Elements of Style

Uncommon Threads: an Interview With Tidbits’ Allison Bagley

The Houston-based CEO of Tidbits loves finding fashion in unexpected places.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen February 8, 2015 Published in the February 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Allison Bagley at Neiman Marcus

Image: Todd Spoth

“I would be really, really upset if I went to an event and someone else there was wearing the same outfit.” It’s the sort of thing you hear a lot of women say, but in Allison Bagley’s mouth, the words take on an almost Biblical fervor, and understandably so. In 2010 Bagley went from a freelance writer in Houston (she had a shopping column called “The Huntress” at the Chron) to the CEO of Tidbits, a biweekly beauty and fashion e-mail newsletter. In her first 18 months on the job, she expanded the brand to cover 11 cities, raising two kids and looking flawless all the while. Back in her adopted hometown, Houstonians queue up in long lines for admission to Tidbits’ exclusive shopping events, making hers one of the most loyal fan bases in the city (sorry, Texans!). Next month Bagley launches Houston Beauty Week, seven days of discounted salon treatments for Houstonians who want to get pampered without spending a pretty penny. Says Bagley, “It’s perfect for us because style is head to toe.” 

What are you wearing?

By Malene Birger skirt from Laboratoria, Diane von Furstenberg booties from Neiman Marcus, Chelsea Flower blouse, vintage necklaces.

Has style always been important to you?

I’ve always been interested in style and always tried to veer away from mainstay brands and what everyone else is wearing. I prefer that my look be unique—but that doesn’t mean highbrow. I remember in high school shuddering at the thought of shopping at the Gap just because their clothes were everywhere. I’ve shopped at thrift stores my whole life.

How would you describe your style?

Eclectic, timeless, and oftentimes minimalist. I am not afraid of color and print but I’m also drawn to a very clean palette of greys and blacks and ivories. I think my wardrobe has multiple personalities.

Your most memorable clothing purchase?

I have an amazing Ungaro double-breasted coat dress that I got for $5 in Dallas at a pop-up thrift store.

What are you thinking about when you choose an outfit?

I hope that my outfit speaks to my personal style, I hope that the pieces are eclectic, and I hope that they’re not recognizable by brand. I don’t have many things with a logo. I prefer to be stopped and have someone ask me where I got something and be surprised that it’s from H&M.

You spend a lot of time in stores—what makes a good one?

Laboratoria is one of the best boutiques in town, along with Leap. One of my favorite things about Houston is that it’s a melting pot of cultures and most people I meet have an interesting background, so I think boutiques that uncover really under-the-radar brands are providing what Houston shoppers are looking for. The owner of Laboratoria has an incredible eye and it’s refreshing for Houston, although I have to wait for things to go on clearance.

I love what [sites like] Farfetch and Shoptiques are doing for locally owned retailers. When someone goes to market and gets an exclusive on a label for Texas, she doesn’t have to hope the woman who appreciates that dress is going to come in her store during that short fashion season; she can find that consumer across the country. 

Is there anyone else whose style you admire?

Georgina Chapman [of Marchesa]. That’s the dream as far as I can tell. I’ve only seen her in her own designs and they have a ladylike, understated elegance that’s also ultra-feminine. I think she’s the perfect face for her own brand. And we all wish we could dress like Kate Moss. She’s timeless and kind of the original—it’s difficult even to pinpoint her best decade. I try to play both personas, depending on my mood. 

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