4 Style Tips from a Chic Milwaukeean

Ruth Yasko shows off her individuality with clothes she customizes herself.

“Style connects people.” Not long after Ruth Yasko says this, a woman wearing a butterfly hair clip – a patron at the coffeehouse where we’re chatting – interjects to compliment her floral-embellished pants (pictured below). Yasko, art curator for Northwestern Mutual and an artist in her own right, swears she didn’t plant the encounter to prove her point. Her outfits, typically made up of staples she thrifted and customized herself, lead to conversations like this daily. An hour earlier, she chatted with a barber who loves to rock cowboy boots. On another day, her necklace even inspired a stranger’s tattoo design. “Self-expression can really help bring people together and start authentic conversations,” she says.


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Yasko uses this term to describe her custom combination pieces. For this top (above), she sewed together a thrifted tuxedo shirt with the sleeves of a black blouse she found at a consignment shop. She also recycled these floral details from another pair of trousers and appliqued them onto her favorite pair of red pants. 


Keep it Practical 

“There have to be pockets,” Yasko says with certainty. Every outfit she puts together has to feel even better than it looks – that’s why she does the mirror check last. It’s also the reason she suggests sourcing quality shoes – especially for Wisconsin winters. And while she prefers a heel, she keeps it comfy with a rounded toe. 

Photo by Getty Images

Shopping Sustainably 

Most of Yasko’s looks start with thrifted pieces. One of her favorite spots for vintage scores is Spruced57 (5706 W. Vliet St.). She also watches for local consignment sales, like Divine Consign’s events (divineconsignsale.com).  

Spruced57; Photo by Bianca Cabral, Milwaukee Magazine

Fit & Flair 

Learning some simple sewing techniques can help you get that professionally tailored fit and add personalized pizzazz. Yasko made this versatile purse by hand, stitching together vinyl, leather and fabric and often adorns her favorite vintage leather jacket with meaningful patches, like one she got from a motorcycle and leather company her sister worked at for years, and one from Brewtown Rumble, a street festival supporting the nonprofit BUILD Moto mentor program. 

Ruth Yasko’s leather jacket; Photo by Tom Grimm


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.