By Nicole Barley / Photographs by Michael Fornataro
By day, Tania Grubbs is the marketing associate for the PNC Legacy Project. By night, she is a jazz singer and the co-music director at Fairmont Pittsburgh. No matter what role she’s assuming at the time, this self-proclaimed “fashionista on a budget” brings music to visual life with her sometimes daring, often vintage, and always creative ensembles. We captured the entertaining and energetic Grubbs in her true element, singing in the Fairmont’s lobby, wearing one of her signatures — sequins. She performs there three times a month as part of the Jazz at Andys music series, along with her hu sband, bassist Jeffrey Grubbs, who also plays for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Grubbs, who is also a mom of three, finds her fashion inspiration in everything from her daughters and personal stylists, Zoe and Olivia, to the hotel’s architecture and its well-dressed guests and passersby. “I believe that people often listen with their eyes. Music is quite visual,” she says. “I always try to inclusively engage the listener with my music as well as my ensembles.” How can you not love the sound of that?
Describe your personal style:
Tania Grubbs: “Classic lines with an artistic and sometimes funky flair. I always dress for the occasion. I have several pieces that have had a previous life. I love things with a history, a good story, and I can often remember what I paid and how I found the item!”
TG: Grubbs’ high-end consignment favorites include Ambiance Boutique, Designer Days Boutique, Kindred Spirits, and Savvy Fox. For thrift shopping, Grubbs hits the Red, White & Blue on Ohio River Boulevard — her favorite — and Jewish Community Thrift. As for retail, she has many go-to options: Saks off Fifth at Tanger Outlets, Nordstrom Rack in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Dillard’s in Ohio, Macy’s, Ross Dress for Less, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s. “Doesn’t matter the store, really. I’m always on the lookout! Love to explore.” The shopping experience is tiered, though. “Thrifting is a major commitment. High-end consignment, I can pop in with an idea and browse. Retail is a last resort.”
TG: “Dress, skirt, or sleek trousers. Fitted jacket or flowing top. Then, I accessorize! Chunky bracelets, chunky rings, necklaces. I’m not exactly tall, so you will mostly catch me in a heel. My favorite brand, since I’m hard on shoes, is Nine West! I also have a pair of black Via Spiga angle boots I bought for a song. So comfortable and beautifully made.”
The New York-themed Bond No. 9 perfumes act as the finishing touch or the “pièce de résistance” for Grubbs’ ensembles. “Fragrance notes set a tone,” she says “And Bond No. 9 makes me feel like a million bucks.” She loves them all, but a few of her favorites include Bond No. 9 Signature Perfume, The Scent of Peace, and West Side.
Grubbs is an artisan who works as a silversmith. “I’ve worn this ring and bracelet every day for the last nine years. I make an effort to wear my own silver pieces as often as I can. It gives me a great sense of pride and is a wonderful conversation starter!”
We are wild about this coat! Found at auction, the $35 jacket, which is in perfect condition, was originally sold at Jaison’s Furs in McKeesport and Braddock. The original label is still intact.