Layering is a treasured weapon in the fashion world. It can make boring pieces wonderful and set rich textiles and patterns against each other in juxtaposition with the garment’s best qualities. A striped work blouse is made new when worn under a tight crop top, or an off-the- shoulder sweater becomes an everyday favorite when you pair it with a band tee. Pulling off a layered look without looking like a bulky ragamuffin is, however, a skill. It can be an either-you-have-it-or-you-don’t kind of ability, like a green thumb. But imitation is the best way to fake it until you make it a little closer to building brilliant outfits—and I know just the gal to admire.
Teo Griscom—a stylist, designer and the solo force behind online boutique and lingerie brand
—is a layering queen, and that’s only part of her magical ability to create looks that are simultaneously nostalgic and new. Griscom is a fellow retro-philiac, and has a collection of vintage items in her online shop. “I love the construction and history of the old pieces; I think that really informs fashion today,” she says. “I love mixing, say, an old pair of jeans with something fancy.”
Born and raised in Galisteo, New Mexico, Griscom dove into creativity in college at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she studied printmaking, painting and photography. In '99 she moved to New York City and got her first taste of working in the fashion industry as the production manager of Brooklyn Handknit's small studio. "And then I started working for other labels and I've been doing that ever since," Griscom tells SFR.
In 2003 she started designing and created her own women's wear line called Jackson, Johnston and Roe with two other New Mexicans, Sara Moffat and Riley Salyards. "It's all of our mothers' maiden names," she tells SFR; "we had that for about 10 years." The brand—which was praised from fashion magnums like InStyle and Refinery 29—focused on eco-friendly fashion long before the likes of Reformation, and revived vintage prints and styles. "With everything I've ever done, it's been really important that it's made in the US," Griscom says. "Having small production, it's more about the quality than the quantity for me."
In 2011, Griscom founded her solo lingerie venture Unforeseen Circumstances. Past collections have featured an array of underwear like camis, shorts, bras and bodysuits. In addition to selling an array of garments under the umbrella of Unforeseen Circumstances and designing her own pieces, Griscom has also created collaborative collections for brands like Calik Denim and Japan-based Kapital. She says the high desert is her source of inspiration. “I think New Mexico and the surrounding area is such an influence, and speaks to every creative endeavor I’ve done.” You’ll see the green hues of pine trees and a sampling of sandy earth tones in her designs.
As a Southwest-based aesthetic force, Griscom also influences the fashion world by styling shoots for other brands like Filson and the aforementioned Kapital. This branch of her work has taken her around the world to exotic locations; think Hawaii, Thailand and Peru. "I love it," she says, "I just love putting the combination of things together and the travel and the people you meet along the way. ... I love the crazy 14-hour days, getting up at five in morning and working with the photographer." Creative brands street-cast many of their models—pulling real characters from life and dressing them in their designs for a shoot. "They're always really interesting and you style them after what their craft is or who they are," Griscom explains.
Having a hand in so many facets of fashion makes Griscom's sense unique, and her curated shop stands out in a world of Urban Outfitters look-alikes. You won't see pieces from Unforeseen Circumstances at other places, and that's part of its allure. Like all sweater lovers and cozy-seekers, Griscom says she's excited for the change in season. "I love fall, just for all the layering. That's the best part of it." See? I told you she was a layering queen.
The best place to currently shop her collection is on the web at unforeseencircumstancesshop.com. Or, you can contact Griscom for a private appointment to see her studio; if you're anything like me, this sounds like heaven. At the very least, browse her Instagram (@unforeseencircumstances) to borrow tips on wearing a sweater, a jacket and a vest all together while looking like you're so ahead of the fashion game, you don't even consider it.
Kudos, Teo—you're the coolest.