What Are You Wearing?

Kym Ventola on Her Favorite Phoenix Boutiques, Loving Free People, and What She's Wearing

For Phoenix native and photographer Kym Ventola, it's all about balance. From managing her photography business to spending time with her family, Ventola aims to find an equilibrium. In fact, she's recently started a mentoring business where she helps other people find balance in their lives. 

"I think that's the Libra in me," Ventola says. 

This philosophy applies to her personal style as well. Ventola says she loves to mix both feminine and masculine pieces in her outfits. Even Ventola' s hair offsets girly elements, with bouncy, blonde curls on one side, and boyish style, with short, buzzed hair on the other side.  

But it seems effortless as Ventola sits on a gray couch in her living room. Surrounded by white walls and the occasional potted plant, she looks like she's just walked off the page of Cereal magazine. Maybe this ease of style comes from not paying attention to trends and wearing what she wants to wear, she says. 

We stopped by Ventola's north Phoenix home on a mid-June evening to sit down and talk to her about what it is she's wearing. 

What are you wearing right now?
I adore black, so I'm wearing a black jumpsuit. This I got at Buffalo Exchange. I'm also wearing patent leather lace-ups... The other outfit I wanted to wear was my floral Doc Martin combat boots. I wear those to weddings a lot and people are always like "Oh, you're such a badass but then you have the flowers in there, so I'm conflicted with who you are." 

Who are your fashion inspirations?
Can I call a friend? [Laughs.] This is crazy. I can't think of anybody. My mom and I have always talked about this. My mom is obsessed with checking the latest trends, and I don't know. I'm just, I am me, and I know this sounds really crazy, but it would probably have to be. . . I don't know. I don't know any trends, I don't watch what celebrities are wearing on the red carpets or runways. Just to be totally honest, I think I put my energy in other areas with my son or my husband or traveling. I guess I would say my biggest inspiration is traveling just to see what everyday people are wearing and just feel inspired by that. But it's definitely not on runways or magazines or anything like that.  

Where do you shop?
Anthropologie, Buffalo Exchange, MadewellFree People. But the thing is with Free People, I don't buy directly. I do eBay. I love using things like eBay because I like to buy investment pieces. So at Anthropologie, I might spend $200 on a dress, but once I'm done with it, and I've taken really good care of it, I eBay it, and I'm like, "All right, I have some money." And then I can look for some good finds on eBay. . .

I believe in quality. I used to go to Target a lot. For example, if I bought a couple pairs of jeans at Target, I feel like they would just start crumbling, or they'd stretch out in weird places. I was probably spending more money than if I'd invested in one or two good pairs at Anthropologie. So I started doing that, and I've had the same pair for four years, and they're still great.

What are your favorite local boutiques?
Cleo and Clementine because it's my dear friend's shop. And I have purchased quite a few pieces from them — skirts, she's made me a couple dresses. So I'd have to say Cleo and Clementine. And then Frances would be my other one because Georganne is a friend of mine, and she carries Free People. So, yes to that.  

What was the last item you bought?
I just bought some leggings. I'm going to Europe next week to shoot a wedding. We're going to Italy and France, so I bought leggings and a pair of Tom's walking shoes. They're super cute and airy. So I wanted those pieces to get me through to trip to be comfortable exploring and walking around. So they were pretty intentional. 

What are five things that every woman should have in her closet?
Definitely a black dress. I love a good, comfortable oversized sweater with leggings, of course. I love a good Bohemian-style dress like Free People. For me, that works really well. It can be everyday, or I can dress it up if I have a party to attend or something. So something very flowy. I'm just going to be real. For women, monthly when you just need a little space, an empire [waistline] so you can just breathe. One of my other favorite things — again, this is the whole masculine-feminine trying to balance in my style — I love a good button up. Like a men's shirt, but a women's button up fitted shirt with a great pair of jeans and boots or flats to feminize it. And I button it up to the very top. Oh, and then the jumpsuit! It's my favorite thing right now. I have five or six. And you better believe I'm bringing it to Europe. Do you know how easy that is? One thing to worry about.  

What is one trend or clothing item that you hate?
I've never ever, ever in my life enjoyed or been a fan of things that are bedazzled. So like when people have the stuff on the back of their jeans on the pocket, um, not a fan. It's probably not even a trend anymore, but I just can't get that out of my head.

What is your first memory of fashion?
This is the honest to God truth — Cyndi Lauper. It was absolutely her. It was her when I was watching Goonies. So Goonies is my all time favorite movie in the whole entire world, and I saw Cyndi Lauper performing in the movie and I freaked. Obviously she is such an individual, and she is so unique and doesn't give a shit what anybody thinks, and I love that about her because I desperately wanted that. So I remember that being my first memory of style. It's funny because I'm probably a lot like her in not worrying about trends and just wearing what feels right. My friend puts it really well. It's about dressing your truth. And that is really important to me. 

What's one piece of fashion advice for people in Phoenix?
I like just saying dressing your truth because, in the end, I get trends. I think it's really great to be inspired by them but not to be overwhelmed by them, and I feel like even with my mentoring, I hear that a lot. People feel overwhelmed and I think it ties into Instagram and Pinterest where people feel like they are comparing themselves. I'm not into that. I would just say dressing your truth and being real with yourself. And obviously you need to be comfortable because it's freaking hot here. 

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Evie Carpenter is a visual journalist. Using photography, videography, design, and sometimes words, she tells stories she hopes make a bit of difference in the world, even if those stories are in list form and include GIFs.
Contact: Evie Carpenter