Style Icon: Demarish Smith

Demarish arranges tulips from Whole Foods wearing a printed Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress. Gold cuff necklace from TJ Maxx.

Demarish Smith

Mom, Wife, Breast Cancer Survivor, and Athlete

Written by Tracy James  Photographed by Chuck St. John

“I’m a Maxxinista,” Demarish Smith explains as I peruse the designer fashion selections in the closet of her Highland Lakes home. She is referring to the fact that some of her garments were found at The Runway at TJ Maxx, a section exclusively located within the Hoover store that carries discounted high–end designer items. Other designer duds, including fashions from Diane von Furstenberg, Vince and Alice & Olivia, come from her favorite Birmingham shopping destination, Saks Fifth Avenue.

A child of the ’80s, her style has evolved from chinos to skinny leather J.Brands. “I like outfits that can be amped up with a great well-cut jacket, scarf, or handbag,” Smith says. Handbags are a big part of her personal style, and Smith’s impressive collection includes bags by YSL, Chanel, Gucci, and Balenciaga. Shoes certainly aren’t an afterthought. A new pair of Dior snakeskin wedges sit ready to complement colorful Spring dresses, and currently on her wish list is a pair of red, fringed, gold studded Giuseppe Zanotti sandals she spotted on

One preference that hasn’t changed since the ’80s is her preference for color. A favorite color combination is red with hot pink, although purple, green, and yellow also make appearances in her closet. Leopard print plays a starring role as well, and she’s not afraid to combine tasteful versions of the popular print with color, evidenced by the leopard tunic and orange and fuchsia–flame stitch shorts she’s wearing when we first meet.

After one glance at her muscular legs, I tell Smith that, just as Michelle Obama favors sleeveless styles to show off her cut arms, I hope she often wears hemlines short enough to highlight her shapely gams. (Speaking of the First Lady, Smith notes that she had her bangs before Mrs. O had her now infamous fringe.) Growing up in Mobile, Smith participated in sports; now she “kills herself” with a rigorous daily routine that includes tennis, running, and Pilates. “I’m a gym rat,” she says. She’s also a breast cancer survivor, now in remission three years. So fitness and maintaining a “beautiful, fun-filled, healthy lifestyle” is not just a hobby, but a badge of honor.

Another First Lady, Jackie O, is among Smith’s own style icons — “post White House, with her Bernardo sandals and huge sunnies.” Also on the list: Diana Ross (“think [the 1975 film] Mahogany”) and Kerry Washington (“you need to do yourself a favor and watch [the TV show] Scandal”). She also turns to fashion magazines like Essence, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle for ideas and inspiration. Not inspiring? Reality TV. “I’m almost 42,” the mother of two states, “I don’t want to look like I’m auditioning for Real Housewives.”

The stereotypical Real Housewives look seems to encompass many of Smith’s style pet peeves. Dislikes include stilettos in the daytime and “confusing fitted with too damn tight.” One-shouldered tops and be-dazzled jeans are also frowned upon, both of which Smith deems a bit too “behind the gates,” especially when worn with “high heeled wedge flips flops and a leather belt with a big ol’ cross on it,” she explains. “We love Jesus like nobody’s biz in Shelby County,” she says with a smile,”but I don’t need an outfit to prove it.”

Style is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Demarish Smith is one woman confident in her own person and style.

Demarish is right on trend in her Diane von Furstenberg silk dress in green, THE color of Spring 2013

Demarish is a fan of scarves – these are by Theodora & Callum and Chanel. Rebecca Minkoff bag, which Demarish bought at a recent Saks event where she met the designer herself.

Among her large designer handbag collection is the pink patent leather YSL “Muse” handbag. Leopard print is a favorite, evidenced here in her iPhone and iPad case.

Statement necklaces add interest and pop. Necklace from, Nicole Miller dress in black and white, an in-style color combo this Spring.

Demarish shows off her toned legs in Gap shorts, J.Crew tunic top, Forever 21 Necklace & David Yurman ring.

Ready for a night out with her husband at Ocean, one of their favorite Birmingham restaurants. BCBG leopard jacket, Rag & Bone tuxedo shorts, Spanx tank, Jimmy Choo shoes & Marc Jacobs clutch.

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