I feel like there’s a certain kind of femininity and sensuality that I’m attracted to when I’m putting clothes together, but there’s also a need to balance it and to break it up a little bit. It’s very intuitive. I try things on and wait until it “clicks”—when it feels like every part of the outfit is working, whether it’s the combination of colors or the proportions. I can’t plan outfits ahead of time like those people who lay out their clothes the night before—it’s never worked for me.
Go High, Go Low
I’ve had some really good luck finding things on both ends [of the price spectrum]: Chinatown sandals and slippers, old Hanes T-shirts and tanks, little tchotchke jewelry and purses collected over time, all kinds of tights in a variety of deniers from the drugstore, and lots of thrifted pieces from strange places that have survived through the years and fit seamlessly with the rest of my wardrobe.… I love them all. [On the other hand] I have this Gaultier top with these sleeves, which almost touch the floor, that you’re supposed to scrunch up to your wrist. It doesn’t seem as insane when you pair it with some old jeans. I’ve learned that most things can be toned down with jeans.
Add a Personalized Touch With Distinctive Jewelry
During COVID, there have been moments in which I’ve found dressing to be so difficult and tiring—but not jewelry. Jewelry is so personal, maybe even more personal than clothing.… I see it as more complicated and emotional. They’re beautiful little objects. Sculptures off the body and, when they’re on the body, they become extensions of yourself. I’ve been collecting pieces—mostly costume and vintage—for as long as I can remember, but my everyday go-to pieces are my mother’s watch and, depending on my outfit or mood, either silver or gold jewelry. For gold, I usually wear a Sonia Boyajian bracelet and Sapir Bachar ring, designers both known for their sculptural work. For silver, I have several “coffee bean” chain bracelets collected from my travels, and a wonky ring that I made at FIT many years ago in an evening class.
A Button-Down Pulls It All Together
Button-downs are so versatile and classic. They can be so casual, and in another context, you can look quite pulled together depending on the fabrication and the way you style it. I have them in a variety of fabrics (silk, cottons, knit jersey even), prints, and fits (ultra-feminine, masculine, slim, oversized). In the summer, they’re perfect layering pieces, whether as a swimsuit cover-up or a light jacket that you throw over everything.
Support Your Circle
Working for a brand like Maryam Nassir Zadeh is great because we get to make clothes that we want to wear. I feel like we have an understanding of what modern women want because we’re designing for ourselves. Other than that, I always have my eye on Lemaire. Every season I hold my breath for the new collection—Christophe and Sarah Linh never disappoint. Denizeri Swim, Sapir Bachar, and Martiniano are some other designers that I love. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this community of small, independent designers. I love supporting them and wearing their pieces. It keeps me inspired to keep going. I truly felt that more than ever during COVID.