A new generation of tastemakers in Palm Beach is truly doing it all. Their passions and careers are as diverse as their personal style ethos, yet they all use fashion as a form of self-expression. Forget that outdated perception of Palm Beach style as strictly bright florals, pearls, and beach attire! Now, the fashion M.O. is less boardwalk, more catwalk. This new chic guard epitomizes modern Palm Beach style, whether in a meeting, on a flight, or at school drop-off — and, of course, at the Esplanade Palm Beach, the haute one-stop destination anchoring Worth Avenue for superb shopping, dining, and more, all just steps from the ocean. Ahead, meet the next wave of Palm Beach notables redefining the social and style scenes. Meet Sarah Wetenhall, president and CEO of The Colony Hotel.
How do you define Palm Beach style?
Palm Beach style should be bright, fresh, and feminine, while at the same time maintaining elements of classic restraint. The perfect Palm Beach style has a timeless sophistication that mirrors the island itself.
How aligned is Palm Beach style with your personal aesthetic?
Our aesthetics are actually quite similar! I naturally appreciate color and whimsy, both in my home décor as well as my personal wardrobe, while my conservative Midwestern upbringing has trained me to gravitate toward classic elements of style. This dichotomy does quite well in Palm Beach, and has resulted in a personal aesthetic that is synonymous with both Palm Beach, as well as the Colony Hotel.
What essentials should every Palm Beach woman have in her closet?
Dresses, dresses, and more dresses! Particularly printed sundresses and flowing maxi-dresses that will make a statement. White jeans are a necessity, as are fun, festive flat sandals and some fabulous sunglasses. Sun hats are also a must. Don’t forget a great clutch bag for luncheons, cocktail parties, and going out, particularly one in a great skin or a pop of color!
Who are some of your favorite designers?
My go-to designers are Valentino, Johanna Ortiz, LaDoubleJ, Dolce & Gabbana, and Zimmermann. I’m addicted to Frame denim, and instead of tank tops or T-shirts I wear Wolford bodysuits for a clean look. For casual tops and cashmere sweaters, my go-to is La Ligne — they’re simple, classic, and luxurious!
What do you look for when shopping for a bag?
My handbags need to be large enough to carry me back and forth between New York and Palm Beach in my weekly travels, while also classic enough to stand the test of time. And I try to make them not too physically heavy… but inevitably that is impossible!
What is your favorite fashion era?
I have a love of history — and a love of fashion — and am obsessed with the “New Look” by Christian Dior in the post WWII era of the late 1940s. It was a time in fashion that was heavily influenced by the postwar culture — and it produced fashion trends that are still relevant today.
What was the first luxury piece you ever bought?
My first luxury purchase was a Gucci GG canvas logo handbag from their flagship store in Milan. I was in Italy on my first business trip for the women’s collection fashion shows when I worked for Dolce & Gabbana in 2000, and I was enthralled by all the amazing shopping — and the incredibly chic Milanese women who were literally everywhere I turned! It was inspiring. Of course, I still have that gorgeous bag; it’s a perfect example of a timeless classic.
Who is your favorite person to go shopping with?
My 8-year-old daughter, Amelia. She has a great innate sense of style, and is brutally honest! Importantly, shopping is a fun way for us to spend quality time together without her siblings, and I find that we end up discussing interesting and diverse topics while just wandering from shop to shop.
Sarah’s Esplanade Musts
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