Stella Wingfield Cook and Donna Orr, stylists and the owners of Dear Hearts boutique, take a laid-back approach to fashion.
The longtime friends, who opened Dear Hearts in 2013 in a renovated 1966 Shasta camper but now operate from a storefront in Durham, are the go-to stylists for many local musicians who exude a naturally cool, relaxed sense of style. They’ve styled rock bands Sylvan Esso and Hiss Golden Messenger, as well as folk musician Alice Gerrard, for media photos, album covers, video shoots and TV appearances.
Their specialty is integrating new styles and brands with “clean and classic vintage,” and creating looks that appeal to the average style-conscious shopper.
“I don’t think fashion should be intimidating,” Orr said. “You can be inspired by other peoples’ style, but it boils down to what makes you feel good and confident.”
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Cook added: “Not in a lazy way, but I dress for comfort. ... It’s about knowing what’s for you.”
Comfort and confidence are themes that carry over into their Spring Wish List, a selection of attainable items that look great together as a complete outfit or that easily pair with other wardrobe favorites.
Grateful Dead Limited Edition art tee
Orr and Cook love Los Angeles artist Jess Rotter and her collaboration with Light in the Attic records for this limited edition Grateful Dead T-shirt – because her tees are limited edition, they have a more special feel. “Her stuff sells quickly and it’s specialized, so you feel that her hand is in every part of this,” Orr said. This tee looks cool with patterned skirts and with any kind of denim. It comes in white and black, but they felt the white tee had a lighter feel for spring. nando.com/10r, $39.99.
Floral A-line paneled skirt
The shape of an A-line floral skirt is a winner, no matter what length you choose. The Wren swing midi-skirt is longer (and more expensive), but the Zara mini version creates the same aesthetic – especially when paired with a T-shirt, like an art tee. “You could also wear this with a denim chambray shirt buttoned up to the top and tied at the waist or tucked in, or with a plain gray sweatshirt,” Cook said. “It’s very girlie, so chill it out with something casual or masculine.” Wren midi: nando.com/10i, $198; Zara mini: nando.com/10j, $19.90.
White athletic shoes
There’s almost nothing you can’t wear with a fashionable pair of sneakers these days, and Cook and Orr have a closet full of them. “A pair of sneakers makes your outfit not too precious,” Orr said. For spring, go white. “White is crisp and neat.” For adventurous types, they like the Adidas Originals Superstar Up sneaker, a revamped classic high-top with a hidden wedge heel. But for half the price, you can’t go wrong with a good pair of Vans. “The shape is cut lower and meant to look like a sneaker from the ’50s,” Cook said. “Vans are more forgiving and look cute with both skinny jeans and a boyfriend cut. Adidas are more of a skinny jean shoe.” Adidas: adidas.com/us, $90; Vans: vans.com, $45.
Black leather biker jacket
Leather for spring? “Leather for all the time!” Cook said. “Even on a hot summer night, I always bring a jacket with me, and I feel like a light leather jacket is essential. It makes your outfit look a little nicer. Makes you look polished and cool. We wear leather year round.” Orr agrees. “It has this weird universal ability to pump up an outfit or kind of chill it out.” And the moto style biker jacket never really goes out of style. Your biggest decision here will be whether to splurge for the real thing, which will run several hundred dollars, or get the budget- and animal-friendly vegan version. Reformation’s Trident in leather: nando.com/10k, $458; Mango’s Zipped Biker in faux leather: nando.com/10l, $99.
Dark shades with thick frames are a must for spring, and the Dear Hearts duo says large frames look good on “a multitude of face shapes.” There’s also the comfort factor. “There’s something about the ease of putting on a giant pair of dark glasses,” Cook said. “It instantly ups your whole vibe. There’s something very safe about them because they are so big and cool looking. Like a security blanket for your face.” There are great options at all prices. Two standouts for Cook and Orr are the Celine Marta shades (nando.com/10m, $350) and the A.OK Conor shades (nando.com/10n, $42).
Finally, remember to take good care of something you wear all the time: your face. Orr and Cook are both big proponents of face oils, especially coming out of winter. “Everyone’s skin is so dry and dull in winter, so the oil is a good way to work your way back into spring and have softer skin,” Orr said. “It’s been an essential product for us for a long time.” They recommend incorporating a face oil between cleansing and moisturizing. A good splurge is Rodin’s Luxury Face Oil (nando.com/10o, $170), while the Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is a great all-around choice (nando.com/10q, $40).
618 Foster St., Durham
Style philosophy: Mixing classic pieces with trends that work on each body type for a confident look that showcases the wearer’s personality.