Getting to the Heart of a Local Fashion Photographer's Laid-Back Style

Why Margaret Jacobsen rocks her natural hair and credits motherhood with defining her minimalist fashion sense.

By Eden Dawn April 27, 2015 Published in the May 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Molly Quan

Margaret Jacobsen, 27, has perfected the art of the casual quick dress. The fashion and portrait photographer spends her days making compelling images for local brands like Grayling jewelry, Camp Wolf kids’ wear, and Ellington Handbags—when she’s not chasing after her two kids. In February, Jacobsen teamed up with Emmy-nominated filmmaker Ifanyi Bell to launch Brushfire Creative Partners, a consulting agency dedicated to representing and collaborating with African American clients. Here, she talks easy style and culottes. 

WHAT SHE'S WEARING: This jumpsuit is from Target. It’s my favorite, because it feels like it’s made from sweatpants material. My sandals are Franco Sarto, and they’re the only ones I wear.

the beginning: When I was 8, I made myself culottes. I thought they were the prettiest things ever, and I got them in this plaid pattern that would be in a women’s suit. They made me feel like someday I would be a boss and wear culottes just like that.

FASHION INSPIRATION: The only thing I follow is the Advanced Style blog—this guy documenting old people who dress really well. It’s my favorite. Because the goal is to still dress well into my old age.

MATERNAL STYLE: I think becoming a mom helped my style. When I first had kids, I thought I shouldn’t care what I looked like. I was just trying to make it through the day. But then I realized I could do stuff that was easy, but put together. Everything I own is basically black because I need to be able to grab it fast and I need it all to match. I don’t have the time to question if something goes together.

FAMILY CREW: The store we shop at the most now is J. Crew. All of us together. It really is like a family outing. There have been times we walked into the store and we look basically like the mannequins.

NATURAL HAIR: When I was pregnant with my oldest, I wanted her to see what my hair looked like natural, so I started growing it out. I get a lot of compliments, but I also get a lot of people just trying to touch it, while I’m thinking, “I didn’t give you permission to touch my body or my hair!”

BETTER HALF: Most of my fashion and style comes from my husband. I got my glasses because he got a pair and said, “I think you’ll really like these.” Same with much of my clothing. Same with my shoes. He’s more into it and knows about it more, which is definitely helpful for me.

Check out one of the videos produced by Jacobson’s Brushfire Creative Company on the history and future of African-American culture in Portland:

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