If you've ever sat in one of the sunny window booths at Hope and Union, you have likely rested your back on a Proud Mary pillow. Harper Poe sources handmade textiles from indigenous cultures in South and Central America and Africa to produce pillows, bags, and, come April, scarves for her company, so we were excited to see what kinds of bright patterns her closet would hold. Besides, anyone who uses the words "yummy" and "saucy" to describe fabric deserves a spot in our Style Issue.
This and that. "I just like to mix it," Poe says of her personal style. "Not too hard, not too soft. Not too girly, not too boy, a little tomboy. I travel a lot for Proud Mary and I collect a lot of textiles, so I like to put in jewelry and some ethnic prints." A bouquet of Proud Mary bags hangs from a hook on her bedroom door; Poe surmises that she carries one almost all the time. "I'm still really into the whole Southwest vibe," she adds. "I would have thousands of succulents in my house if I could, so I feel like that kind of inspires the way that I dress."
She's got the blues. Shorts, jeans, shirts, skirts — Poe just gushes over her love for denim. For her closet peek, she wore a denim skirt, then pulled out a six-year-old pair of APC jeans that took forever to break in. Her favorite article of clothing? A pale long-sleeved denim shirt from H&M that she'll wear regardless of the season. "Whenever I pack, I always bring this."
Pumped-up kicks. While the floor of Poe's closet is covered with boots and wedges and sandals, she keeps a collection of thick, puffy kicks underneath her dresser. Because of her size 9 feet, she can fit into men's shoes as well as women's. She doesn't wear her sneakers too often anymore, except for one pair she's had since 2002. "They're so big I can slip my feet into them. I don't have to tie them."
Pretty in pink. When Poe travels the world, she brings some of it back with her, like a navy blue dress from Mali or a scarf from Guatemala. "Stuff that I get when I'm traveling, I feel like that has a story for me," she says. There's a lot of hot pink jewelry from Mali in her collection, and for good reason. "They don't do a lot of hot pink in their jewelry, so I saw this stuff and said, 'Oh my god, what is that,' ... I made them go search every part of the market, and they gave me every piece that had like the teeniest bit of pink in it."
Textiling. "Ideally, I'd like to have textiles that are actually handmade," Poe says as she pulls out a precious pair of pink patterned shorts by Afia, a sustainable clothing line run by a friend of hers. "She works in Ghana, and she sources out African wax print fabrics from the markets in Ghana and she works with a seamstress." One of Poe's favorite bloggers, Joanna Williams of Keep Feeling Fascination, also has a similar aesthetic. "I love her style ... She collects antique vintage textiles from all over the world and she sells them to designers and bigger labels. I think that would be amazing job."