A.K., short for Anna Kate, is Suzanne's right hand gal! She keeps the wheels turning on the Academy blog when not busy with her chef babe J, new-ish baby Leo, and cooking for friends at Side Hustle Supper Club. She doesn't consider herself half as fashionable as Suzanne but nonetheless she's learned a few things in her stint at the Academy. Below she answers the Dean's burning questions about life, love, and style...
Q: What is your personal style for parties? at home, on your body?
A: I grew up with three brothers and now live with my partner and baby boy, so I feel like I'm always surrounded by dudes! I suppose that's why my personal style tends to be a little tomboy-ish, at least in the sense that it's practical and action-ready for everyday. But perhaps it also explains why I like to contrast that for a special dinner or other festive occasion, opting for flow-y, silky dresses and a few special pieces of jewelry and a spritz of nice (not too sweet) perfume. Regardless, I like to feel comfortable and free to move, in case a dance party breaks out at a moment's notice.
At home, I collect, in a decidedly non-minimalist way. I am tidy and organized but definitely love books, baubles, and the right tool for any job under the sun. I have a need for order, but I am learning to let go when company comes over. I used to follow a rule that no one must clean or do dishes after a big meal. Now I permit close friends to entertain Baby Leo while I put on a record and load the dishwasher. ; )
Has your (personal and house) style changed since you were single, married, now as a mom?
Honestly, probably not as much as you'd expect, although I do care less than ever what anyone else thinks of my outfit. I'm actually working on finding a middle ground there, as my mom keeps reminding me that a little effort to spruce yourself up goes a long way! Pregnancy threw me for a bit of a loop, naturally, limiting my range of wardrobe and isolating a few favorite items. I tried to retire some of that stuff postpartum but it's hard to let go of faves like my super sexy silk drop crotch cargo pants.
How do you accessorize for parties? Versus what you wear at home? Or when you go out to your guy's restaurant?
I like bright, fun jewelry, high and low for sure! I always wear the emerald necklace my sweetheart gave me a few birthdays ago, and the gorgeous tanzanite ring he proposed with this past Spring. Then I like to add big colorful bangles or rings, even costume jewelry. I love one I found that is probably a knock-off of Delfina Delettrez (sorry to say) and looks like a crystal hand with shiny red nails wrapped around your finger! It's so ridiculous. I love fun earrings, disco hoops or Hart tassels, too but lately I've had to take a break, knowing Leo would probably yank them out of my head.
Any go to necklaces, earrings, shoes, your mother's or grandmother's pieces?
In my family, the best hand-me-downs come from the kitchen. I have my great-grandmother's handmade wooden bowl, perfect for the giant salad that must accompany all of our family's rather heavy Southern dishes. I love my Granny's niche glassware, including an egg dish that looks like a chicken. My mom just passed down a bundt pan I can't wait to bake a good old-fashioned pound cake in. And of course, there's the skillet collection, each of which have been well-seasoned by our matriarchal cornbread recipe.
Favorite source of inspiration? A person? A place? In Charleston?
I've just moved from a beloved third floor apartment in an over 200-year-old house on the Peninsula, to the house & land we bought out on James Island in advance of baby arrival. It's a whole different lifestyle, but I'm inspired by this new 'burb-y situ. and want to homestead on a small scale. We already have a little vegetable patch, some flowers, some herbs -- with plans to grow more, get some chickens, install a ceramic oven outdoors. I dream of being a kind of domestic goddess like Julia, Martha, Ina, Suzanne : ), Meryl Streep in It's Complicated! It may sound provincial but I just want to cook and garden and be a mama for now...
Favorite hostess gifts for parties, as a house guest? What do you like to receive, besides baby boy clothes?
I've suddenly become very forgetful about gifts, both giving and properly receiving them with a thank you card to follow. (Blaming this on Baby Brain!) Historically, I like to bring a fridge-able roll of chocolate chip cookie dough and ice cream to a dinner party. There is nothing more delightful than cookies fresh out of the oven and just-melting frozen cream. Even if it's too much for the moment, still delicious later on. I find nice wine, pretty flowers, one or two good records are always welcome. Once a guest brought fresh flower crowns for all of the guests and that made for a magical night, indeed.