An Engineer With a Creative Streak: How Satoe Kawashima Developed a Colorful, Structured Style

updated May 3, 2019
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An Engineer With a Creative Streak

What’s your style story? Where did it come from, how did it evolve, and what does it mean to you now? Whether we’re talking about your favorite armchair or your favorite pair of jeans, great style reveals and can help express who you are. Today we ask one of our favorites from the closet tour video series, Satoe Kawashima, where her style inspiration started, and how she uses it in her life now.

AT: When did you first develop your sense of fashion?

SK: I love fashion—but growing up, I wasn’t part of it. I’m Japanese and grew up in Japan, so through junior high I had a uniform and didn’t think about fashion at all. When I got to high school, I thought: there’s no uniform, I don’t know what to wear! I started learning how to put clothes together. I had no money. This taught me to ask: How can I create a look that is different within the items that I have? I would change my clothes in front of the mirror—does it work? So I found my style through my tender high school years. That’s how I came to it.

(Image credit: Satoe Kawashima)

AT: Give us a timeline—how has your style changed over the years?

SK: Like I said, I definitely started being aware of style around high school time, not having a school uniform to rely on anymore. I started watching my high school peers. I did not know what to wear or how to put items together so when I saw something I found beautiful or cool, I tried to emulate the style. Of course not all of the styles I tried were successful. However after a while, I started seeing a pattern of styles and a color palette that worked well for me.

AT: What do you use as inspiration now?

SK: Photographs of street style inspire me so much. In studying street style, you get to see so many different types of people who express themselves so differently and all of them look so amazing. I love surprises, like when a person in a photo puts clothes together in a way I never would think of!

What are your favorite style sources?

SK: Scott Schuman’s The Sartorialist. I feel so jazzed looking at people with different ages, gender and ethnicities—and the amazing style they all have.

(Image credit: Satoe Kawashima)

AT: What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to develop a more personal sense of style?

SK: I would say if you find some style that is pleasing to you, incorporate it into your wardrobe. It does not have to be a big piece or exactly the same item. When I was in high school, I totally fell in love with a baby blue duffle coat. It was out of my budget so I incorporated a baby blue scarf instead into what I had. In the same way, you can also incorporate what is trending now in a small way into the wardrobe you have. Through trial and error, eventually you will find styles that make you feel happy and comfortable.

AT: In your opinion, what is the importance of style in one’s overall pursuit of “the good life”?

SK: What “the good life” means to me is being happy with who I am and having a sense that I am contributing some happiness into other people’s lives. To be completely honest, I have been struggling with this aspect and I am still a work in progress. However, one thing I know for sure is when I am able to put clothes together in a way that makes me happy, I feel good about myself. Also I feel a sense of delight when people compliment my outfit because I feel in a small way, I was able to give a pleasing moment in their day. I also feel so ecstatic when I see a person with amazing style. When a person is in good mood, it is contagious. I think with even just one outfit, a person can create a small ripple of happiness around them.

Originally from a small town from Japan, Satoe Kawashima currently resides in Los Angeles. She works as a software engineer in television broadcasting. Though she is an engineer by day, she possesses a creative streak—with passions for fashion, art, travel and food. Colors and geometric shapes inspire her to express her creativity. She loves sour patch kids, but only orange ones. (She eats other colors not to hurt their feelings but she secretly dreams of finding a bag with only orange sour patch kids.)
(Image credit: Satoe Kawashima)

Want to see more of Satoe?

Follow her on Instagram or take a look at how she organizes her closet in this closet tour video.