By Liz Petoniak / Photographs by Michael Fornataro

Difference not only makes fashion interesting — it also makes it fun and genuine. Erin Szymanski knows this all too well, offering brides-to-be an alternative perspective on their wedding day attire at her unique bridal boutique, Glitter & Grit. After watching friends struggle to find gowns for their big days (and ordering her own wedding dress online), a lack of diversity in bridal wear is what motivated the Sewickley native, who says she wasn’t a “bridey” person, to enter the world of weddings almost two years ago. Working in conjunction with hard-to-find, lesser-known, smaller designers, who create bridal ensembles with truly individual elements, she’s changing the face of weddings in Pittsburgh. She says, “I’m not going to push traditions on people. I think you [brides] should do whatever you want, and so I sell a rainbow dress and pant suits! I think the more that vendors encourage people to just stay true to themselves, the more that will become the norm, versus doing tradition for tradition’s sake.” Szymanski breaks tradition in her personal style, too. When we arrived at the boutique, the stylish entrepreneur was sporting a maxi dress by Ash + Light, the new bridesmaid line the Lawrenceville shop recently began carrying, paired with a leather jacket. And with that combination, she shows her style savvy, while simultaneously turning the myth of the unrecyclable bridesmaid dress on its head. We “do” admire her vision!

Glitter & Grit, 5300 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412.781.2375.

How would you describe your personal style?

Erin Szymanski: In evolution right now [laughs]. I spent so many years working in a cubicle, having a professional wardrobe, and now coming into here [Glitter & Grit], I can wear whatever I want! I’m definitely cycling in new pieces and still figuring it out. But, I would say my style is minimalist with an edge.

What inspires your fashion sense?

ES: I get obsessed with musicians. I want to look like them. I love Sarah Barthel of Phantogram. She wears body chains and I love her style! Alison Mosshart is another one that I love. She’s a little bit grungier and dirtier, but I love her style, too.

Who are your favorite designers and where are your favorite places to shop?

ES: I don’t get to shop much anymore, so I try to be more selective about the money that I’m spending. Being a small business in Lawrenceville, I definitely want to spread that around and support the smaller designers and smaller stores. So, I like to shop at Pavement, Jules, and Ragged Row. As far as designers go, I always love Balmain.

Who are your style icons?

ES: Kate Moss, forever and ever. I always liked Dree Hemingway’s style. And, for a real classic, Audrey Hepburn is always there. If I ever need to dress really nice, I will go for her! She was a minimalist, but what she was doing also pushed the envelope a little bit.

What are your wardrobe essentials?

ES: My leather jacket. All I ever wear are leather jackets! Black boots — booties, combat boots, knee-highs — I like them all. And, skinny jeans. I’m not going to let go of them yet; I’m just not.

A few of her favorite things:

Moop canvas Messenger no.3 bag

Moop canvas “Messenger no.3” bag. Moop bags are handcrafted in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

Hudson Jeans waxed skinnies

Hudson Jeans waxed skinnies. “A lot of the waxed denim can be really tough. I love these because they are so soft and comfortable,” says Szymanski.

Seychelles Unlock The Door cut-out bootie

Seychelles “Unlock The Door” cut-out bootie.

Say “yes” to the perfect dress at one of two trunk shows at Glitter & Grit this month! Shop simple, graceful frocks from Nicole Miller, May 15-17, and lacy, Bohemian styles from Daughters of Simone, May 29-31.

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