Discover Charleston

Charleston Fashion Expert Lends Southern-Style Tips for Fall

In addition to revealing what's "in," Andrea Serrano reveals her favorite Lowcountry spots at which to eat and play.

As the Charleston Shop Curator, Andrea Serrano authors a fashion blog and shopping guide to showcase the diversity of styles available in the Holy City along with local creatives, from designers to boutiques. She left New York for the Lowcountry in 2004 and never looked back. Now, in addition to working as a fashion stylist and personal shopper, she continues to work on ad campaigns and commercial shoots for clients including Williams Sonoma, Macy's and QVC, just to name a few. Her appreciation of fashion spans from street wear to high fashion to vintage. Here, she shares fashion tips plus her favorite spots around town.

What made you want to work in fashion?

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I took an internship with MTV Latino in Miami, where I was going to school, with a wardrobe stylist and it opened up my eyes. I saw the career I wanted for sure.

What trends do you see for fall fashion in the South?

Fall is a put-together elegance with a nod to vintage styles which will translate well with the female crowd. The girls here love getting dressed up and anything with color or print is always popular. The guys are pretty laid-back and casual with their looks but there always are those daring stylish few that like to push the envelope.

Is there a certain style associated with Charleston?

Yes, I think definitely there’s a traditional sensibility here that translates into how people dress. We definitely take some more chances than others, but overall there’s a sense of tradition and a classic look that’s polished.

Andrea Serrano
Andrea Serrano in an ensemble for the beach; Folly Beach is her Charleston favorite. (©Libby Williams)

Do you see Charleston as a city that follows trends or as a trendsetter?

I think a little bit of both. As far as the food goes, Charleston is leading the pack of the Southern farm-to-table trend. Overall there is sort of this distinct look and vibe and lifestyle here and because of that, other cities are taking notice. We do have our own thing and aren’t trying to be like any other city.

Is there a Southern fashion trend you wish would end?

I think there a few fashion faux paus in general that could be improved upon—starting with not wearing flip-flops everywhere no matter what the occasion. I definitely wear flip-flops, but there’s a time and place to be super casual. For men, ditch the loose, ill-fitting clothing and trade them in for tailored clothing for a more modern style.

From a style perspective, what might work in New York but never in Charleston?

Wearing all black. We’re definitely about color.

What are some basic pieces every wardrobe should have?

For women, for shoes and bags I think it’s always good to have black, tan, metallic gold and silver, and pops of color. Clothing-wise, there are so many staples but definitely a good-fitting pair of jeans—whether wide-leg, trouser or skinny style—a good white dress shirt, a trench coat and a fedora hat for fall and winter and a straw hat for summer. For men, definitely a good-fitting dress shirt in both short- and long-sleeve, flat-front pants that are tailored well, a bowtie and a stylish pair of shades.

Andrea Serrano
The Charleston Shop Curator thinks accessories should feature black, tan, metallic gold and silver and pops of color. (©Clifford Pate)

What is your favorite thing to wear?

Dresses are easy to throw on. In the summertime I like a more flowy dress and in the fall and winter more structured.

What’s one thing about Charleston that will surprise an out-of-towner?

How friendly we are! We’re known for being friendliest city and when you take someone who’s never been here before it’s the first thing they say.

Where are some places every visitor to Charleston should check out?

Definitely Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, the Angel Oak tree, Morris Island, take a boat out to Shem Creek, plantations … there’s so much!

What is the one dish every visitor to Charleston must eat?

I know it’s cliché, but shrimp & grits.

What are some of your favorite Charleston restaurants?

So many! I would say right now Minero, The Lot, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Macintosh.

What does your perfect day in Charleston include?

In the fall I’d say going to Charles Towne Landing for a bike ride and afterwards eat lunch at Ms. Rose’s Fine Food & Cocktails out in West Ashley.

Do you collect anything on your travels?

Usually clothes and shoes.

What's next for Andrea Serrano?

Work-wise, more and more shoots.

Andrea Serrano’s Favorite Things in Charleston

Angel Oak
The Angel Oak on Johns Island is a must-see for visitors, Serrano says. (©Nagel Photography/Shutterstock)

Favorite thing to do: Going for a bike ride, a boat ride or a swim at the beach and then going to have a great meal.

Favorite date night spots: Going to the new restaurant Chez Nous for dinner and then dancing at the Faculty Lounge.

Favorite place to shop: There are so many! I definitely always find treasures at The Trunk Show.

Favorite off-the-beaten-path spot: Sunrise Park [also known as Milton P. Demetre Park] on James Island—it’s right on the water and has great views of downtown and the bridge. It’s a great place to take the dogs out and look for shark teeth on the beach.