Editor’s note: After this issue went to press, we were saddened to learn of Kathie Pierce’s passing. She was an absolute pleasure to work with and will be missed by the Vero Beach community.
Spring is soon to be in the air and our closets are calling out for inspiration! Fortunately, we don’t have to look far. Five of our community’s fashion-forward women gathered on a warm and sunny fall day at Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa to model some of the newest arrivals from five local boutiques. Leslie Bergstrom, Margaret Anne Evans, Kathie Pierce, Bonnie Pfiester, and Dr. Susan Perkins donned a variety of ensembles from Cooper & Co., Sassy Boutique, Frances Brewster, Preppy Palms, and Sara Campbell, respectively. Not only was it fun, but it was also informative, as these five inimitable Vero Beach women dished on their personal styles and what fashion means to them.
First Lady of Fashion Meets Art
A gathering of some of Vero’s most fashionable ladies would not be complete without Leslie Bergstom, co-chair of this year’s Fashion Meets Art event at the Vero Beach Museum of Art. “I am honored to have been involved with this unique celebration of fashion as a distinct art form,” she says.
Although Bergstrom is an artist and docent who is keenly interested in the fashion world, fashion and art represent just a sliver of her many interests. She’s been a business owner, marketing professional, and graphic designer. She has also served on several for- and not-for-profit boards, including Impact 100, Crossover Mis- sion, Camp Haven, and VBMA. On the first Friday of every month, she treats Camp Haven residents to her famous four-course lasagna dinner. She is also helping to develop the new Integrative Oncology Program at Scully Welsh Cancer Center, which will bring art and music therapy to recovering cancer patients.
When asked to describe her personal fashion style, Bergstrom admits, “That’s a tough question. I’m a bit of a chameleon. I love fashion design, having studied it in London, and am interested in all aspects from a design standpoint. I typically lean toward classic style. My favorite designers are Etro, Carolina Herrera, DVF, Manolo Blahnik, and Ralph Lauren. Mixed with a bit of vintage and Zimmermann, Vince, Zara, and Brochu Walker contemporary designs … magic. I am very particular about what I choose and find it rare to discover things that speak to me.”
That said, Bergstrom confesses she was thrilled to discover Cooper & Co. and its owner, Melinda Cooper, seven years ago. “I was like a wild kid in a candy store! She carries a wide variety of designers and styles at various price points, which I mix all up. I found a like-minded friend in Melinda, who is a genius at putting interesting combinations together and understanding what will suit each customer. She’s uncanny and always right! She also has a treasure trove of vintage new-with-tags clothing that you just can’t find anywhere else. It’s very special!”
The blended approach to “fashioning” one’s style is what makes fashion such an intrinsic, individual endeavor, Bergstrom points out. “I wear clothing that I’ve had for many years and mix it with newer contemporary styles. My favorite dress is a 30-year-old Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print sheath dress. It’s as gorgeous as the day I bought it and I feel like I can conquer the world wearing it.”
“I keep wearing the items that feel beautiful, comfortable, and uniquely me,” she adds. “My creed is to take care of your treasured things and don’t be so quick to buy new. Rather than follow fashion trends, stay true to yourself. Wear your age-old jeans with a Chanel jacket or your python pencil skirt with a denim shirt, if that’s what makes you feel great that day. The clothes in my crazy closet can serve as armor, a uniform, a statement, a disguise sometimes; that is the beauty and relevance of fashion for me.”
Beyond the Gym
As co-owner of Lift Vero with her husband, Steve, Bonnie Pfiester admittedly spends much of her time in gym clothes. But her life beyond the fitness studio calls for a more varied wardrobe.
She’s an active member of Calvary Chapel and the Garden Club of Indian River County. She sponsors and helps organize the Love Run/Walk 5K, an annual event benefiting the Women’s Refuge. Plus, she plays in a band with Steve and her parents, called Riptide, which performs at local country clubs and special events, including Main Street Vero Beach’s Downtown Friday.
“When I am not in athleisure wear five to six days a week, I enjoy dressing in casual classic styles with funky shoes, hats, and jewelry,” says Pfiester. “I love hats of all kinds—decorative baseball hats, trucker hats, cowboy hats, floppy beach hats, berets, bean- ies, bucket hats—you name it! I love them all; plus, it’s very helpful when I’m driving with the top down!”
“I almost always choose jeans over dresses, but I do enjoy occasionally being girlie,” she admits. “When it comes to color, I gravitate toward classic neutral solids, especially in white, cream, and beige. But Preppy Palms has gotten me out of my box and brightened up my wardrobe a bunch since they moved next door to our gym.”
When shopping at Preppy Palms, Pfiester gravitates toward Walker & Wade or Skemo, a unique Bohemian brand that you won’t find at major department stores. “The quality is always top-notch, and the materials are soft and flowy—perfect for our beautiful Florida weather.
“I have a very artistic personality and have always enjoyed expressing myself through my style,” reflects Pfiester. “I like being creative and bold, but fun. I rarely go for safe styles or small accessories. Even if I wear a plain white T-shirt, I love adding style with a great pair of shoes or wearing one of my hats. Fashion, for me, is like art. I get to design a new me every day with a different outfit or a different way to wear an oldie but goodie.”
Stylish Doc — Day & Night
Dr. Susan Perkins
Growing up in a family of physicians, surrounded by discussions of patient conditions and treatments, it may have seemed inevitable that Susan Perkins would herself enter the medical field. A chiropractic physician for more than 25 years, the Treasure Coast native is certified in both functional medicine and chronic pain and neuropathy. Having treated patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy over the years, she opened The Neuropathy and Laser Center practice that has become her professional passion.
Outside her busy practice, Perkins is active in multiple local nonprofits, including the Treasure Coast Food Bank, Hope for Families Center, and Impact 100. “No child should ever go hungry or without a safe and warm place to sleep,” she remarks. Nor should they lack a pair of shoes for school, play, or athletic activities, she adds, referring to her earlier involvement with the Junior League’s youth volunteer programs and the Sneaker Exchange program.
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and Shriners Hospitals for Children also rank high among Perkins’ favorite charitable causes. “After witnessing the miraculous improvement of several local children treated in their facilities, these two organizations became near and dear to my heart,” she says.
Juggling a professional and personal life requires a wardrobe that can also do double duty. “My typical work attire while seeing patients is a white lab coat over a dress from Sara Campbell,” says Perkins. “I love the little edge of style that shows at the neck and hemline or pockets. Those close to me know I consider these dresses to be my “favorite daily uniform”—lined up in my closet and ready to go. They always look professional. They look as good at 7 p.m. as they do at 7 a.m., for dinner or a meeting after work. I can just add a few accessories and I’m good to go.
“I often rely on Sara Campbell’s resort and dressier selections for weekends, social events, and travel. The ladies at the local Sara Campbell store know my style, and I can count on periodic calls for a new selection of my favorite dresses—although I am often encouraged to try on new styles.”
Perkins’ bottom line on fashion: “When I am dressed and put together, it helps me feel energized, confident, and ready to tackle my day!”
Margaret Anne Evans
When Margaret Anne Evans moved to Vero Beach with her family 20 years ago, she dove right into motherhood and volunteer- ism and never looked back. She is an active member and serves on the vestry of Christ Church and is a former member of the Saint Edward’s School board of trustees, where she was instrumental in the success of numerous fundraisers, including the Pirate Ball. She has also served on the boards of Hibiscus Children’s Center and Impact 100 (where she is now on the membership committee), and chaired the Signature Chefs Auction for the March of Dimes for several years.
As a board member of The Source, Evans currently plays a leading role in addressing the needs of our community’s homeless and less fortunate residents. Recently, she has also added another cause to her plate—the Vero Beach Beautification Committee, which is raising money to endow common areas with seasonal flowers. “It’s an exciting project which is just getting off the ground,” says Evans.
When she’s not lending her time and talents to the many nonprofit organizations in our area, Evans can usually be found in a Pilates class at Quail Valley or working out with her personal trainer, Lori Long. Understandably, this affects her daily fashion choices. “I work out almost every day, so I live in my workout clothes most of the day, unless I have a meeting or appointment,” says Evans.
When describing her personal fashion style, Evans says she prefers classic, fit-
ted clothes with trendy accessories. “I’ve shopped at Sassy forever and am good friends with Deana Marchant and the other girls there. I love their shoes and jewelry and I can always find something—from resort wear to clothing for North Carolina, where we spend our summers. It’s one-stop shop- ping. I get compliments whenever I wear outfits from Sassy.”
“I try to be true to myself without absorbing the trends,” adds Evans. “Every- body likes to look good in what they are wearing.”
Her advice to others who may be conflicted about choosing their next outfit? “Find styles that make you feel best. Dress for your body type. Wear clothes that show off your best assets and fit properly, or get them altered. And finally, pick colors that make you happy!”
Kathie Pierce was taught at an early age to be philanthropic and give back, and she has done exactly that. From her early years as a candy striper to her current role as chairman of the VNA & Hospice Foundation board, Pierce has dedicated much of her volunteer life to healing and helping others.
After moving to Vero Beach in 1998 to be closer to her husband’s parents, Pierce was so moved by the hospice care her mother-in-law received that she was inspired to become more involved in the VNA & Hospice Foundation. “It was a match made in heaven,” she says about the genesis of her 20-plus years of service to the organization, during which she served on the board of directors and assumed multiple leadership roles.
When she’s not attending a board meeting or a non- profit event, the retired John’s Island resident enjoys tennis, pickleball, and golf. Her wardrobe, therefore, is as varied as her interests.
“I would describe my personal fashion style as very eclectic and somewhat adventurous,” says Pierce. “I am a great fan of dresses, and they are the most extensive part of my wardrobe. If you looked in my closets, you would find a huge variety of styles.”
“I always enjoy shopping at Frances Brewster because Cathye [Motta] and Joan [Lundy] carry a large selection of high-quality clothing, have a very welcoming atmosphere, and have become friends over the years,” adds Pierce. “Cathye has an excellent eye and is not afraid to say if something doesn’t look good on you. On the other hand, she can also be very encouraging to try something that might be out of your comfort zone. She knows my preferences and alerts me when some- thing comes in that I may like. I love shopping local and never feel that I have to run to Palm Beach if I need something. Frances Brewster is my first stop.”
What does fashion mean to Pierce? “I consider fashion to be fun,” she says, “and I am always up for trying something new. Wearing clothes that make me feel good is very important. I love trying new looks and really like changing clothes often. Thank goodness I have a husband who doesn’t mind!”
Photography by Steven Martine
Hair & Makeup by Cindy Goetz
Photographed on location at Costa D’Este