Some women are so dynamic that it's hard to find the words to properly describe them. Libby Callaway is one of those women. Before she founded Nashville-based branding agency, The Callaway, Libby worked as a fashion editor and writer, contributing to some of the most recognizable publications around (Elle, the New York Times’ T magazine, Style.com, and Glamour, to name a few). Oh, and we should also mention her history as a wardrobe stylist and vintage clothing dealer.
Given her incredibly well-edited and stylish history, it's no surprise that she describes her personal aesthetic as "to the max." Libby's certainly not afraid of making a fashion statement and, according to her, in Nashville, she doesn't have to be. Where outsiders might immediately picture cowboy boots and big brass belt buckles, Libby sees the city's style as one that defies expectations, which she credits to the thriving local fashion scene.
Here, the southern style icon breaks down all the best local Nashville brands and where she learned how to dress so kick ass.
What is the most stylish street in your city?
12th Avenue South, which is located in a real residential neighborhood and therefore very walkable (read: very shopable). The street is home to local denim makers Imogene + Willie as well as boutiques like Emerson Grace, Hero, White’s Mercantile, and Draper James, which is Reese Witherspoon’s joint. It’s also where my client, accessories designer Ceri Hoover, recently opened her flagship.
What’s a perfect Sunday afternoon in your city?
Any great weekend afternoon follows brunch at Marche, my favorite East Nashville bistro. From there, it’s all about antiquing. First, I hit Wonders on Woodland to check out the amazing MCM furniture and antique jewelry. Then I walk a block to Fanny’s House of Music, where the clothes and the instruments are vintage (and excellent). I hate to leave the Eastside on the weekend, but the finds at both the Gas Lamp and Downtown antique malls are worth the hassle. If I have time on the way back home, I’ll drop by Wilder, the contemporary design store owned by my buddies Ivy and Josh Elrod.
What do you love about fashion in Nashville?
That it defies expectations. For the most part, the only folks you see walking around in cowboy boots and Western hats are tourists! The coolest thing to happen in Nashville fashion-wise over the last few years is the emergence of dozens of terrific local brands. These days, you can dress head to toe in clothing and accessories designed in Nashville. And I'm not just talking about workwear: the luxury market is being addressed head-on. For instance, I work with a young designer named Cavanagh Baker who sources fabric from the same vendors as Dries Van Noten.
When you can’t think of anything to wear, what’s your go-to outfit?
Jumpsuits are just so easy, right? In the winter, I reach for my orange Vietnam-era flight suit; when it gets warmer, I go for a lightweight silk number from Nashville designer Elizabeth Suzann. I pull on a pair of Margiela ankle boots from my growing collection (I have bit of an obsession) and boom! Out the door.
The first thing I do in the morning is…
Make coffee using local beans from Barista Parlor and a green smoothie from a recipe on Nutrition Stripped, the wellness website run by my friend McKel Hill. I work out at 7 a.m. with a trainer several days a week and this gives me the energy I need to make it to the gym and back before breakfast.
What is the best piece of style advice you ever received and from whom?
This isn’t advice, per se, but my mother has always taught me by example that it is perfectly OK to not dress like everyone else. She certainly didn't when I was a kid! In her flannel Ralph Lauren peasant dresses, big turquoise jewelry, and tall Italian leather boots, she was a bohemian vision that stood out in our conservative Southern community. I am bold in my dress today because of her early influence.
What are your top three beauty essentials?
I'm very Nashville-centric in this area. I’ll say one, skincare products formulated by my esthetician, Karee Hays; two, manicures with non-toxic polishes from the local green beauty purveyors, Poppy & Monroe; and three, Clary Balm from Clary Collection, an organic beauty company run by my friends Jen and Adriel, which I apply before slicking on a Tom Ford lipstick.
Describe your personal style in three words.
To the max.