Accessories and high heels are impractical choices for a day in the life of Casey Hagarty.
The 27-year-old Phoenix Art Museum curatorial assistant usually sports a monochromatic uniform of black skinny jeans, boots, nice tee shirts and clean blazers. Which is great, the Phoenix native says, since she needs to be prepared for everything from seeing someone important to lifting a mannequin across a museum into a gallery.
Hagarty has had various roles in fashion around town. After interning and volunteering at the museum, she's most excited about the cultural growth she's now a part of.
"I really appreciate academia and fashion and the combination of those two things," Hagarty says. "I've always looked at fashion in an intellectual way, and this is the perfect place to do it."
Her true draw to the Phoenix Art Museum was its fashion curator and her mentor, Dennita Sewell. Hagarty says that Sewell is doing an excellent job of representing the community and keeping the museum's collection at the caliber of other museums around the world.
"Phoenix is a hard place to sustain yourself in fashion, but she's very committed to educating the community on real high-end, significant fashion."
While Hagarty's world is built around fashion, she says she's never thought of herself as a "fashion girl." "I love the industry and I love designers, but I don't think I'm particularly amazingly dressed all the time. I just like what I like."
When asked how she would describe her style, Hagarty references a time she once interviewed Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen while promoting their line The Row at Barney's.
"They both said that their style was ever-changing, and that's how I feel," she says. "There was a time when all I wore was vintage and color and piled on accessories, but now I'm really into the effortless look of French women. My style is eclectic, ever-changing, and mood driven."
Like any fashion-thinking individual, Hagarty's eyes are to the big-city possibilities of the future. For now, she is excited to grow within the museum.
"I want people to say, 'Wow, I can't believe they have that here.' It's amazing how much effort we still have to make in educating the community that we do have such a large fashion collection. We have shows twice a year. We have tons of programs! I hope people come in on their own accord on a Wednesday night or a First Friday, and then find a program they like and come back."
One such event is happening on Wednesday, March 26. The "Hollywood Costume" exhibition will display over 100 costumes from the last 100 years of film, including Marilyn Monroe's 7 Year Itch dress, as well as costumes from Harry Potter, Superman, and Titanic. In conjunction with that, the museum is opening "Hollywood Red Carpet," featuring a selection of dresses that best actresses and best supporting actresses have worn to the Oscars. For some interactive fun, there's also a Hollywood Costume Party on Saturday, April 12.
"This exhibit originated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London," Hagarty says, "So these events are definitely a rare and awesome opportunity for our community."
What's great about Phoenix, Hagarty says, is the accessibility. "People are accessible, opportunity is accessible, and if you want to get involved in something, you can do it."
Hagarty is making the very most of her Phoenix experience. "When you do the job you love to do, your friends are here, it's sunshine and 80 degrees outside for most of the year," she says, "What more can you ask for?"
What are you wearing? I'm wearing a vintage men's belt, a vintage vest I found at a local store, some imitation Isabel Marant jeans from Zara, boots, and a Vince T.
What was the last item of clothing you bought? A vintage Diane von Furstenberg top I bought at GROWop
Where do you usually shop? I'm really interested in high fashion but do not have the means to purchase, so I look for things basic enough that you just don't know if it's designer or if I got it from Last Chance. I try to emulate high-end French fashion, so I'm big into Zara, vintage stores, GROWop, Mercantile, Meat Market Vintage, and Retro Ranch. I love to also dive into a Goodwill or the Neiman Marcus outlet. I'm all about a bargain.
Name five items every woman should have in her closet. 1) A fantastic pair of denim that looks great on your body 2) A really chic leather skirt or jacket 3) A great pair of stiletto pumps 4) A great pair of boots 5) Something that transcends time, like a great dress that you feel wonderful in
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What's one fashion trend you can't stand? I'm really over the fishtail dresses and skirts. I think it's a hard thing. I liked it for a minute on the right person, but I think now we're done.
Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. I was really obsessed with matching. If I had a red top on, my shoes had to be red. I had weird balance issues with matching. I would also make up days at school like crazy hair day when it wasn't actually crazy hair day, and I'd wear my hair crazy to school.
What is your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix? Make an effort. I know we're not a fashion capital, and it's not L.A. or New York, but it makes me feel good everyday. People pay attention, so why not? Look in the mirror, think about what you look like. While everything is about convenience here, you should dress for yourself and feel good.