To celebrate our fashion issue, Boston Common spent a night on the town with the city’s five most stylish couples—the rockers, dancers, and mavericks whose synchronized styles make this city sizzle.

boston fashionable couples
FEMALE MODEL (MIDDLE BACKGROUND): Tank dress, Aqua ($158). Earrings, Robert Lee Morris ($28). Ring, Ippolita ($595). All from Bloomingdale’s, 225 Boylston St., 617-630-6000.

What is style? Undefinable and undeniable. But one thing is certain: you know it when you see it. Style is the pop of a cobalt cashmere sock, the subtle sheen of a taffeta couture gown, or a dainty ear cuff—with studs. Style is a swagger, a spirit, and a fabulous, gigantic emerald ring, darling. And when a couple has it? They’re dancing in a passion pit of chemistry and closets. In Boston, we singled out five duos deserving of applause. They are people who drive the pulse of the city—writers, executives, ballerinas, and entrepreneurs—who also love preppy sneakers, rhinestone stilettos, jet corsets, shiny suits, and above all, each other. In a decadent night out at Bond at The Langham Hotel, we captured them in all their glamorous glory and quizzed them about their philosophy on fashion, life, and love.


New England Meets Nouveau
Ricardo Rodriguez and Michael Kelley share a groovy joie de vivre.

Ricardo Rodriguez and Michael Kelley
MALE MODEL (BACK LEFT): Jacket ($595) and shirt ($175), Theory. Saks Fifth Avenue, The Shops at Prudential Center, 617-236-3100. Jeans, John Varvatos USA ($198). Bloomingdale’s, 225 Boylston St., 617-630-6000. Shoes, Prada ($480). Saks Fifth Avenue, SEE ABOVE.

They’ve been a couple for 12 years, and it has been 18 since they first met, but if you ask Ricardo Rodriguez and Michael Kelley (on left) about the story, expect this response: “You have to ask Ricardo,” says Kelley. To which Rodriguez replies: “I might tell you the story after a bottle of tequila.” It’s an uncharacteristic display of reserve for a couple that is known for its take-no-prisoners style. Rodriguez, a realtor as well as the former creative director for fashion designer Daniela Corte, can be seen in metallic camouflage jeans one day and a black tux jacket the next—in broad daylight, and quite possibly with a strand of pearls. “I am not afraid of challenges, and when it comes to what I wear, the same rule applies. Anything goes.” With Kelley, the founder of the concierge service hiremelocal.com, the vibe is more New England prepster. “I care about how I look,” the Revere native says, “but I want to be approachable.” Perhaps if a bottle of tequila is involved, we can finally learn the story of how they first met.

What are you wearing tonight?
RR:
Theory suit, H&M white shirt, Daniela Corte black lace T-shirt, Louis Vuitton shoes, and brooches by Chanel, Patch NYC, and Lanvin.
MK: Red Raleigh denim jeans from Barneys, Alexander Simai T-shirt, vintage satin smoking jacket, Dries Van Noten scarf, and Bodega Converse First String sneakers.

What’s your style?
MK:
Thanks to Ricardo, improved! I think I am urban preppy.
RR: What I choose to wear is for my own enjoyment. I am open to anything. I could go from super formal work attire to shorts over leggings in a minute. I like a surprise.

Describe each other’s style.
RR:
He is very relaxed—a prep with a West Coast influence and a sprinkle of hipster.
MK: Whimsical, chic, impeccable, and fun.

What do you love about each other?
RR:
The key for us is that we are good friends, first and foremost.
MK: He is the most caring, loving, thoughtful, and generous person. He loves and is loyal to family and friends. He springs out of bed in the morning excited to tackle every day.

Your philosophy on life:
RR:
The sky is the limit.
MK: Treat everyone as you would like to be treated, and a smile usually meets a smile.


Pas de Deux
When principal ballet dancers Kathleen Breen Combes and Yury Yanowsky join forces, life itself becomes a work of art.

Kathleen Breen Combes and Yury Yanowsky
ON HER : Necklace, Rebecca Minkoff ($198). Bloomingdale’s, 225 Boylston St., 617-630-6000. Sandals, B Brian Atwood ($395). Neiman Marcus, Copley Place, 617-536-3660. ON HIM: Tie, Tom Ford ($240). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE

When Kathleen Breen Combes and Yury Yanowsky perform a wildly romantic pas de deux on stage, they really mean it. They are husband and wife as well as principal dancers for the Boston Ballet, where they met 10 years ago. They say that ballet—and being with each other—is their destiny. “My mom started me in ballet when I was three,” says Combes. “I never stopped.” Yanowsky, the son of two dancers, knew his fate early on as well after “watching my parents dance and being on tour with their company.” Rumor has it that Combes and Yanowsky broke many colleagues’ hearts when they got together, but no outside crush could derail their attraction. “We never have to do anything special,” says Combes. “It’s just always special.”

What are you wearing tonight?
KBC:
A Chloé dress that I bought for my wedding shower and an ear cuff—my sister-in-law got me into ear cuffs. Love them!
YY: A Zara suit bought in Spain. I love this suit; it’s probably one of the least expensive I own, but I like how it fits. The shirt is from Massimo Dutti in Spain, with Lotus shoes and Tom Ford tie.

Describe your style.
KBC:
I love layers and asymmetrical, drapey items for daywear. I am all about comfort. For evening, I love classic dresses, usually fitted with cinched waists. I always add an interesting accessory to offset the classic styles.
YY: Daily comfort is first. I end up changing at work into workout clothes. Classic suits for evening.

Describe each other’s style.
KBC:
He has this insane ability to clean up impeccably. He can be wearing sweatpants one minute and look like a movie star the next.
YY: She always looks good—and classy.

What do you love about each other?
KBC:
I love his outlook on life. And I love the person I am with him. We eat, sleep, and work together, so we have to get along. We balance each other and we love being together.
YY: Her eyes and the way she makes me feel. We feed off each other.

Your philosophy on life:
YY:
I live for the sense of living. Why am I here and what is my purpose?
KBC: Life is too short to be unhappy. Don’t fear change, and never be afraid to fail.


The New Bohemians
Singer Amanda Palmer and author Neil Gaiman’s personal style is as brash and bold as their art.

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman

Even though they imagine themselves to be unqualified for proper jobs, Amanda Palmer (“They wouldn’t hire me as a temp at Goldman Sachs”) and Neil Gaiman (“I have no marketable skills”) have made quite a splash. Palmer, a Lexington native, is a former street artist (she used to pose as an eight-foot bride statue in Harvard Square), who shot to fame as the lead singer, pianist, and composer of the “Brechtian punk” band The Dresden Dolls before launching a solo career. British-born Gaiman is a New York Times bestselling author and graphic novelist who has won the Newbury and Carnegie awards. The duo met in 2008 through a mutual friend. “He sent me her CD,” Gaiman says. “I said something nice about it on my blog, and Amanda wrote to say thank you.” These days, Gaiman is appearing as both husband and musical partner on Palmer’s new CD, appropriately titled An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.

What are you wearing tonight?
AP:
A black coat I bought at a thrift shop in New York. The black pants came from Dizingof in Melbourne. The boots are from Fluevog in Boston. I own five pairs and have been rotating them onstage for six years. The shirt I stole from Neil. All of his black shirts come from a specialty shop in the far reaches of the galaxy where druids and unicorns run free.
NG: An Isaia suit that I bought for the Dark Knight Falls premiere.

Describe your style.
AP:
Extremely low-maintenance without looking average.
NG: Ramshackle, awkward, easygoing, and very black. I tend to wear a Kambriel jacket, based on the one she made for me for the 2010 Oscars [for the animated feature based on his novel Coraline].

Describe each other’s style.
AP:
Black.
NG: It’s a car crash between high fashion and low.

What do you love about each other?
AP:
How committed he is to communicating even when I go silent.
NG: She’s fearless, and when she isn’t fearless she’s brave. Sometimes we live in a real-life drama about two people who have to figure out how to be together enough to keep happy—and apart enough to get work done and be happy.

What’s your philosophy on life?
AP:
Be here now.
NG: It’s infinitely preferable to the alternative.


High-End Zen
Betty and Ali Riaz mix couture with Karma

Betty and Ali Riaz
ON HIM: Shirt, Brioni ($575). Neiman Marcus, Copley Place, 617-536-3660. Tie, Ermenegildo Zegna ($195). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE. ON HER: Bracelet, Talia ($890). Bloomingdale’s, 225 Boylston St., 617-630-6000. Sandals, Tabitha Simmons ($1,345). Neiman Marcus, SEE ABOVE

When: 1990. Where: Los Angeles. What: Betty and Ali meet for the first time. “It was at a rave club,” Betty says. “We partied until the sun came up in Malibu. I thought to myself, That was fun…” Guess so. They have been married for 20 years and have a son, Omar, 15, and daughter, Ines, 17. Betty, a self-described serial entrepreneur who was born in Jerusalem and grew up in San Francisco, has founded a cookie company, fashion boutiques (she started Stil Clothing, which had four locations in Greater Boston), and is now the owner of Stil Studio, a yoga studio in Dedham. Ali, who grew up in Pakistan, Norway, Los Angeles, Switzerland, and England, is the founder and CEO of Attivio, an enterprise software company that has raised $71 million in growth funding. Despite their busy schedules, the couple, who moved to Boston 13 years ago, prioritize each other. “We laugh, we argue, we make up, and we evolve,” says Ali. They’ve come a long, long way from that rave club.

What are you wearing tonight?
BR:
The dress was custom-made by Boston designer Sam Mendoza. [I’m also wearing] a Mongolian lamb shrug, a coin bracelet from a street shop in Mexico, and a limited-edition necklace designed by Deepak Chopra—a gift from my husband on my 40th birthday.
AR: A Burberry jacket, Dubuc trousers, Bally sneakers, and Chopard shades.

Describe your style.
BR:
It’s an eclectic expression of edited elegance.
AR: Relaxed elegance. I love to dress and look good, but I must be comfortable.

Describe each other’s style.
BR:
He doesn’t give a damn about labels, but uses his instinct to always wear the right thing.
AR: She mixes it up, elegant and bohemian. She can rock a Lanvin gown as easily as a fitted leather shirt with skinny jeans.

What do you love about each other?
BR:
His “I don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks” attitude, not to mention his wit and charm.
AR: Seriously, everything! She’s gorgeous, a great mom and wife. She’s cool and my best friend. Did I mention she’s gorgeous?

Your philosophy on life:
BR:
Live, love, and forgive fully.
AR: Surround yourself with family and friends who you love and are a positive influence.


Righteous Style
Saran Kaba Jones and Ainsworth Jones strive to make the world better—and look great while doing it.

Saran Kaba Jones and Ainsworth Jones
ON HER: Earrings, Roni Blanshay ($548). Bloomingdale’s, 225 Boylston St., 617-630-6000. Ring, Ippolita ($595). Bloomingdale’s, SEE ABOVE. Bag, Dolce & Gabbana ($1,345). Saks Fifth Avenue, The Shops at Prudential Center, 617-236-3100. ON HIM: Pocket square, Laslett & Stocker ($65). Bloomingdale’s, SEE ABOVE

Ainsworth and Saran Kaba Jones share many qualities, but one of the biggest is their insanely ambitious, bigger-than-life dreams: Ainsworth is an attorney who works primarily in immigration and civil litigation, while his wife, Saran, aims to provide clean water in Africa. The daughter of diplomat Dr. Brahima D. Kaba, Saran grew up in Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, France, and Cyprus before attending college in Boston. She founded FACE Africa, a nonprofit that delivers access to clean, safe drinking water in Liberia. Ainsworth grew up in Kingston, Jamaica (“loved it!”) and moved to Boston for law school. “I became an attorney because it’s a good way to help less fortunate people,” he says. When he got to know Saran eight years ago at a party in Cambridge, the connection was immediate. “We realized we couldn’t live without each other,” Ainsworth says. Because, in addition to the turbo levels of drive pulsing through their DNA, there is an even bigger degree of respect. “We support and uplift each other,” Saran says. “We live for each other.”

What are you wearing tonight?
SKJ:
A chiffon dress by Badgley Mischka—bought on sale!
AJ: An Armani suit, Thomas Pink shirt, and Bruno Magli shoes.

Describe your style.
SKJ:
I am such a girl when it comes to dressing up. I think women should wear items that highlight their feminine curves, and shouldn’t shy away from flaunting their figures.
AJ: On the conservative side with a little bit of flash. I like to be noticed without being too noticeable. I like guys like Sean Connery, with that old-school swagger, and Idris Elba, with his effortless cool.

Describe each other’s style.
SKJ:
All of his suits are tailored and fitted. He always says a tailored suit can transform a man.
AJ: Saran’s style can’t really be defined. She just does it and it works.

What do you love about each other?
SKJ:
I love everything about this man!
AJ: Saran has the biggest heart in the world. She is a phenomenal human being.

Philosophy on life:
SKJ:
Don’t follow your dreams—chase them down. I want to become someone I’ll be proud of when I look back on my life and the choices I made.
AJ: Everything will work out in the end as long as you don’t make anything worse. I want to shape the lives of young people, particularly those in less fortunate circumstances.

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