Our Uptown Artist Mom on the Street Melisse Copley brings her laid-back, upbeat, southern, artistic sensibility to the streets of Manhattan. Learn more about her art, style and family life in the Big Apple, here!
Melisse Copley is a wife, a mom of three, a writer, an amateur artist, and occasional nanny living in New York City. She lived her whole life in Memphis, Tennessee until 10 years ago, when she moved to Southern California for 3 years. Her family now lives in East Harlem in Manhattan, where she is stunned daily by her access to amazing things like the Met and Central Park, but also by the costs of, say, milk and rent.
Melisse's bright, playful art is available at her Etsy shop, Uptown In Overalls. (She calls painting and making her "unconventional therapy.") And, during the summer, Melisse teams up with her beloved sister to offer weekly creative art camps for kids at Sisters Studios in Memphis.
Uptown Artist Style
Which three words best describe your style? Easy, casual, thrifty. I’ve been nannying for the past two and a half years, so whatever style I might have had has taken a backseat to comfort and function.
What are your favorite places to shop? Thrift stores and clearance racks. That way I’m not too heavily invested in any one piece and can switch things up whenever I’d like.
Who’s your favorite style icon? Hmmm, I actually adore Iris Apfel, though I’d likely never attempt to imitate her style. I just love that she’s bold and daring and unapologetically unique.
What article of clothing would you not want to live without? Ugh—leggings. (I know it’s shameful, but I can’t help myself.)
Stilettos or flats? Wedges when I’m going to be transported by car. Otherwise, sneakers or sandals. Heels aren’t terribly practical when you live in NYC, at least not for me. I LOVE walking everywhere, so that’s a firm NEVER to stilettos for me.
Uptown Artist Style Advice
What’s your best style advice? Certainly not to take style advice from the likes of me!
Which trend would you want to see make a comeback? My old bongo paisley print jeans and I want big shirts to always be in style. Not a fan, personally, of form-fitting tops.
What should NEVER make a comeback? Mullets—I saw a 20-something year old guy in the East Village yesterday with one. Trust me, if he can’t make it work (and he didn’t), no one is gonna be able to make it work.
What fashion/style did you love at the time, but now cringe when you see old photos? Big bangs. (Why are my answers mostly hair-related?!? Hahaha.)
What’s your best style secret? I’d have to say apathy. 🙂 Seriously, one of the best things about living in Manhattan is you really can wear whatever you want as long as you just own it and don’t care what other people think. No one is thinking about you but you, right?
Uptown Artist Family
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? Hiking. I love getting out of the city and away from cell reception with my family. You learn a lot about what’s really going on in your kids’ lives on the trail, for sure.
What’s been your best family vacation? We took an epic month-long road trip last summer, where we drove west all the way to Montana, then south into California, then back east through Tennessee, then home to New York. With a gajillion stops, states, campouts, weird sights (hello, world’s largest prairie chicken), hikes, and friend and family reunions in between.
Best advice you’ve received? Once, when my first-born was just a toddler, I went across the street crying that I had yelled at my baby and that just down the street there were parents at St. Jude who would give anything for their kid to be acting naughty. How dare I scream at her! My neighbor very calmly told me to put the St. Jude kids and parents in my pocket, and if I found I was lingering too long in my frustration with Lily, then I could pull it out for perspective. But: it was OK to feel that frustrated with my child.
When her own daughter was little, my neighbor told me, she got very frustrated with her and felt like she wanted to throw her up against the wall. She set her baby safely in her bed and called her lactation consultant crying, explaining that she was not fit to be a parent. When she told the lactation consultant what happened, the woman calmly asked her, "Did you throw the baby against the wall?"
"Absolutely not. She's in her bed," cried my neighbor. Her consultant told her: Congratulations, that it turns out she was a great parent. That a bad mom would have thrown the baby against the wall. A good mom wants to throw the baby against the wall but puts her in her bed instead. She called it a win and went on with her day.
What’s your go-to family dinner? I don’t love to cook, at least not half as much as I love to eat. However, spaghetti and tacos are obvious default dinners. But my kids get really excited if I whip out Joanie’s Chicken—a very simple and tasty crockpot recipe given to me years ago by, you guessed it, my dear friend Joanie.
What’s your favorite restaurant? That’s tough because of my aforementioned love of food. Plus I live in NYC where there’s SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. I’d have to say for a quick bite, I always want Luigi’s Pizza. For a proper sit-down, it’s a 3-way tie between AmyRuth’s (soul food), Nocciola (Italian) and Jacob’s Pickles (southern-inspired, elevated goodness).
Uptown Artist Life
What’s your favorite show to binge watch? I’m a sucker for Law & Order: SVU even though it misleads tourists and out-of-staters into believing Manhattan is scary and unsafe—which was true, no doubt, decades ago, but not anymore. I also default to Friends for quick late-evening TV watching while I eat cereal.
And I cannot forget QUEER EYE for binge watching!! It kills me. It fills me with joy and leaves me sobbing every flipping time. I love the Fab Five and the connections they make with people. It gives me hope for humanity!
What’s your favorite beach read? I love reading so much. And I’m a sucker for used book stores, so I’ve got SHELVES of books I’m trying to get through still. It’s not really a beach read, but one of the loveliest books I’ve ever read is A Gentleman in Moscow. Just beautiful.
What’s the best song to dance to when nobody’s watching? Probably Scissor Sisters’ "I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’" (the irony, right?).
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be? A whole day? That’s tough. I have some questions for Paul (the letter writer, Biblically speaking), but, if I’m being honest, I think I’d enjoy a whole day with Dolly Parton a lot more.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list? Man, I feel like I haven’t been anywhere really, so the list is long. Lately, I’ve been hung up on going to Greece though. Or maybe Italy? I like vacations that offer opportunities for both exploration and relaxation.
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day? We have a patio now (a Manhattan miracle!) and when the weather is right, I really like to go out back and sit in my little garden. Preferably with a friend and perhaps a glass or two of wine. But if I lived somewhere else, that whole scenario would take place on my front porch, either in a porch swing or a pair of rocking chairs.
Your Uptown Artist Style
We love Melisse's straightforward attitude and the joy she takes in food, family, art, books, and travel. Her personality shines as brightly as her artwork! How to take lessons from Melisse's style? Visualize yourself confidently walking the streets of New York, wearing whatever you please and whatever works for you!
We'd love to front-porch or back-patio sit with you anytime, kicking back and listening to all your advice: from raising teens to moving cross-country to embracing your Uptown in Overalls style.
And for more stylish moms, be sure to check out FamilyApp's Mom on the Street Channel!