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The ball is rolling with the Renowned Women of Chicago! Thank you again to all of you who continue to follow this series, as I present yet another lovely lady with great fashion-sense and style! I’m really having fun learning about all of these ladies, including things that I didn’t know about them. So fun! I consider all of them personal friends, and I admire every single one of them in how they have the confidence to be a trendsetter in their chosen profession.

Today I am featuring Jess Keys of The Golden Girl Blog, and who is also the fashion editor of The Everygirl.  I met Jess and her super nice boyfriend Neal at the launch of the incredible 52Eighty Rooftop Lounge here in Chicago. We ended up talking about quite an array of things, including the humble beginnings of her blog. Can you believe that she was actually shy when it came to telling people about her blog? Ha! Jess is a really wonderful person, and it’s an honor to have her on the blog today. Continue on below to learn more about her!

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The Epicurean: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed Jess!  Can you tell the readers who you are? Where you are from? What you do for a living? 

Jess: Thanks so much for having me, Mark! I’m the Founder & Editor of The Golden Girl, a life & style blog based in Chicago. I was born in Portland, OR and then my family moved to Scottsdale when I was 11, so I basically grew up in both places. I recently just made a job switch I’m really excited about! I was previously in Advertising, working for Ogilvy & Mather, and now I just made the jump to the Brand Manager for Dean Street Society. I couldn’t be more giddy about it.

The Epicurean: Oh great! That’s fantastic! Dean Street Society is pretty fantastic for women. Your blog, The Golden Girl Blog, is pretty awesome! How long have you been doing your blog for, and how did it all start for you? 

Jess:  Thank you! You’re too kind ;-) I started my blog in 2012, but it was very slow. I didn’t really tell many people about it, and was a little embarrassed that my friends would think it was stupid. I didn’t start really dedicating myself to it until I finally revealed to my boyfriend at the time that it was a really big dream of mine to make something of my blog. He pushed me to go for it, and that’s what really jump-started everything. We did my first outfit shoot last September, so although it’s technically been around for longer, that’s what I’m considering my “one year” anniversary!

I originally started my blog because I woke up one day when I was 24 and realized that I wanted more out of life. My main hobby at the time pretty much included going out with my friends to bars until 4am and very little else (standard early twenties stuff, you know). My blog gave me something to really work toward, endless ways to be creative, and really developed into my long-term dream.

The Epicurean:  Some people go out til 4am and get hammered, and some create one of the best women’s fashion blogs around! You’re also the fashion editor of The Everygirl as well. I think that is so cool! How did that come about? 

Jess:  It IS so cool! I can’t believe I got so lucky! I just applied online actually. How often do you hear about stories like that working out? Crazy enough, Alaina & Danielle had really been running the site pretty much on their own until they hired us (their first Editorial team) in February. They are a pair of wonder women, I’ve learned so much working for them, and I’m so lucky to be apart of such a talented, creative group.

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Photo courtesy of Katie Kett Photography

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The Epicurean: How did you get into fashion and style? Do you remember a time when you really got into it? 

Jess: I was always interested in fashion ever since I was a kid. I even went through a phase where I sewed some of my own clothes in middle school. I can’t really put a finger on it, per se. However, my fashion has gone through some interesting stages. I always loved it, but I wasn’t always good at it.

The Epicurean: Do you think growing up in Scottsdale, AZ had any influence on your current style?

Jess: It did. In Arizona, everyone in high school was dressed in Hollister, Abercrombie, and Juicy Jumpsuits. I then went to college in Indiana and everyone looked at me like I was a freak of nature wearing that stuff! Haha my wardrobe took a horrible turn for the worse in college (as everyone’s does, really). After I graduated, I gradually started to find myself and develop a style that is really my own. I think that happened when I stopped caring what other people thought, and using style as a way to express myself.

The Epicurean: Isn’t it amazing how things come together with a little confidence with fashion? Ha! What’s your approach with fashion and style when it comes to work? Do you find there is a lot of others who are into fashion and style at work? 

Jess: Luckily, I work from home now! I’m actually wearing workout clothes and tennis shoes as we speak! In my old job, it was very casual, so I could wear pretty much whatever I wanted. (I could have gotten away with sweats if I wanted to.) But I think it’s really important to dress up in something you feel confident in every day. For example, usually when I had a big meeting (even though it was probably a presentation over the phone), I would still dress up and wear red lipstick. It made me more confident!

The Epicurean:  Confidence is everything! Who are some of your favorite and go-to designers?

Jess: Admittedly, Im a Nordstrom Rack rat. I don’t have endless funds, so I have to be really choosy about what I buy whether or not it’s a splurge or on discount. My go-to’s are usually Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade, Milly, and then of course Zara and Asos.

The Epicurean: I think people like us who are so into fashion, enjoy Nordstrom Rack! Who do you look to for inspiration when it comes to other fashion bloggers out there?

Jess: Wow! That’s a tough question. There are so many inspiring girls (and guys!) out there. If I’m really stuck on what to wear, I usually go to Blaire at Atlantic-Pacific or Leandra at Man Repeller to spark some creativity. I also have developed some amazing friendships through the Chicago blogging community (too many to list!) and my local ladies are a constant source of inspiration and support.

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Photo courtesy of Danielle Moss

The Epicurean:  Yep!  You are lucky as a woman in Chicago to have so many local ladies like Blair, Maya, Cait, etc. for inspiration! Finally, what advice do you have for men when it comes to fashion and style? Especially those who want to improve their look and be more fashionable?

Jess: The biggest one is to get your clothes tailored! There are so many attractive men out there in ill-fitting suits! The right fit can make such a huge difference. It’s hard to be respected by others, especially peers in the workplace (or your girlfriend’s dad!) if you dress in sloppy clothes. On that note, there is nothing worse than a guy who ruins his nice button-down by wearing a white crewneck undershirt underneath it!

I would say if you are a man seeking some help in the fashion department, a great resource is Trunk Club! They basically do all of your shopping for you and ship it to your door. What is easier than that?

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Thanks Jess for being so accommodating with your busy schedule to take the time and do this interview for us! To learn more about Jess and her great sense of style and fashion, head on over to The Golden Girl Blog and The Everygirl.  Thanks again Jess!

The Windy City Epicurean