Welcome to this month’s Ageless Style where Cindy Hattersley and I interview a different woman whose style we think you will like.
As the founder and director of the international Women Reading Aloud organization, award-winning novelist, Julie Maloney, brings women together in writing workshops and retreats where she encourages them to use the power of their voice in their writing.
I adore Julie’s style and 20 years ago, after chemotherapy for breast cancer, her hair grew back silver. Her hair is part of her style, and I think it’s beautiful. Julie’s beautiful.
BRENDA: Do I understand that Women Reading Aloud started at your dining room table?
JULIE: You are exactly right. Almost 20 years ago I invited 12 women writers I knew, or someone else knew, and we all sat around my dining room table and shared our work…and from there, we are now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. I lead retreats in the United States as well as outside the country and online. So much of it is word of mouth.
BRENDA: You can’t keep a lid on something that’s really good.
Women Reading Aloud Writing Retreat, Czech Republic
JULIE: That’s a nice way of putting it. I think we’re all connected and I’ve been told in many ways it’s transformational for women to come to these retreats. The focus is on writing, and there’s such a wonderful camaraderie that happens when women come together to develop their creativity, and for adventure, and community.
BRENDA: Women writers speak the same language. It’s amazing how in a short amount of time, women from different parts of the world can meet kindred souls and make lifelong friends. At least that’s been my experience with the writing retreats I’ve attended.
Julie Maloney holding her award-winning, psychological thriller, A Matter of Chance.
JULIE: I agree with you. We can come together in a safe environment and feel like we can explore our creativity… I’m going back to Greece in June for the eleventh year. We stay in a family-owned pensione on the Aegean Sea on this very small, magical island called Alonissos. The people who own it, I’ve come to feel like they’re my second family. They’re so kind and I truly love them. I’ve watched their daughters grow up. It’s something beautiful to be part of this international community. We’ve gone to the South of France, to the Czech Republic. It’s always extraordinary.
I was a modern dancer and had my own company in New York City. I was a performer and choreographer. Now, I’m dancing on the page. I always wondered if I’d find something that gave me as much joy and I’d be as passionate about as the art form of dance, but I reconnected with my love of reading and writing. So now for 20 years, that’s been my passion.
There’s a subliminal message in our society that makes us believe that as we mature, our worlds are only going to get smaller, but I really believe the opposite.
BRENDA: Next month, I’m leading a workshop in Tuscany on how to expand our world and find the next chapter of our life.
JULIE: You’re giving them a wonderful opportunity! When people ask me what they need to come on a retreat or the workshops I do online, I say you need an open mind, an open heart, and a sense of adventure…I tell them to let go of their agenda. This is something they don’t have to worry about. They will be very carefully taken care of, and they will be nurtured.
BRENDA: I’d like to shift focus and talk about your style. You’re so elegant, and I can tell you were a dancer by the way you carry yourself. How would you describe your style?
JULIE: I’m probably classic. I love fashion, but I loathe shopping.
BRENDA: YES! I absolutely hate shopping. I haven’t been in a store to buy myself anything in probably ten years. Everything I buy is online.
JULIE: LOL! I buy so much online…I bought a beautiful pair of wide-leg trousers by Frame. All I have to do is have them hemmed, and I have a great seamstress and take her things all the time. I’m 5’2”, so I’m petite.
BRENDA: What shoes will you wear with those trousers?
JULIE: I love boots and I have also become obsessed with sneakers.
BRENDA: I have too, and I’m shocked!
JULIE: Me, too!
BRENDA: On my upcoming trip to Italy I’m taking one pair of sneakers and believe it or not, one pair of SKETCHERS!!! And that’s it.
BRENDA: Are you familiar with Carolyn Roehm? She’s a former fashion designer, a photographer who’s done the most gorgeous books about flowers, and her watercolors of flowers and birds are exquisite. They almost look like Audubon prints.
JULIE: Yes, I know who she is.
Carolyn Roehm’s Sketchers From Her Instagram Page
BRENDA: Carolyn and the wonderful Charlotte Moss went to Italy together last summer, and Carolyn posted a photo of the “oh-so-sensible walking shoes” she bought to wear on their trip. Both she and Charlotte are so chic, and I thought, if Carolyn Roehm wears Sketchers, so can I, so I’m taking the same shoe to Italy.
JULIE: My husband and I are going to Paris in a few weeks…I bought myself a very trendy, but comfortable pair of sneakers by Rag & Bone.
BRENDA: Another great brand.
JULIE: I check out all the sneakers online. I have a pair of OluKai. I’m an avid walker, even in the winter, and a yoga person. But for serious walking, I wear Hoka sneakers. When I go to Greece I like to wear Mephisto sandals. They’re very comfortable.
BRENDA: On Instagram you posted a photo of your mother. You said she was very fashionable and loved hats. Did she influence your love of fashion?
JULIE: Yes. She didn’t spend lots of money on clothes, but she was very fashionable. She made hats in the kitchen and would buy a frame at a millinery store and then steam it over a pot of boiling water on the stove and create anything she wanted, so I love hats.
BRENDA: I’m a hat person, too. The bigger the better.
Don’t you LOVE Julie’s sunglasses? I think they’re fabulous, unexpected and chic! The brand is Zeus+Dione and she bought them at the Athens Airport.
JULIE: Me, too. When I go to Greece, I will buy myself a new, big white hat for every summer season, and they know who I am. I’m the American woman with the big white hat.
BRENDA: And you love shawls.
JULIE: I am the queen of shawls!
BRENDA: You have this wonderful way of draping them. I’ve studied photos of you on Instagram…and you make it look effortless.
JULIE: The only thing I want to buy when I go to Paris is a shawl. I bought one there by Petrusse. They actually sell them at Saks. When I was in Bordeaux they had this entire shop of shawls.
BRENDA: You were in heaven.
Julie at her writer’s retreat in Greece.
JULIE: It was candy! I was ecstatic. If it’s not online, when I travel and I see something in a window, that’s how I like to shop. A few years ago I was in Crete and there were these shawls hanging outside, and I had to run in and buy one. I like to be comfortable when I travel and if you throw on a shawl, you’re fine.
BRENDA: You are petite. On one hand, I would think shawls would overwhelm you, but they don’t.
JULIE: No, they don’t. The bigger the better because there are so many things I can do with a shawl. Ovcio is another place I’ve discovered for beautiful light shawls I can fold up into a tiny little square and put it in my purse. They come packaged beautifully in a little mesh envelope. They’re very lightweight and sheer, but perfect if you need just a little something, and they have every color.
My latest purchase is something I haven’t bought for myself in decades. A beautiful trench coat by Ted Baker, who also has beautiful shawls. I love this trench coat. It’s very stylish, a lighter neutral color, and because I’m petite, I had it shortened.
BRENDA: There’s a photo of you on Instagram, wearing a pale pink ribbed sweater, and part of it you have draped over your shoulder, and underneath you’re wearing a white dress. It’s beautiful.
JULIE: You’ve really done your homework, Brenda. I’m impressed. Those sweaters, I have at least five of them in different colors. I bought them all in Greece. They have long, long tails and you can wear them many different ways.
BRENDA: Well it’s a knockout. Do you have a favorite go-to outfit?
JULIE: I love to wear jeans and I wear jeans often. I have two daughters who are fashionistas, and I can say to them, I need new jeans, what should I buy? They introduced me to jeans by Mother. They’re fabulous. I have skinny jeans by AG.
BRENDA: My favorite pair of jeans are AG.
JULIE: My favorite go-to outfit would be jeans, boots and a blazer, and a shawl, of course.
BRENDA: Do you check bags when you travel?
JULIE: I have, but on this upcoming trip to Paris, it’s only five days, I’m doing carry-on and I bought a tote from MZ Wallace. It looks fantastic.
I think happiness comes from inside and joy and happiness and well-being shows up in our eyes and on our face.
BRENDA: My joy and happiness are still here. It’s just gotten a lot older-looking.
JULIE: LOL! Yes, and the key phrase is you’re “still here.”
BRENDA: And I’m so grateful. This has been such a treat!
JULIE: Yes, it’s been such a pleasure, and I hope we can arrange to meet.
If you’re interested in attending one of Julie Maloney’s writing workshops and retreats, sign up here for her email newsletter. And if you’re interested in purchasing or reading more about her psychological thriller, A Matter of Chance, the lengths to which a mother will go when her child vanishes, click here. You can also follow Julie on Instagram.
Please leave me and Julie a comment or a question and then visit Cindy Hattersley’s blog to meet the woman she’s featuring today.