Katharine Quarterman lives in the interior of Alaska, staying stylish despite the less-than-tropical weather. She’s big on thrift shopping and has a passion for jewelry along with industry experience. For this installment of the Sparkling Across America series, we venture out of the Continental U.S. and up to Alaska, where we chatted with Katie, the Alaskan Weredork, about Alaskan style and how to look cool while staying warm. Scroll down for a very interesting read!
Tell us a bit about yourself, How did you get into blogging?
I’m a born and bred Alaskan, I’m a riding instructor by trade and a very, very amateur silversmith in my spare time. I started blogging as something fun to do during the winter and as a way to get more comfortable with having pictures taken of myself. Up until I started blogging, there were maybe five pictures taken of me in as many years; I was terribly uncomfortable with the camera! Blogging has been a really fun thing to do in my spare time and it’s opened up the world of photography to me, which I’ve really come to love. Taking pictures of my outfits has also helped me break away from dressing like a college student and to find my own style, not to mention it’s been a learning process of what actually works on my body.
Describe your style in three words
That’s a hard one! I would like to say western, stream-line Bohemian but I’m not quite sure that’s a thing. I have a lot of western and equestrian influences in my clothing and I love the ease of the Bohemian style so I’ve been trying to work it all into a cohesive look.
What is your favorite thing about living in Alaska?
There’s a lot to love about Alaska; the scenery is amazing and always changing, the people are usually a mix of crazy, independent, kind and chill, and while the weather can have its challenges, it’s hard not to feel inspired when you’re looking out at a frozen forest or out fishing in the ocean. I think we’re very lucky to be able to experience so much here and that everyone is given the freedom to have that experience.
You probably get this question a lot, but is it hard to dress stylish while dealing with the Alaskan weather?
It’s pretty easy in the summer although the state is so large that the weather really varies from region to region, but winter definitely makes it a little difficult. Living in the lower regions of the state and having a milder winter temperature wise made it easier to dress cute but it’s more of a challenge farther north. We have to deal with temps between -40 to -75 below zero in the winter so most of us will wear a cute outfit, and then three coats, snow pants and bunny boots. (Even if you’re just driving to work, most of us pack all of this gear because if you break down in that kind of cold, not having the right gear will get you killed.) I actually like wearing maxi skirts in the winter up here. Fairbanks doesn’t get much snow and no slush, so I can wear my snow pants and jeans under the maxi and it traps all of the warm air in between the layers. Having a warm coat is a must and Boggs makes some really cute snow boots that are perfect for the cold. Really I think taking pictures is the harder part, having to set up the tripod and then strip down the layers is awful in the cold!
Alaska tends to be way behind the trends although I’ve noticed with style blogs and the internet we’ve started catching up. (Now we’re usually only a year or two behind the trends rather than the twenty before!) I think wearing Xtratufs with cute summer dress is a very Alaskan thing, I see quite a few girls rocking that look during the fall and springtime. I know it’s slowing down in the states but colorful pants are starting to really catch on up here. I’ve seen seven girls today with red, blue and pink pants and they all were adorable. Danskos also really seem to be a thing up here; almost every girl has a pair of them and the local stores can hardly keep them in stock.
What is your favorite piece of jewelry you own?
I really love jewelry and I have a decent collection but I’d have to say my two favorite pieces are the first items I ever got. One is a little silver and amethyst ring that my dad got for me in Mexico when I was 13 and the other is a silver and turquoise ring he got for me a few years later. Those were really rough times for my family and the two rings really mean the world to me.
What is one upcoming fall trend you see becoming popular?
I am really bad about being on top of trends. I usually don’t notice them until they’ve been around for a while! I have noticed that full skirts seem to be becoming popular; they’re so easy to wear and flatter most builds that I think we’ll see a lot of them this fall and winter.
You mentioned your love for thrift stores. What’s your best thrift store score?
I’ve been lucky enough to find some really amazing things at thrift stores, items I normally would never be able to afford. Last winter I found a beautiful rust Dolce and Gabbana dress that I need to alter, but my favorite item would have to be my Salvatore Ferragamo panther bag. I just found it and I love it so much. I love animal-themed bags and this one is a stunner. One of my other favorite thrifted items is not an expensive bag, but it has a beautiful elephant pattern and reminds me so strongly of my godmother who loved elephants that I get a sense of joy and happiness thinking of her when I wear it.
You use to work in jewelry sales. What is your favorite aspect of the jewelry industry?
I’m fascinated by gemstones and the process it took to create them and goldsmithing just amazes me, but my favorite aspect has always been the emotion involved when people buy jewelry. Jewelry tends to be a really special sort of purchase and the interactions I had with customers has left me with some incredible memories. One of the most touching and heartbreaking stories happened a few days after a horrible tragedy in our town in which a family tipped over in the river. The father and three of the daughters survived but the mother and baby drowned. It was a huge tragedy for our community and a few days afterwards, the grandmother brought the three girls into our store to pick out something as a memorial to their mother and sibling. It really struck me to talk to these girls because I’d been in a very similar accident as a child where my brother and i almost drown in a boating accident and only survived as a stroke of luck so to be able to talk to these girls and understand what they were going through (yet not quite), it was just very heartbreaking and touching. We all cried a lot and in the end, I found a little mother and child cameo for each of the girls. Last time I talked to them they all still had those necklaces and wore them every day. I think it’s the experiences like that, the human bonding and the emotions that jewelry can represent, that really sets the jewelry industry apart from the general retail industry.
What is the most important thing to you when looking for jewelry?
There’s a lot that I look for in an item of jewelry, I like to look for quality and I’m fascinated by gemstones and the skill it takes to cut them so I like unusual pieces. Sourcing is also really important to me. One of my friends’ father survived the diamond mine; his story is horrible and heartbreaking so I look for diamonds that are source verified rather than contribute to such a source of human suffering.
What is currently your favorite item from EvesAddiction.com?
I love this Elephants on Parade bracelet! As I mentioned, anything with elephants always reminds me of my godmother and I love Bali silver work. I also think this vintage style Bali cuff is really gorgeous as well and it’s at an excellent price point for a Bali bracelet!
If you haven’t already, make sure you check out Katie’s blog, the Alaskan Weredork!