos are amazing and you did a great job of capturing the essence of her style through your questions and these photos.

  • Dale
    May 11, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Wow, this is such a cool post, I love all the old shoes. You did a great job with this interview and photos


  • t h e l i n e s h e e t
    May 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This is fantastic! I love reading about people's lives! This was done wonderfully. I love all of her found objects. They are photographed very well!

  • t h e l i n e s h e e t
    May 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This is fantastic! I love reading about people's lives! This was done wonderfully. I love all of her found objects. They are photographed very well!

  • t h e l i n e s h e e t
    May 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This is fantastic! I love reading about people's lives! This was done wonderfully. I love all of her found objects. They are photographed very well!

  • t h e l i n e s h e e t
    May 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    This is fantastic! I love reading about people's lives! This was done wonderfully. I love all of her found objects. They are photographed very well!

  • Chic 'n Cheap Living
    May 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Love the vintage cameras! I am slowly but surely trying to find unique vintage items.

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  • Mindy♥
    May 14, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I agree with so many of the things she said! 🙂 I'm into splurging on accessories like bags, shoes, scarves, etc. as well! ^o^

  • Shasie
    May 16, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    So cool! Really love those vintage cameras. Amazing

    Live Life in Style