Castles and Clothes: How To Dress for Hearst Castle

California has its own archaic gems to share—one need only seek the old-world magic to find it.

I thought it was about time to bring these photos from Hearst Castle out of the Krischic archives to spark a little inspiration before heading into another work-week! Sometimes, I am so on the go with graduate school, covering red carpets and chasing stories that I forget to take a second to write for myself. And some of my best writing stems from nostalgia…Call it the predispositions of a forward-thinker with a vintage soul.

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In a cloudy flashback, I remember spring break last year, riding in a bus up the steep hills of San Simeon, California with my mother. We were on a mother-daughter trip to San Barbara, Solvang and San Simeon. Hearst Castle was a place the two of us had longed to see, as we are both history nerds, and for good reason. As said in Richard E. Neudstadt and Ernest R. May’s Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers, “history can stimulate imagination. Seeing the past can help one envision alternative futures.” My paraphrase—forward thinkers bode well in the modern-day landscape when they have vintage souls.

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My mother and I rode to the top, the world disappearing below us, and the panoramic view of the ocean widened before us. We arrived to the top—met by 250,000 acres of Hearst castle…with whispers of Greco-Roman Mythology, Spanish architecture and European antiquity.

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Our amiable tour guide talked about how the lavish rooms would be filled with high profile individuals—from Charlie Chaplin to Winston Churchill. I imagined being one of those guests—sleeping in a room with damask duvet, looking up at Italian frescoes—walking through gaudy doors imprinted with cherubs and gold-detailing. It baffled me that Hearst Castles has “165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways—all built to Hearst’s specifications.” The rooms were once filled with said guests and Hearst’s one-of-kind art pieces, according to the Hearst Castle website.

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But those who know me well know my favorite rooms of all were the libraries—and the castle had multiple of them—what a dream! I walked around the cozy literary labyrinths, encased by built-in bookshelves of cherry wood. These books were collected over a lifetime—leather bound in hues of navy, forest green, ruby red—what a shame I could not reach for one and read them on a cozy sofa, under medieval ceilings. But to even bask in such a space was enough for me in that moment.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetHearst Castle Bedroom

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Visiting a place like Hearst Castle also gave me the excuse to dress up in a fairytale frock. This halter-black dress goes down to my ankles and can be worn by itself for a more sultry look, or be repurposed as a pinafore (like it is here) for chillier days (and boy, was it chilly on that day and at that elevation!). A white turtleneck kept the dress as the focal point and created a contrast to make wearing black and white less boring. Since the tour required tons of walking around the palace grounds and gardens (those 250,000 acres will get you), I wore my long-trusted Kate Spade loafers in a powder pink with a black bow to match the dress. Here I am also carrying a matching Kate Spade bag big enough to fit my camera and surprise-surprise, a book!

What stimulates your creativity? 

Keeping it Krischic,

Kristin Vartan

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Forward thinker with a Vintage Soul. Editor and traveller with a love affair with words and whimsical wardrobes. Follow me on my journey to amazing sights through the lens of personal style.

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