Kimberley Beck shows off her chic and timeless style. Photo by Ben Caylor.
LEAH OLLIE | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
Kimberly Beck, Butler’s pharmacy program director and associate professor, approaches fashion with core values such as appreciating minimalism and quality textures and long-term functionality. An avid runner, reader and medicinal chemist supreme, she draws upon classical inspiration and evergreen essentials to style her wardrobe and promote sustainable longevity in fashion.
THE BUTLER COLLEGIAN: How would you describe your personal style, and how has your profession impacted that?
KIMBERLY BECK: I suppose my personal style would be maybe minimalism. I don’t have a lot of accessories and stuff. It’s pretty tailored and streamlined. For my job, I like to dress professionally because I’m trying to model professionalism to our students in the pharmacy program, so I like to dress appropriately for the occasion.
TBC: As you’ve developed your own individual style, what are articles of clothing that you feel everyone needs in their closet? What is a real, true essential to you?
KB: You know, that’s a tough one because I would say culture is more casual now, and even dressing professionally is different for different professions, you know? For me personally, I feel like you need to have a really nice tailored suit. You could use pants and a suit coat. I have many jackets and coats because I’m always cold, so I would say a nice trench coat of some sort is important as an essential.
When I think about when I help my daughters dress appropriately for interviews, pants are going to serve you well. Also, I’m not a trendy person. The things that I choose for my wardrobe are pretty much timeless. I’m not going to buy something that I only wear a couple of times; that just isn’t something I do.
[Back to what is essential] for me, I would say I like cardigans. I’m always cold, so if you could have a nice one or two — I think cashmere is nice because you can wear it in lots of seasons — I think a nice cotton or Merino cardigan that has a nice weave to it is an essential. You know I like simple, so it’s not going to have flashy buttons and all kinds of things on it. I guess I also like nice things like nice shoes, the kind that at the end of the season, you’ll take and have them polished.
TBC: You certainly emphasize maintaining longevity in your wardrobe and focusing on the functional part of clothing, less so than trendy items. How have you incorporated the appreciation you hold for the function of clothing into your daily styling and shopping practices?
KB: Yes, and one example is this: I like dresses a lot because they’re pretty simple, but you look nice. My dresses are going to be something that I can wear this year, and I can also wear next year.
I like to pay attention to textures and a lot of things that I have are solids; I enjoy minimalism and its simplicity, but I do like patterns and I will pick some patterns in there, but I focus more so on textures; that’s what I navigate to.
I’m not a huge shopper. I think, “Oh, I need X and Y and Z in my wardrobe” and I’ll just keep my eyes open for it. Especially since the pandemic, I rarely ever shop; there are some seasons I don’t buy anything because if I don’t really like it, I’m not going to get it just because it’s current.
TBC: How have you witnessed collegiate fashion change since you were a student?
KB: So first, you have to know that I was in college a long time ago, so it was a bit different. But I remember that leggings really weren’t a thing, and so no one would have worn those to school. If you had to dress professionally for class it would have been something preppy: something like a button-down with a pullover sweater, or there would’ve been a blazer — probably navy. Maybe you wear a skirt, maybe the skirt would be plaid, since that preppy look was very popular.
If you were slumming it, you would just wear jeans. Maybe my memory doesn’t serve me well, but I don’t really think we wore sweats to class. So the athletic leisure thing is so much more now than it ever was, or certainly when I went to college.
TBC: Antwain Hunter, who we spoke to for a previous edition of this series, echoed a similar sentiment regarding the rise of athleisure clothing. You mentioned that professional attire is becoming more casual and shifting for different fields, but how have you witnessed that shift just from your personal perspective?
KB: Yeah, I guess when I was in college, I don’t remember people attending class not dressed up, even for an exam. For me, let’s say I’d be wearing jeans and maybe a turtleneck, and I remember I would wear this old v-neck cashmere sweater [that belonged to my grandfather]; it was navy blue. That was my test-taking sweater.
We would have labs obviously where we had to dress professionally, and then the students would be more preppy; I suppose that was the style.
TBC: Has your style always been as it is today? Have you always remained very simple and streamlined or has [your style] changed over time as your life and your profession have developed and matured?
KB: I would say my personal style has evolved more, to the point where I only buy something I love. If I don’t love it, and it’s gotta be pure all-in-love, I don’t buy it. So I would say my closet or my wardrobe are just things I like.
This has mostly been true as an adult, after college, and getting dressed is the least amount of time I want to spend in my morning routine. So that means that anything in my closet fits well and is in good condition.
Another thing, in terms of simplicity, I’m not going to buy a one-off thing. If I can’t think of something that I have that will go with it, I don’t really want to be ruminating over that kind of stuff. Overall, I would say that my wardrobe is functional and purposeful.
Photos by Ben Caylor.