BY AMANDA WELLS | PHOTOS COURTESY OF DRAPER JAMES
There are quite a few assumptions, and dare we say, stereotypes, about Southern women out there. Some may ring true and some are certainly absurd. Sugary sweet and outstanding cooks? Maybe some of us. A damsel in distress? Doubtful. But, well dressed? You can bet your britches.
Tennessee native, A-list actress, and tried-and-true Southern bombshell Reese Witherspoon knows that’s a fact. Her clothing line, Draper James, accentuates and celebrates a style that is distinctly of the Southern lady variety. “I started this company to honor my Southern heritage and in particular my grandparents who were, and still are, the greatest influences in my life,” she explains. Her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon, taught Reese much about life, love and gracious Southern living. It’s their influence, she says, that taught her to dress and act like a lady, to take pride in her home, to reach out and help a neighbor, and to always invite everyone in for a visit.
Dorothea was a vision behind the wheel of a white Cadillac in her proper driving gloves. “She didn’t have a lot of dresses, but she had an incredible sense of style and knew how to make the most of any outfit by wearing the perfect accessories,” says Reese. “Her shoes always matched her purse and she never removed her pearls or her wedding ring.” Reese’s Grandpa James had his own sense of style that complemented Dorothea’s. “He taught me that good manners and great style go hand in hand. From them, I learned to dress and act like a lady, to take pride in my home, to reach out to help a neighbor, and to always invite everyone in for a visit.”
When Reese returned home to Tennessee, Nashville to be exact, she set out to evoke and commemorate all she loved and remembered about her grandparents and Southern culture. “That’s why I created Draper James,” she says.
“THERE IS A SPECIAL BREED OF CHARM AND GRACE THAT’S SIGNATURE TO THE AMERICAN SOUTH.”
Draper James is a feminine, perfectly Southern clothing line that embodies charm, hospitality and graciousness. Over 50 percent of the line’s products are made in the United States and are gradually working toward even more production in America, and in particular the South. The line is chock-full of contemporary yet timeless, fresh yet classic styles for modern women that also appreciate the charm of days gone by.
The line offers frocks in cheery prints and flattering silhouettes, casual shirts with Southern sayings like “hello, sugar,” and pieces in light fabrics that are just made for Southern seasons. Draper James is evidence that there’s a new stereotype for the Southern woman: always prepared, always gracious, always in style, and never, ever a damsel in distress.