Your Style: Cathy Ashton

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Cathy Ashton of Rochester.

Motto:I prefer natural colors and fabrics, and always carry a secure bag when traveling.

Cathy Ashton, of Rochester, a longtime Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestra office member, has strong connections to the Far East.

"I retired from 15 years as SEMYO's office manager and have taken a break from 30 years of organizing and taking groups to China and Tibet," Ashton said. "I have taught meditation and Buddhism at the FMC (Federal Medical Center) for over 10 years, I'm a hospice volunteer and I help put on the International Film Festival every May. I am currently actively working with the mayor and others to declare Rochester a Compassionate City."

Cathy and husband Bob have two daughters and five grandchildren in California.

How would you describe your style?


Comfortable, subtle, great color, quality, sometimes funky. Unconventionally stylish.

And how did you get it?

I think I came into my own when I started traveling to China over 30 years ago. (I was) introduced to a new style in Hong Kong, then China, three years before it showed up in the Midwest.

Any inspiration from family or friends?

As a child in a family of nine siblings, I had to wear the same dress or skirt to Catholic school all week. I fell in love with a skirt and top my grandmother cut down from one of her dresses and wore it the most. Over the years, my sisters have often complimented me on my style.

Are there fashion industry names you admire?

It's more catalogs: Sundance, Garnet Hill, Title Nine, Athleta, PrAna, Anthropologie.

How has your style changed with your stages in life?


More comfort with my changing body, natural colors and fabrics, more sitting meditation wear.

What are your wardrobe essentials?

Comfort, quality and fit.

What should every well-dressed woman have in her wardrobe?

Clothing and color that are right for your body. Favorite scarves and earrings in accent colors. Good fitting shoes and boots.

Do you carry a bag?

I love bags, and most often choose a purse that slings over my shoulder so my hands are free. A secure bag is essential when traveling.

Do you have a priceless sentimental piece?


A jade Buddha on a gold chain.

Is there something in your wardrobe people would find surprising?

Red shoes.

Favorite colors to wear?

Different shades of subtle greens, taupes, grays and browns. Turquoise and white. I don't wear pink.


Look at lots of styles that you like to get images in your mind. Then shop the sales at higher-end stores, outlets and from catalogs to find those good pieces at a good price … even if you don't need it right away. You find the pieces fit together when you need them.

Anne Murphy is a Rochester freelance writer who has been a professional journalist for more than 30 years.


Do you know somebody who's got special style? Send nominations to or call Life section editor Jeff Pieters at 507-285-7748.

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