Inside Le Tote: Meet Tessa York Gilreath, Our Accessory & Maternity Buyer

She loves an excel sheet as much as she cares about earrings. She doesn’t do fashion formula. And she’s a self-confessed Instagram-addict. Meet our fabulous Accessory & Maternity Buyer Tessa York Gilreath

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Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?
No, I started out in a completely different industry! After studying communication & rhetoric at the university of Pittsburgh, I landed at a radio broadcast company. I met some of my very best friends there but I was missing creativity and passion. I had always loved fashion and design so I applied for a job at Gap’s corporate office in San Francisco as Merchandise Assistant and was lucky enough to get the job. The rest is history!

The fashion world can be intense. Are there things you don’t quite like about it?
I can’t say anything I don’t like about working in fashion, I feel so lucky to be where I am. I will say though that I don’t think people realize it’s not a world of daily glamour. Most days at the office you can find me at my desk deep in excel financial documents. I just happen to love that part too! 

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Who in the fashion world is inspiring you the most right now?
Ashley Graham. She is incredibly talented. Women come in all shapes and sizes and I love seeing the industry being more open to that.

IMG_2194Do you have a fashion formula?
It may be the opposite of a formula — I say, wear what you want! If you’re drawn to a trend, follow it; if you aren’t, no problem. Always wear what makes you feel good and when you feel good, that energy shines through in all you do. 

Shopping advice you always follow?
I’ve learned to avoid fitting rooms. Whether I’m shopping online or in a store, I usually buy what I like with the plan to return if it doesn’t fit. I much rather take the clothing home, try it on in my own personal space, see what it pairs well with in my already existing wardrobe vs cramming into a small dressing room with poor lighting. That’s just stressful.

IMG_2195Favorite style tip?
Coco Chanel said Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory. You’d think as an accessory buyer I’d be against that, but it really works wonders. Always quality over quantity. 

And what’s in your bag?
If I know I’m going to be on the go all day, I can’t leave the house without a few essentials to get me through. A pair of sunglasses is essential, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the sunshine with no shades. I also carry a roller ball of my favorite scent, it’s an oil-based fragrance so it lasts longer. Other key items that have come in hand are dry shampoo, aspirin for emergencies and of course, a fun lipstick.

Which is your most fave piece of jewelry?
My mom surprised me with a David Yurman ring for Christmas a few years ago. We went to Bloomingdale’s together to pick it out. It was such a special memory. Not only is it beautiful, but every time I wear it, it reminds me of her and all the fun we have together.

Which 5 accessories must every woman own?
A pop color pump
Neutral tote for everyday
A bold lipstick
Classic stud earrings
Black crossbody for nights out.

Whose fashion approach resonates with you?
Sarah Jessica Parker — both as herself and as Carrie Bradshaw. She’s unapologetically authentic and I love that.

What are some of your biggest indulgences?
I’m a Taurus, so indulgence is something I know all too well! When I’m in need of a treat you can usually find me strolling the cosmetics floor at Barneys. I am fragrance-obsessed and they have the most unique products. Even if I don’t buy anything, it’s a lovely experience.

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What makes you feel truly confident?
Finishing a Soulcycle class. Nothing makes me feel stronger. The music is uplifting and the instructors are inspiring. When I get off the bike I feel like I can take on the world. It’s also something I share with my best girlfriends which makes it all the more fun.

Finally, what are five of your most favorite Instagram accounts?
Full disclosure: I’m an Instagram addict. I can go down the rabbit hole of scrolling through content for longer than I care to admit. My consistent favorite accounts (aside from my friends) are Words of Women, Vogue Magazine, Coveteur, The EveryGirl and Jimmy Fallon.


 

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