Karate pants with loafers and other unexpected but genius pairings.
Welcome to Style Diaries, a new series where we research the physical manifestations of our closet tours IRL. We're asking friends and tastemakers to show us what they're *actually* wearing during the week and to provide a little insight into their thoughts on the current state of fashion. This week, we are speaking with GQ's fashion critic Rachel Tashjian. With her eclectic curation of vintage pieces, Tashjian's wardrobe is evidence of her expert eye. Everything is purchased and worn with intention, each item possessing a little history of its own.
What role does fashion play in your life? How does it serve you?
“I literally have a passion for fashion! It brings me joy, it helps me feel elegant, and it's a way I connect with others. Style helps me feel like myself and reminds me to be confident."
“Just kidding, that's obviously a picture of Oscar Isaac, and not me. But don't you feel better already? Here is an actual picture of me.”
“Here's how I took these vintage silk boxing pants from day to night! (Welcome back to 2006!) These pants are from Santa Fe Vintage, one of the great vintage stores in America, and they are sort of a miracle—thick, insanely red, and beautiful. I imagine they originally belonged to a champion who was probably painted by George Bellows. (That's the beauty of vintage, I think: fanciful provenance!) I wore them during the day with this Bombay Sapphire sweater I got from Procell, another of America's great vintage stores, and Stubbs & Wootton slippers with little Chinese vases on them. (Dear god, these are expensive. Luckily, they were the last gift I received at the tail end of a torturous relationship that went on too long—worth it!)
“That evening, I met up with two men named Alex, both of whom work at the New York Times on the obituary desk. I needed to look more together—but also more surly, like a brave drifter. So, I traded the sweater for a Lands' End broadcloth button-up (a few years ago, like many other American retailers, they started making a fantastic product with strange stretchy ‘no iron needed’ fabric, so I cherish the two I have from 2015), and a Junya Watanabe plaid and leather jacket. I bought this jacket in 2013 and wore it to absolute tatters, and my boyfriend found another one for me a year or two ago and gave it to me. (What do you get for the girl who has everything? Something she already owns!) What I love most about Junya's pieces are the rhinestone cowboy undertones, so I added tiny cowboy boots from an Austin vintage store and a garnet necklace my mother let me ‘borrow’ this year to stand tall and proud in the face of this wall of Alexes.”
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What does your style look like these days? Do you have a go-to outfit formula, or do you prefer to switch it up when getting dressed?
“Let's begin with a deep, dark secret about me: I often don't get dressed until very late in the day. I am most creative and focused before 2 PM or 3 PM, and I don't want to use that energy putting together an insane outfit instead of writing or reading. So, I wake up around 7 AM, put on pajamas, work on my to-do list and write in a diary while reading the news, and then start writing around 8:30 AM or 9 AM, at which point I will put on something lounge-adjacent and swaddly. Once I've finished writing for the day, around 3 PM, I take a shower and get dressed.
“Then my public life…begins."
“This is basically what I wear every day—and so I am grouping it as one look, even though a more straightforward woman, stenciling delicately and admirably inside the lines, would tell you it is definitely two looks. Here, you see two of my treasured knits—my Lauren Manoogian pima and wool pants, and my Lauren Manoogian turtleneck. I would wear these every day if I could because they are so beautiful and so right (which to me is like comfortable but better!)—but I have read Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts twice, all the way through, and I know all about how you are supposed to air out your clothes and give them a rest. I also like wearing them because I really like the designers, Lauren and her partner Chris. When I wear something made by someone I know has good values and beautiful taste, I feel like they are sending me into the day with a blessing.
“On Monday I was doing very little except running errands, and when I did that, I put on this cool vintage coat I got at A Current Affair last fall for $140 and those Stubbs slippers I told you about before (remember, it was right after I gaslit you about Oscar Isaac?).
“Later that week, I was flying home from the Bottega Veneta show in Detroit. I stayed out past 2 AM and woke up at 6:30 AM to write, so I just needed to feel great, which these knits—plus, my red Tabio socks and Belgian loafers and Rocawear jacket—can do like nothing else.
“Look at the lining on this coat. It's a flashy miracle. I got it at a thrift store in Cape Cod and people stop me on the street to tell me it rocks, which is awesome. When you have a piece that's so special people want to talk to you about it...I think that's the point of clothes for me, honestly! My own personal pleasure and connecting with strangers; maybe making them smile or think, 'Where in the world do you find something like that?'
“I also love red socks, and I suppose we're all beginning to realize I like funny little loafers. I think they look silly and louche, which is an attitude I admire. Also, this little gold ring was my grandmother's. Most of my jewelry belonged to my grandmother. She had nothing fancy, just the coolest taste in costume jewelry, which is a nice philosophy."
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What energy are you bringing to your ensembles this season? What are you looking forward to wearing?
“I shop all the time—browsing online and in stores—but I rarely buy anything new. Part of it is that a lot of new stuff is bad and a lot of stuff is so expensive, but it also makes me feel bad to buy too many new things. I want to feel only good when I buy something new, so it's important to do it rarely, and let the surprise or unpredictability of vintage keep my inner novelty hound satisfied. At first, it was a matter of taste, but over the past few years, as I've covered fashion more closely, my interest in vintage has become political. There's just too much new stuff, but more directly, we have a really terrible relationship to shopping, novelty, and desire. It's made clothing and fashion spiritually empty for a lot of people.
“Each season, I like going back to my old favorites. Not wearing the same outfit every day or whatever, but finding new ways to wear things that I feel really attached to, like my Rocawear jacket, gold Dries coat, my small-but-much-loved collection of clothes by Marine Serre, or jewelry from my mom or grandmother."
“This is a truly deranged outfit with origins that will lead you to question my sanity. After I got home from Detroit, I took a bath and decided to put on a great outfit I'd worn the previous weekend in anticipation of a beautiful Friday night out (...on the corner of our street, where the best martinis in New York are served) with my boyfriend.
“This is a Raf Simons men's tunic dress from spring 2014. I got it in 2016 at a Soho vintage store that no longer exists for $90, and it was wedged between a bunch of pastel dresses you might wear for a sorority sister's dubious wedding. I felt high when I found it. Sometimes I wear it as I suppose Raf would intend, with a big pair of black brogues and little shorts, but I also like to wear it like a crazy flighty wasp would. This is a black leather belt from J. McLaughlin (from 2010—if you only buy things you love, you keep everything!) and nude boots from J.Crew (from this year), and another cool necklace from my grandmother—this one jangly, and I think a trinket from time spent traveling in Turkey.
“I think for the past five or six years, we have had this obsession, at least in America, with embodying a designer's vision—getting the piece and styling it ‘correctly,’ or putting together garments that conjure a designer's runway styling (even if they aren't by that designer; the joy of Alessandro Michele's early Gucci look, for example, was how thrifty magpie it looked, so it felt like something anyone could wear). A lot of designers are geniuses, Raf included, but your clothes are your own! Nothing is more fun than figuring out how to wear something in a way that speaks to you and your worldview and experience and desires. (Especially your desires!) So that's what this outfit is all about.”
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In terms of beauty, what does your go-to hair and makeup routine look like, and how does that change based on what you're wearing?
“It never changes. I let my hair air-dry, and I wear mascara and sunscreen. (Though now that I'm getting ‘older,’ I'm wondering if I should have a more polished look and blow my hair out into a big smooth crazy Soho artist helmet every day or something.)”
Photos: Courtesy of Rachel Tashjian
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