The Look

The Look: Mary-Kim Arnold

A striking writer and artist with a love of vintage fashion


You have a unique sense of style.
I love interesting textures and I love things that drape softly. Most of what I’m wearing I bought second-hand. The pants come from Savers. They are meant to be capri length for someone taller, I think, but I love where they fall. I got the jacket at the Wheeler Clothing Sale. I like that it is cropped – it has a good swing to it. The shirt is from the (very recent) clearance rack at The Gap. I think there are probably a few fashion rules I’m breaking by having so many “focal” points – scarf, belt, earrings – but all these items make me very happy.

I love your use of color and accessories.
I remember my mother telling me that well-dressed French women were minimalists, and before they left the house they’d always remove one accessory. I have no idea where she had heard this, but I tend to err on the side of excess, I think. The pink scarf is one of my all-time favorite items. I wear it all through the spring and fall. I think of pink as a neutral. I wear it with everything.
How does your work attire differ from your weekend attire?
I go through stages where I will only wear one kind of outfit for weeks at a time. At work [as the Director of Evaluation & Learning at the Rhode Island Foundation], I am in a “pants, long belted shirt and jacket or sweater” mode. For non-work, I have taken to wearing long plaid button down shirts and hoodies over everything – jeans, skirts, yoga pants. Most of my non-work time though, I am in my studio writing or sewing. But if I am going out – dinner or drinks – I love to dress up with rich colors, textures and lots of detail. And baubles!
What else do you do for fun in Providence?

We try to go see bands at the Columbus, AS220, Machines with Magnets. My friend runs an amazing reading series at Ada Books. I love the RISD Museum, and I’ve taken a bunch of classes at RISD. I took a class on joomchi – which is a Korean papermaking technique – a few months ago. That class is what inspired the pieces in the photo. We also have friends over for brunch. We binge watch Netflix. Oh, and I love fancy cocktails – lots of great options for that!

To read Mary-Kim’s writing, visit