“My love for fashion came from my dad. He was the epitome of fashion and always suited up, whether it was his Vietnam veteran uniform or a business suit for work or church. I mean, the fedora, the suit, the tie-clip, the pocket square, shined shoes, that’s what I wanted my husband to look like: nice,” says Brown.
Brown’s fashion expertise only grew through her ardent attention to award shows like the Oscar’s and Grammy’s. “I love to see who’s wearing what and how it looks, how it’s put together from head to toe. I’m just enthralled by it,” Brown says. When she thinks of class, she thinks Jackie O., Diana Carroll and the women of “Dynasty.” “They are style icons.”
In time after her graduation from Xavier in 1995 after earning her B.S. in business administration and marketing, Brown became an informal fashion consultant for her friends, who still come to her religiously— sometimes twice in a week—to tap her wisdom on what to wear to a specific event.
One of Brown’s favorite success stories revolves around a close friend’s 20th high school reunion. Brown considered the event, her friend’s skin tone and size, suggested a complementing brown dress, brown sandals and hoop earrings, along with suggestions on makeup and hairstyle. “She just looked so nice. She came over to my house the day after the reunion and said, ‘I was the belle of the ball,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes!’ I was so happy for her because she was so happy.”
In issues of style, Brown advocates thriftiness. “You don’t have to spend money. Believe you me, I am the queen of taking something that is a little pricy and mixing it with something that’s very inexpensive,” she says. A Gap Outlet regular, Brown is all about spending money sparingly. “You can have $30 or $40 and come away with a belt, a pair of shoes, jeans, a shirt, slippers, sunglasses,” she says. “It’s all stuff that’s in a regular store, but it might have a flaw that no one would notice anyway. Mix that with something from Macy’s or Banana Republic, and you’re creating a total look. It’s a beautiful thing.”
She was able to splurge on her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Paris, proud that she could buy clothes, although a little pricey, off the rack in France.
“I had bought this red ball gown, not with anything in mind, but just as a ‘I’m going to use this one day’ piece. It was the Urban League Gala, and I wore that gown, and people still mention it. That’s a hit, when, eight years later, somebody is still talking about what you had on. It’s about leaving a lasting impression and feeling good and comfortable in your own skin.”
Clothes and fashion, while fun and exciting in their own right, are far from the only thing Brown offers. Her expert sense of fashion only complements her person. She truly does have an aura about her that mixes harmony with poise. “Not that I’d want to do this for a living, but I like it as what I would call a ‘side hustle,’” she says, laughing.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the material, Brown still has a strong head on her shoulders about what’s really important. “Fashion has an exterior focus, but, as I’m working with people, it’s interior as well. Clothes and jewelry are just outside adornments to what’s already there. The clothes don’t make the person, the person makes the clothes,” she says.