Six years ago, Kathleen Barnes started an Orange County blog to showcase her unique high-low fashion. Today, carriebradshawlied.com boasts an Instagram following of 149,000 and growing. Charming and self-effacing, the 29-year-old former Miss Teen USA Mississippi gives readers tips on style and shopping, with photographs by her husband, Christian.
Where did the idea come from?
I started my blog as a way to stay connected with my girlfriends, whom I often dressed and styled in college (University of Mississippi). I realized life after college wasn’t as effortlessly fabulous and sprinkled with sparkle as Carrie Bradshaw led me to believe on “Sex and the City.”
How did she lie?
The image of a young woman living in a large city as a journalist, with her own apartment and Manolo Blahniks is a little unlikely, no? I was so ready to graduate college and start my first job, thinking I’d be shopping with my new paycheck and dining out with new girlfriends. I quickly learned I could shop or dine out, not both. And even if I chose to shop, it wasn’t for Manolos!
Has your style evolved?
If there’s anyone’s style I admire, it’s that character’s. I started with a few outfits like hers and found that while they’re fun, they’re not really relatable. You need to find balance between being creative—which is the reason I started this website in the first place—and being relatable, which is why I think people are reading my blog.
How has your blog changed since 2010?
My readers are between 25 and 35, so they’re growing with me. Five years ago we were shopping at Forever 21 and Old Navy because that’s what we could afford. But as we continue our careers, can afford nicer things, and our interests transition into family and home, it’s natural for our style to change. But I have to be mindful of it on the blog so it doesn’t seem like an abrupt turn.
What inspires you?
My Southern roots (hello, big hair and ruffles!) and the casual West Coast vibe. Maxi dresses, hats, sandals, crop tops. I think knowing what looks best on your body is crucial. Every trend isn’t for everyone! Know what works for you and own it. I hear from my readers who’ll say, “I love this, but I could never pull it off.” I find this irrelevant, because confidence is what pulls it off. It’s all about the attitude—and if you don’t
feel comfortable, don’t do it.
What are you coveting for fall?
I’ve had my eye out for a great bomber jacket—if it’s silk, all the better. I have a cashmere addiction, so I like to add a piece each fall, even if it’s just a turtleneck or scarf. I have little lists every year of one to three investment pieces I’d like to add. I want some leather pants, but I feel like I’d sweat too much in them. I have a faux leather biker jacket I got at TJ Maxx for $25. It looks awesome, but I think I should start saving for a nice leather biker jacket. I want something that fits well that I can wear for years.
What do you hope your followers take away from it?
That sprinkling style into your closet, home, travel, etc. is all about finding what gets you excited. When do you feel your most confident? What makes you feel good? There is no reason everyday life can’t have a little sparkle.