Written and styled by Tracy James
Photography by Chuck St. John
“One can never be overdressed or overeducated,” said Irish author Oscar Wilde. If that is true, then it is fitting that a high-style fashion show is the primary fundraiser for the Linly Heflin Unit, a local charitable organization whose focus is to fund scholarships for Alabama women to attend Alabama colleges and universities. I am fortunate enough to be styling this year’s show in October, Linly Heflin’s 57th annual, utilizing the stylish offerings of Birmingham retailer Gus Mayer and featured guest designer Smith Sinrod of bySMITH.
Mother/daughter duo Betty Knight and Elizabeth Hubbard have each served as past chairs of the eagerly anticipated fashion show luncheon, and both still give their time as board members of Linly Heflin. Knight’s mother was a member as well, demonstrating a family tradition of giving and proving that furthering southern women’s education is a cause near and dear to their hearts.
“Volunteering has been my life,” says Knight. And indeed, other than owning The Cook Store in Mountain Brook Village in the 80s and 90s, charity work has been her prime vocation. The bantam blonde has a big personality and high energy level. “I claim to be 5-foot-3-inches,” she says with a smile, noting that she dresses to flatter her petite proportions. An outfit composed of a lengthening and slimming monochromatic column of color, especially in classic black, topped with a colorful or interesting jacket, often from Worth or Lafayette 148, is Knight’s signature look. “Does it sound unglamorous to say I also shop at Orvis?” Knight asks kiddingly; it’s her choice for clothes in which to exercise, which she does four times a week.
In addition to charitable causes and her two sons, Knight’s daughter Elizabeth Hubbard, 53, spends much of her time as an artist in her space at Studio on Linden in Homewood. There she leads painting classes for both adults and kids and also works with her medium of choice, clay.
During kids’ classes, Hubbard imparts her own artist’s philosophy that translates to many areas, including fashion sense: “I always tell them never to make fun of other people’s artwork because it comes from the heart,” she explains. “I tell them that we all can draw or paint trees, but no two trees are alike.” As for Hubbard’s style, because creating Raku pottery is not without mess, she prefers simple garments that wash and wear well. Like her mother, Hubbard likes monochromatic palettes, but sans the color topper. She sticks to neutrals and leaves the color and pattern for her artwork. Many of the stores she frequents are near her Homewood studio, such as Fab’rik, 28:20 Boutique, Shoefly, and Jezebel’s Jewelry.
Knight and Hubbard clearly have a legacy of both style and giving. To quote another author, Amelia Barr, “Kindness is always stylish.” You can be a part of this heritage by attending the Linly Heflin Scholarship Luncheon & Fashion Show on Oct. 14, in which, incidentally, no fewer than three former B-Metro Style Icons will be modeling.
Chic from the Past, Empowerment for the Future
Featuring styles from Gus Mayer and guest designer Smith Sinrod of bySMITH
Wednesday, Oct. 14
Sheraton Birmingham Hotel
Civic Center Ballroom
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit linlyheflin.org.