2015 Houston Stylemaker
Stylemaker Finalists

Who will be Houston's Top Stylemaker? Finalists spill style secrets, fashion staples and worst trends

Who will be Houston's Top Stylemaker? Finalists spill style secrets

Houston, Stylemaker finalists, October 2015, collage
CultureMap Stylemaker finalists each have a unique sense of style. Courtesy photo

So many stylish people in Houston. So little time.

We're down to the final eight in our first CultureMap Stylemaker Awards, in which we celebrate the most fashionable men and women in Houston. From the 16 semifinalists chosen for their unique style by a panel of judges, you decided who would make it to the final round.

Speaking of the finals, now you must vote again, this time to determine the Readers’ Choice winner. You can vote once a day, every day, until October 12 at 11:59 pm.

Then, on October 14, we celebrate all eight finalists — who will put their styling skills on display — as well as the eight semifinalists, at the big reveal party at Tootsies. Naturally you want to reserve your spot for that.

We looked to our final eight Stylemakers for fashion advice in order to help you get to know a little more about them, their secrets to being stylish, and trends that should be buried for good. Here’s what they had to say:

Carrie Brandsberg-Dahl
Household CEO

Go-to fashion staple: A great pair of leather leggings.

The secret to being stylish: Don’t be afraid, style is a reflection of one's individual taste and personality. People with similar styles are attracted to each other for a reason, usually they have a lot in common.

Trend I wish would go away: Besides people who wear their trousers down to their knees (ie. sagging pants), pajamas at the airport is a trend I wish would go away... It’s not hard to dress decently when you travel, and please pull your trousers up!


Karina Barbieri
Glamorous mom/philanthropist

Go-to fashion staple: High heels.

The secret to being stylish: I think about my entire look from head to toe. The key is in the small details: Maintaining your hair styled, your hands and your feet manicured, keeping your skin moisturized, a soft makeup look and good accessories to adorn the outfit are essential. You can have a spectacular dress and stunning shoes on but if everything else is not taken care of you won't look good.

Trend I wish would go away: Ripped jeans.


Maryam Afshari
Owner, Baanou Boutique

Go-to fashion staple: The classic little black dress... always chic, always in style. 

The secret to being stylish: I have a few secrets  — No. 1: Confidence, it makes all the difference!  No. 2:  Timeless classic styles always look good! 

The trend I wish would go away: The one trend that I cannot support is wearing mid-calf socks under open-toed shoes. I don't know where it came from, it doesn't look good in my opinion. 


Valerie Dittner
Creative partner at Cheeky Vintage

Go-to fashion staple: A sailor striped shirt with a vintage jacket thrown over my shoulders.

The secret to being stylish: I think the secret to being stylish is taking risks while knowing what suits your body. When you wear the right silhouette, you are free to experiment with color, pattern, texture and trends.

The trend I wish would go away: I’m not sure what trend I wish would go away, but my favorite trend right now is the colorful fur trend. Worn as a bag charm or as a bright fur collar, colored fur is bringing a youthful punch to our wardrobes this fall.


Staci Henderson

Go-to fashion staple: Great shoes. The higher and edgier the better. Regardless of weight fluctuations or bad hair days, you can always count on some "foot art" to pull you through.

The secret to being stylish: Be fearless. I love mixing high and low price points, love vintage, know my body and what works on me, and dress solely for myself. I'm past the age of looking to anyone for approval. If I can express myself, as myself every day I'm a happy girl.

The trend I'd wish would go away: The bare midriff. I don't care how amazing your abs are it just seems tacky. Save it for the beach. Nobody wants to see someone at a cocktail party with their whole stomach hanging out. No thank you.


Bryce Kennard 
Comcast communications director

Go-to fashion staple: My navy blazer. It will take you from work or to dinner in the same day and is great for traveling. It goes with slacks, jeans and even my cowboy boots.

The secret to being stylish: I think everyone has the ability to be stylish. The secret is studying yourself and taking the time to invest and commit to being your most stylish self.

The trend I'd wish would go away: Trends can be fun, but I wish skinny jeans would be locked away somewhere. Season after season they keep tormenting me. 


Holly Alvis
Program manager at Robert and Janice McNair Foundation

Go-to fashion staple: Rag & Bone skinny jeans and a pair of aviator styled sunglasses from Barton Perreira.

The secret to being stylish: Having a trusted second opinion!

The trend I'd wish would go away: Medium to large polka dot patterns.


Alex Martinez
Bon Vivant

Go-to fashion staple: Excellent accessories and jewelry.

The secret to being stylish: You wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you. The best looks are those which look harmonious, surprising, but accidental. If your look is perfect "in fashion," it looks like you are thinking too much about the wrong things and are just a follower of the latest trend.

The trend I wish would go away: Mezcal.