Name: Taylor Aidibi-Dotson
Occupation: Architecture Student And Office Assistant For Gerdau Ameristeel
Where are you from?
Clearwater, Fla., though I’ve lived in Cleveland, Tenn., Portland, Ore., Dayton, Tenn., and Chattanooga. I went to fashion school in Pittsburgh a few years ago—it wasn’t much of a challenge. I moved to Knoxville with my ex-husband to start architecture school and to take the job at the steel mill.
How did you discover your interest in architecture?
My father and grandfather talked about how much they had always wanted to do architecture and I realized that that was also my true calling. My ex knew I loved vintage houses so he bought me a book on the subject. I had always loved interior design, but it wasn’t until this book came along that my attention was fixated. I’d love to open my own architecture firm some day with a focus on sustainable mid-century modern design.
What are your fashion influences?
My parents are both very artistic, so I think it derived from them. My father toured with a bunch of bands in the ’70s, and my mother was a hippie. My mother made most of my clothes, although because of my vivid imagination she often let me wear whatever I wanted to even if it looked ridiculous. I usually did look ridiculous. My childhood was more ’70s than ’80s, so disco and soul fashions came first. Then the mod era became my forte, although it didn’t quite fit. I like mixing ’20s folk textures, baroque period elements, mod shifts, and streamlined styles together for daily wear. When I was 8, I was lucky enough to meet Janice of Legacy Vintage (now at Hot Horse). I fell in love with the stuff in her store and kept on with those styles. I do feel like I was born in the wrong time period, like maybe I should have been a ’20s film star like Louise Brooks. When I see those fashions I sort of feel like I remember them.
What is your favorite accessory?
Vintage brooches. They stand out more because they are at eye level. My mother recently found one on etsy.com that is my favorite. It’s from the ’40s, and reminds me of a crown. It has gold, silver, and burgundy. It’s awesome and gaudy. I think you can get away with flashy items like that if you balance them out with simple clothing.
What current fashion trends do you like?
The styles of the show Mad Men. Banana Republic is catching on to that. They recently put out Mad Men-inspired dresses. It’s also nice to see a guy put some effort into his appearance.
What current fashion trends do you loathe?
When I’m on campus, I see a lot of girls wearing Ugg boots, tights, short cut-off shorts, and huge sweaters. They also obviously spend hours on their hair and make-up and show up to class in pajamas. I don’t know when this trend started, but it needs to stop. You have to ask yourself what kind of impression you are making. Do you think your professors are going to give future employers a great recommendation if you are a slob?
What do you love and loathe about Knoxville?
I love the people here. Sometimes the downtown scene seems too small but I get over it. I love the architecture here as well. I do not like game days. Downtown businesses suffer. A lot of people that would come downtown refuse to because of traffic or all the obnoxious fans.
Vintage pumps: Magpies in Portland, Ore., a few years ago, $22
1940s dress and jewelry: my great-grandmother
1970s Inspector Gadget-esque trench jacket: Nostalgia, a week ago, $44
Scarf: Chicago, $4