November 12, 2015 • STYLE, STYLEMAKER SEVEN
Stylemaker Seven: Caroline Fontenot of Back Down South
For stories about people, passions, and most importantly, style below the Mason-Dixon Line, look no further than Back Down South.
Launched in 2012 by photographer Caroline Fontenot (now living in Jasper, GA by way of Houston and Colorado), the blog is a chronicle of modern Southern street style. The musicians, artisans, and regular (if quite good-looking!) people pictured are inspiring not just for what they wear, but for how they put it together in the context of their lives and work.
Caroline, who by day is a wedding and editorial photographer, started her site as an excuse to meet and photograph people whose style or craft she admired. Even her popular Music Monday and Drink This features grew out of “just a love for something I wanted to share,” she says.
More than three years in, Caroline has talked to a whole lot of Southerners.
“I love how quickly Southerners want to share their connection to a place,” she says. “‘I grew up in San Antonio,’ leads me to exclaim, ‘I love San Antonio! My family is from Boerne!’ (30 minutes North) and then a conversation is born spilling guts over all the shared places we love in that area. People are so excited to let you know that where you are from is just an hour from where their grandma is from and they have a best friend who also lives there. We are all just so damn proud of where we grew up and so quick to say why. I love that.”
While place is important to Southerners, fashion is equally personal.
“We all love our classic pieces that somehow represent where we are from,” Caroline says. “From boots to pearls, new or heirloom pieces, we’ll hold on to things as long as possible and hopefully pass them on to our children. . . The modern South is simpler than the traditional one, but it doesn’t forget about being proud of our stereotypes. I wear my cowboy boots whenever appropriate (or perhaps, even when not) but I don’t wear them with a pearl snap shirt and bedazzled jeans!”
Caroline’s intimate experience with quintessentially Southern style makes her the perfect person to help us launch our Stylemaker Seven. It’s a new feature where we’ll be highlighting a tastemaker we admire (dressed in Draper James, of course) along with his or her seven Southern essentials.
Caroline got on the other side of the camera (her friend Anna White took the pics) to model our Tootsie Jean in Black and our Elliot Shirt layered under our Parker Printed Puffer Vest in Herringbone. “Layering is just about the only thing I love about dressing in colder weather,” she says, “and I love a good vest. It can completely change a look. And what girl doesn’t love a new pair of denim that fits perfectly along with a classic—and versatile—white shirt?”
Caroline Fontenot’s Stylemaker Seven
1. Cocktail: Whiskey. From the Manhattan to the Mint Julep, I’m a whiskey girl through and through.
2. #Southernism: ‘Y’all.’ I love that with just this one word, you declare yourself a Southerner.
3. Home-cooked Dish: If my mom is cooking, anything Tex-Mex. She loves Mexican food and is always finding new ways to spin a classic dish to make it new. If my husband’s mom is cooking, gumbo.
4. Dessert: A bowl of Blue Bell.
5. Place to Get Away: Nashville or Charleston, depending on what kind of getaway mood we’re in.
6. Album: My current go to is Chris Stapleton’s Traveller. Talk about the perfect blend of classic and modern country music. I think his album is just perfect.
7. Entertaining Essentials: Fiesta dishes and a collection of mismatched cocktail glasses.