South Carolina Style


“Southern Flair” is a term that perhaps we’ve all seen or heard. It refers to the distinct fashion style that Southerners flaunt and is characterized by old-fashioned elegance, lots of jewelry, perfected (sometimes big) hair, and well-done (sometimes heavy) makeup. And that Southern Flair gets more specific depending on which region of the South you’re referring to. South Carolina is a leader in Southern fashion, thanks to the city of Charleston.


Dressing well in South Carolina means classic, classic, classic. Fitted clothes and polos are in with women, as are vintage-style dresses with a 1950s silhouette (but not retro; more of a modern take). Charleston has a host of up-and-coming designers and hosts its own fashion week. In the 2018 program you can see the emphasis on flowing skirts, slim lines, and lots of white and cream. And the beaus dress up just as much as the belles. Men are often spotted sporting the “Charleston Tuxedo:” a blazer over a white button-up, khaki pants, and a bow tie. Charleston men may make you think of haute Italian fashion, as men dandy up in seersucker suits with no apologies.


South Carolina fashion would not be complete without accessories. As Clairee Belcher puts it in the most Southern of Southern stories, Steel Magnolias, “The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” And when it comes to accessorizing, well, let’s say that Southerners have no fear. Women love their big tote bags. One can never go wrong with some shiny (but not tacky) jewelry, especially if it is rhinestone-enhanced sports team merchandise (Southerners love their football). A Southern woman will always have her travel makeup bag with her. Even things like cell phones bought at one of the many AT&T Stores in South Carolina will have some flair, perhaps with a rhinestone case, PopSocket kickstand, or maybe even a team logo phone wallet.


We would be remiss to talk about Southern fashion without mentioning hair. Sometimes, you can tell a woman is from the South just by looking at her hair. South Carolina is, of course, no exception. Southern hair is stereotyped as being big, and with good reason, but more important, it’s perfect. There’s not a hair out of place. Hair color is just as deliberate. You won’t see as many crazy neon colors in the South, but you will see some unapologetic frosting and highlights. And even if the more metropolitan parts of South Carolina don’t give in to the crazy big hair thing, the idea of well-coiffed hair is never going away.


South Carolina style also refers to interior design. As with fashion, a South Carolina home mixes history with modern trends. If you peruse through local real estate, you’re apt to find old homes that have been restored and stay true to their origins while being augmented with luscious lamps and smoothly-incorporated televisions. It’s possible that you’ll see a house full of antique pieces of furniture alongside colorful, bold modern carpets, sofas, and decor. In a Charleston home, you may catch a glimpse of a sweetgrass basket, a signature craft of the city.


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