Illustration by Ayalah Hutchins.
You’re known for your personal style. Have you always liked getting dressed? When did you first realize that you had a look?
“Always liked getting dressed. Not always good at it! In my seventeenth summer, I was at a Christian youth conference in Michigan—you heard me—and as part of some game, we had to divide into groups and choose the best-dressed from each. I won in my group. I was wearing a red-and-pink-striped shirt, red backless sneakers, and a red visor.”
What are the inspirations for your current look?
“My style is all about what I wasn’t in the ’90s: grungy, sexy, cool, platform-heeled, blonde, etc. I heart the teen movie wardrobes of that decade. But I’m growing up, and so, returning to prepster obsessions: stripes, pleats, a trench as a dress, a white shirt as a dress, a cardigan as a dress… I’ll wear anything as a dress.”
Does the term It girl make you smile? Or…
“Smirk? Look, if I were living in New York, I’d be one of a thousand girls like me. Only here do I catch hell and attention for having a certain haircut or attitude, or for going to parties and getting up to bitch about them the next day. Shinan Govani, the shrewdest observer, tweeted something about me being an It girl by positioning myself as the anti It Girl. Such adroit positioning. I must have done it in my sleep.”
What was the first magazine you ever had a subscription to?
“National Geographic and OWL Kids. OWL stands for ‘outdoor and wild life.’ I guess the latter still fits.”
Which websites do you check at least twice a day?
“WWD.com and Style.com, like everyone in the biz. Yawn. I refresh Fashion Gone Rogue, Jeremy Dante, or FotoDecadent for scans, and I’m always on Hype Machine finding mood music. On Tumblr: Firmuhment, Bunny Bisous, and Model.BurnBook. Oh, and EyeWeekly.com and FashionMagazine.com, because I have loyalties.”
You write for both print and online. Do you have a preference and if so, why?
“It’s easier to write online—fewer edits, no negotiation with art directors. But I like having and holding a print piece better than linking to a post online. That’s just my ungenerational love of paper.”
You’ve extended your brand outside of a standard byline, with your blog, Twitter etc. Do you consider those extras to be a necessary part of being a working journalist these days? Or do you do them mostly because they’re fun?
“Yeah, don’t love this question. (That means it’s a good one.) I’m not sure. I’ve had more than one cocktail standoff with a peer or PR who insists on standing there, talking up my personal brand. How is it so great or so different? Like, compared to my personality? I don’t get it, but I don’t want to be disingenuous.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, not a blogger—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but I started practising on personal blogs. That practice continued and became part of a persona, the persona became part of my job, and then it spun off into other practices, like Twitter. Now I’m all tangled up. It might not have been necessary to begin with, but it feels difficult to undo now. Sometimes, of course, it’s fun. Mostly it’s fine. I can live with myselves. (Although, answering this nearly changed that. Ugh! Who am I, even? Not anyone big enough to be a brand.)”
In your writing, you’ve shared certain aspects of your personal life. Some people who approach you might feel like they know you. Has that been mostly a nice thing? Do you ever find yourself deleting parts of what you’ve written because they’re too personal?
“If someone feels like they know me already, they’re less likely to pry. I think perpetuating assumptions is just another way of self-protecting. Um, I can’t remember if I’ve deleted any personal stuff, which means that if I have, I’ve done a very good job of it.”
In film, which character’s style do you most admire?
“Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums, Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, Eva Green in The Dreamers.”
Which literary hero do you most identify with?
“Esther Greenwood [from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath], followed closely by the girl in Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep.”
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
“I used to be gifted.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, cigarettes and falcon in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Audrey Hepburn in a publicity photo for Funny Face.
Sylvia Plath, the poet and author of The Bell Jar. Buy it here.