Nicole Rottler Harlow talks style and the thrills of life in the teeny town of Taylor.

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Nicole wearing a vintage coat at Taylor Grocery
Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Taylor isn't a typical small town," says jewelry designer Nicole Rottler Harlow of the place she's called home for the past three years. "We don't just wave at each other on the road and call that being close. We make a point to have a late-night get-together or dinner party every once in a while. It's about actually spending time with people you see regularly. Everyone here really wants to get to know each other." And Taylor is full of interesting people to meet. In 2016, when Nicole started her jewelry business, Niett Metals, she joined a long-standing community of artists who call this town just outside Oxford home. Photographer Jane Rule Burdine lives next door, and Nicole often spends her afternoons listening to sculptor William Beckwith tell stories on the porch of Taylor Grocery & Restaurant, one of the town's two eateries. "How could I have had these experiences anywhere else?" asks Nicole. "Being really intimate with a place like Taylor has proven to be extremely important to the way I'm developing my business and the things that matter to me."

My Style Icons

"My love of old magazines led me to Charlotte Rampling, Françoise Hardy, and Jane Birkin at an early age. There's such confidence in their effortless style! I turn to their photos anytime I start overcompli-cating getting dressed. They remind me that half of exuding poise is the way you wear things, not simply the clothing itself."

The Fashion Icon I've Outgrown

"In high school and into college, I thought that Penny Lane from Almost Famous was the pinnacle of style: lots of embroidery, bell-bottoms, and crochet. In small doses, it might still sneak into my outfits, but I've very much moved on."

My Go-To Accessory

"I always have a vintage silk scarf tied on my bag or tucked into my pocket, especially when I'm wearing a coat."

Why I Love Wearing Vintage

"I really like the idea that a piece has a history; I wonder where something has been before and who else wore it in the same way I do (or maybe in a different way). It's fun to open something shiny and brand-new, but I just love feeling like I've found an item that someone else cherished before I did. It's about the memories and the significance of pieces, rather than just having things and stacking them up in your closet."

Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Similar Sweater: Sheridan Ribbed Sweater in Raspberry, $98; anthropologie.com
Chaparral II Ankle Boot in Cognac, $149; seychellesfootwear.com
Jeans and jewelry, her own

How Southern Style Is Unique

"What stands out to me is our love for family heirlooms. In college, when I was working at a bakery on the Oxford square, people there would often have beautiful jewelry on. I loved hearing the stories of their gold signets and great-great-grandmother's diamond rings—really stunning pieces that have been loved for many years."

How My Mom Influenced My Outfit Choices

"She never let clothes hold her back. Mom cared about what she looked like but never enough to stop her from getting dirty or helping someone."

My Favorite Southern Designers

"I love Esby Apparel (of Austin, Texas) and its menswear mentality, and shoes by Charleston, South Carolina's Thelma are currently at the top of my want list. I like the in-house line from Nashville's Goodwin too; basically anything that comes out of there is a vibe I can get behind."

Photo: Robbie Caponetto; Styling: Celine Russell/Zenobia

Cable-Knit Mock-Neck Sweater in Turquoise, $119; bananarepublic.com
The Wide Leg Crop Pant in Bone, $68; everlane.com
Leather Venetian Mule in Black Leather, $149; soludos.com

My Shopping Approach

"I really care about how things are made. Because of my work, I have more respect for the time it takes to create things that really last."

WATCH: The 17 Best Small Towns in the South for a Romantic Getaway

Around Town To-Dos

Nicole's favorite stops and shops in Oxford and Taylor
1. Bottletree Bakery
2. Square Books
3. The End of All Music
4. Cicada
5. Grit
6. Taylor Grocery

A Favorite Quote

"Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?" —Charles Bukowski

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