When Kelly Framel started the style blog The Glamourai in the fall of 2008, she only intended for her closest friends to know about it. Working as an assistant designer for the luxury label Naeem Khan, she considered her anonymous blog something she did on the side for fun. So when another blogger linked to The Glamourai and used Framel’s real name, she didn’t see the good that could come of it. “I was in tears the whole day!” she recalls. “I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone in fashion to find out about it. I thought I would never be taken seriously again.”
Framel, of course, can dry her eyes now. The 27-year-old Austin native, who moved to New York in 2005 after graduating in apparel design from the University of Texas, has turned The Glamourai into a full-time job, working nonstop to keep up with all the offers that come her way as a member of the fashion-blogger elite. She has designed a purse for Coach (which sold out in a few short days), modeled in an ad campaign for Forever 21, styled the windows at Dolce&Gabbana during Milan Fashion Week, and recently had the “surreal” experience of seeing her face atop a taxi advertising Glamour’s new Young and Posh Blogger Network, which she regularly contributes to. In addition to having an innate sense of style, the fact that she also happens to be extremely photogenic—with long limbs, huge blue eyes, and a teensy waist—doesn’t hurt, either.
When she meets us in Greenpoint to do a little spring shopping, she confides that she’s “really panicked” about what to wear to her first major television appearance, on the interior-design program The Nate Berkus Show, an Oprah spin-off. Entering the affordable boutique Alter (140 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, 718-349-0203), she quickly spies a beige dress by C. Luce with a big bow at the shoulder for $85. “I’m a sucker for anything with a bow,” she says. Before trying it on, she stops to pet her big-eared papillon, Bunny, who squirms with delight in the arms of Savannah White, her personal assistant. White helps with Framel’s jewelry line (sold on The Glamourai), schedules appointments, and opens fan mail for both Framel and Bunny. “That’s a real fan club when they start sending your dog gifts,” White says.
Though the dress is a perfect fit, she wants to keep looking and teeters outside in her four-inch L.A.M.B. wedges. A dapper-looking man in a suit brazenly approaches her and asks her on a date to see the Broadway play Good People that night. “Frances McDormand is in it,” he says, trying to sell her on the idea. But she politely declines.
Framel and White giggle over the proposition as they head down the block to In God We Trust (70 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-389-3545), which stocks its own vintage-inspired line as well as clothing by indie designers. Taking a couple pieces into the dressing room, she first steps out in a billowy, cropped blouse designed by the store for $220. Bunny wags her tail with approval. “I love the whole cropped shirt thing from last spring,” she says. “I love how it’s oversized, but you can still show your shape a bit, so you get the best of both worlds.” She pops back into the dressing room and reappears wearing a jaunty dress with front pockets and flutter sleeves by local designer Dona Monroe for $380. “I love the pockets on this!” she squeals. “I love this sort of 1940s thing for spring.”
Not ready to commit to a dress just yet, however, Framel and her entourage drive down to Williamsburg. Framel, who sewed all her own clothes in high school, says she attributes her creativity and thriftiness in part to her mother, who would take her to Goodwill as a child, give her $20, and challenge her to come up with a unique outfit. Still a bargain hunter, she says she’s a regular at the used-clothing warehouse Beacon’s Closet (88 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, 718-486-0816).
Bounding from the car on a skull-and-crossbones leash, Bunny leads the charge to Sir (129 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-384-0700), which carries a mix of vintage and its own line. Admiring a rack of see-through gowns in lace and organza, Framel admits she’s going to have trouble with the spring trend for sheer skirts. Her anxiety stems from the time she wore a nude bodysuit under a sheer dress. “I was getting the most uncomfortable stares,” she says later. “People literally thought I was naked under it. I’ve never had a more mortifying day.”
Still empty-handed, she cuts across the street to Jumelle (148 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-388-9525), a favorite of hers for its selection of “beautiful, well-made clothes” that “feel like something you’ve had in your closet forever.” Pulling out a floral Cacharel skirt for $425, she holds it up to her waist. “A big, full-circle skirt with a tiny waist is flattering on absolutely everybody,” she says. “And the bigger the skirt, the smaller your waist looks by comparison—so it’s a neat little trick. I think I’ll have to wear a big skirt, so it will make me look my best on camera.”
White shakes her head at her boss’s concern that the camera will add unwanted pounds: “She’s, like, literally tiny.”
“But it’s a whole other thing to be on TV!” Framel counters.
She puts the skirt back and, after trying on a khaki Steven Alan blazer for $385 that she adds to her “maybe” list, moves on to the jewelry shop Catbird (219 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-599-3457). She slips a delicate ring by Lauren Wolf on her finger and admires it. “I’ve been wearing big jewelry for so many years, but now I just want simple things,” she says.
That is, until the shopkeeper brings up a box from the basement containing the shop’s latest acquisition: perhaps the biggest, gaudiest necklaces Framel has ever seen, made of colorful ribbons, agate, and glass from Turkmenistan. She throws two around her neck. “These are so Iris Apfel!” she says, referring to the eccentric octogenarian and Framel’s “ultimate fashion idol.”
“Can I get this one?”
“Of course!” the shopkeeper says.
“Do you need me to take it off?” she asks.
“No, not at all.”
“Sold!” Framel says and hands over her credit card. “So much for my simplistic urges,” she laughs. “I gave that up