Jessica Bride of Belle Annee on Southern Style vs. British Style

Jessica Bride is a New Orleans native, but her husband, Nick, is an Englishman. And while other couples compromise over what temperature to keep the bedroom or whether to order in for Chinese or Thai, these two come to terms on geography, splitting their time between her hometown and his. “In New Orleans we have a 170-year-old Greek Revival with an enormous oak tree in the front garden,” says Jessica, “and in London we have a bright airy flat on Portobello Road, so I feel like we really make the most of each place when we are there.”

Jessica Bride

Jessica Bride of food and lifestyle blog Belle Annee wearing our Draper James Eloise Lace Top at her home in New Orleans. “I love the combination of soft Southern styling and contemporary shapes and lines in Draper James pieces,” she says.

A former restaurant exec, Jessica now writes Belle Année, a food and lifestyle blog that’s an homage to both places she now calls home. Last month, she contributed a Southerner’s Guide to London to our Love, Reese blog—an overview that emphasized the sense of gentility that both cultures embrace. Even more recently, she took to New Orleans wearing our Eloise Lace Top at home and at the Henry Howard Hotel in the Lower Garden District. (See our profile of the hotel here.)

Below, Jessica spends some time comparing Southern and British style as well as calling out a few of her family’s favorite things to do while in NOLA.

What do you find to be most similar about Southern and British culture?
My favorite summer tradition in London is sitting outside in a park while someone goes to the nearest pub and grabs a pitcher of Pimm’s loaded with fresh fruit and mint. Friends lose the afternoon sitting around a picnic blanket drinking and enjoying the sunshine. It’s the closest thing to a Southern backyard gathering.  Also, English scones are really similar to buttermilk biscuits, so I get my fill of those, too.

Most different?
The weather! The other big difference is that everyone in London is super busy and generally over-scheduled. In New Orleans (and elsewhere in the South) it is common to bump into friends on the street and then end up having dinner or drinks on someone’s porch late into the night.

Compare New Orleans style and British style. . .
There is quite an overlap. Blazers and light jackets reign supreme in both places, while shoes and handbags are also of utmost importance. The summer may be short in the U.K., but women in London are ready for it when it comes, and sundresses, sandals, and linen are worn daily.

You have three children—Teddy (age 9), Grace (age 7), and Powers (age 3), who is in some of these photos. What do you love to do with them in New Orleans?
The number one thing is to stay home and play in the pool and the yard and just enjoy having space and green grass around us.  If we are forced to leave, I love taking them to Audubon Zoo, which I think is the very best. Lastly I love the sculpture garden at NOMA.

Jessica and her youngest daughter, Powers, at the Henry Howard Hotel in New Orleans. “Powers has an old soul and she is so snugly,” says Jessica. “Whenever I pick her up she wants to play with my earrings, my necklace, my hat… She is always asking questions about what I am wearing, what I am doing, where I am going. My other two children weren’t like this and it has been funny getting used to a new way of interacting with a child.” (Image by Gabrielle Geiselman.)

Speaking of children, how do you compare children’s fashion in the Southern U.S. vs. in England?
Shorts! Southern children wear the best shorts. Boys wear shorts with little critters on them. They wear seersucker shorts. They wear gym shorts and bright pink cotton shorts. Children in Great Britain wear dresses, slacks, and skinny jeans, but shorts are much less common.

Anything new on this latest trip to NOLA that you are excited to see or do?
There are so many great new restaurants that it is almost overwhelming! Central City BBQ has the best boiled crawfish I’ve had in years; Cavan is gorgeous for brunch; and the newly opened Ace Hotel has a Stumptown Coffee attached to the lobby that I am addicted to.

“My very favorite children’s book is Goodnight NOLA,” says Jessica, pictured here reading with her daughter. She owns a copy of the New Orleans-themed riff on Goodnight Moon for each of her children.  (Image by Gabrielle Geiselman.)