Local business owner Rebecca Wattenschaldt, of Elizabeth & West Fashion House at 44 West Philadelphia Street, recently won Redbook's Real Women Style Award!


Rebecca Wattenschaidt religiously checked Instagram daily at 9 a.m. in April, hoping to have grabbed the attention of Redbook Magazine judges.

The 35-year-old fashion blogger from York City was shopping at Target when she learned that she was one of 20 finalists in Hearst Corp.'s fourth annual Real Women Style Awards. 

From the finalists, Redbook editors, alongside celebrity judges — Christian Siriano, Marquita Pring, Frankie Grande, Brad Goreski, Mally Roncal and Lilliana Vazquez — picked five winners, and the magazine's readers selected the sixth.

Style Awards: According to Redbook, six "fashionistas were handpicked in a nationwide search to celebrate authentic, fashion-forward women with real bodies and real budgets."

The rules required participants to post an Instagram photo that best exemplified their personal style. They also had to submit three additional photos of themselves to showcase their favorite look, said Lauren Labelle, manager of public relations at Hearst Magazines. 

Wattenschaidt — the owner and operator of Elizabeth & West Fashion House in York City and author of the Mommy in Heels blog — said Redbook notified her of her accomplishment in May. 

"I had to go to New York City the first weekend in June," she explained. "And I couldn't tell anybody. I received notice, 'Congratulations, you're a winner. Oh, and please do not tell anyone.'"

For a blogger who wants to stay connected to her organic following, it was unbearable, Wattenschaidt said. She did, however, tell an esoteric group: her parents and a couple of girlfriends. 

"I felt like it was harder to keep that a secret than when I found out I was pregnant," Wattenschaidt said. 

Wattenschaidt said winning was a “validation” of her desires and passion: blogging and fashion. She said she still doesn't know if she was selected by the judges or by Instagram voters. 

“The blogging world can be so saturated,” Wattenschaidt said. “Sometimes you feel you get lost in the shuffle. ... I’ve been working so hard at my blog, business and brand, and at that moment, I felt like all of my hard work was paying off and it was worth it.”

VIP treatment: Wattenschaidt said the VIP treatment she received will be humbly remembered. Being photographed by a world-class photographer who shoots famous models and celebrities was a bit daunting, she added.

“I’m used to taking an Uber everywhere,” Wattenschaidt said. “There was a driver with a sign with my name on it. I was like, ‘What? What’s going on?’”

She said she loved every minute she spent bonding and posing with her new-found friends.

“That caliber of photography was intimidating,” Wattenschaidt said. “I’m not a professional model.”

The photo shoot lasted 12 hours, including full hair and make-up, she explained. The day before the shoot, Wattenschaidt said, the women had met with a stylist and decided on outfits for their big day.

On stands now: The September fashion magazine is on stands now and also is available online. Editor-in-Chief Meredith Rollins said she thinks "it's a great month to celebrate real style — the kind of cute, affordable outfits that can be worn every day by women of every size."

"That's why our Real Women Style Awards are so important," Rollins said. "They bring the focus to women who don't have million-dollar bank accounts but still look super-chic and confident. It's inspiring. It's joyful. And it gives every woman permission to dress the way they feel most beautiful." 

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