My Style, Rumi Neely: The Toast of the Blog-o-sphere Dishes on Her High/low Look

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We read countless fashion blogs daily, but no other blogger can put together outfits quite like Rumi Neely. Her blog, Fashiontoast.com, is practically a how-to on the high/low aesthetic: Whether it's pairing a $15 Forever 21 dress with Chloé boots or an Alexander Wang backpack with a Hanes tank (Alex would be proud), Rumi strings together pieces effortlessly, culling inspiration and styles from all over the fashion road map. We tracked down the budding internet sensation to get the scoop on her upcoming RVCA campaign, her big obsessions for 2009, and how to look great without spending barely anything!
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How would you describe your personal style?
"One part grunge, one part Parisian influence, then rolled around in the San Diego sand and dipped into a giant jewelry box. I love pieces that are both simple and fresh, and I have what I think is bordering on a fetish for ankle boots...you'll probably find me in shorts and my Chloé Doc Marten wedges walking to a bar by the beach to get lobster tacos."
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What five pieces define your everyday style?
1. "A skin-tight black minidress with cutout shoulders, a mock neck, and a flared skirt, possibly my favorite thrift store find ever. Though I did have to get about 30 inches hemmed off of it first."
2. "This ridiculously threadbare tie-dyed vintage Grateful Dead shirt. There's a huge hole in the middle of it that's literally held together by two stitches, it's hilarious."
3. "A vintage plaid poncho with black leather fringe...it sounds hideous, and it kind of is, but I love it."
4. "My mini collection of boots from Paulo Melim Andersson's fall/winter '07 collection. I can literally wear them for miles, and they just go with everything in my closet."
5. "A microscopic pair of silver Topshop shorts. They're unapologetically trashy."
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What was your most recent fashion purchase?
"I just picked up a cropped military jacket that I've been wearing with white cutoffs. What's crazy is that it's an authentic uniform piece, but you would never think it from the way it's cut."
What's one thing you would never be caught dead wearing?
"High-waisted skinny jeans. I just don't think they work."
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What's your favorite place in San Francisco?
"This is so nerdy, but I freaking love Kinokuniya bookstore in Japantown. I always stock up on magazines there before going next door to get a crepe the size of my head. Vivi, Figaro, and Japanese Nylon and Vogue are all so much fun to flip through. Since I haven't been to Tokyo to visit my grandparents for a couple years, this place is pretty much the closest I can get to catching up with what's going on in fashion in Japan."
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You have a self-proclaimed obsession with Forever21. Any tips for how to navigate the gigantic fast-fashion chain, and others like it (H&M,
Zara)?

Shop online! Forever 21 is kind of a headache no matter how high your spirits are. I think I've familiarized myself with what they do right and wrong in terms of fabric, and cut so it's pretty apparent on a random browse what has real life potential. Stay away from shiny materials and that ubiquitous jersey crap, and instead look for cottons or lace that would be harder to screw up. They have a pretty good selection of tights and odd little accessories like studded rings and feather earrings."
What's your favorite investment piece that you own?
"My Givenchy Nightingale—it's the best airport bag I've ever had, and I never get sick of that thick zippered strap. Sometimes you just need to carry a bunch of stuff around, you know?"
What would you say is the difference between East Coast and West Coast fashion?
"In California there's less of a reason to dress up or layer, so it's definitely more casual and messy. I feel like if I lived in New York I would put a little more thought into what I wore. The energy of the city is rad."
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What are your favorite blogs or magazines to read?
"I love street style blogs like The Sartorialist and Garance Doré, and am a complete magazine junkie. My favorites are British Elle, Paris Vogue, and Italian Vogue."
Any crazy stories/fans since you started Fashion Toast?
"No crazy stories! Readers that approach me in the street or wherever are always really sweet, and I'm the one more likely to get all flustered."
You opened Treasure Chest Vintage on Ebay. Do you have any advice for how to score finds on Ebay?
"When I'm in the mood to sift I just type in one word to describe something I'm interested in and browse the results from there. You can literally find anything with patience. It's also really great for finding past season designer shoes you might have missed out on and have suddenly become completely necessary to live."
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Favorite fashion decade?
"The '60s—all the leather, flowy gauze, minis, and eyeliner combined with free love and dirty rockers? I'm not sure any decade will ever be as iconic."
Are there any movies that you keep going back to for style inspiration?
"Gwyneth Paltrow in Great Expecations is just amazing. Empire Records and Hackers are my favorite '90s movies. It's all about Liv Tyler in that cropped sweater. And Amanda Peet as some kind of Edie approximation in Igby Goes Down is pretty good too."
What's the next piece you plan on splurging on and/or wish you could splurge on?
"That Alexander Wang mesh minidress from spring '09—it's just begging for some beaten up boots and a sick party."
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Any obsessions for 2009?
"Anything inappropriately sheer, white jeans, feather earrings…perhaps all in conjuction. Also, the revival of henna tattoos…I think it's been long enough for them to not seem directly associated with Madonna anymore. I love earrings that kind of just hook around your ear and don't require a piercing but they're pretty hard to find."
What's next for Fashion Toast?
"I'm working on designing a couple pieces for a yet to be revealed clothing collaboration and hopefully a trip to Paris that I've been wanting to take for a long time. Plus, my boyfriend Colin just shot me for RVCA's fall '09 campaign. I got to style it with all my crazy shoes and the whole thing was a blast since the design director, Kristin, and I are good friends. We all met up at one of my favorite oceanside spots in San Diego and just went nuts till the sun set. Look for the results in a few months."