NYU look of the day: Isabel Calkins
‘I’m grungy, but put-together and tasteful grungy’
Name Isabel Calkins.
School Global Liberal Studies, Contemporary Culture and Creative Production.
Hometown Rochester, New York.
Tell me about when you first started getting into fashion.
When I was little, I used to steal my mom’s clothes. They weren’t fashionable at all, but I would pretend and make them into outfits, and I would wear costumes to school. But it wasn’t until I actually got to London last year when I saw how fashionable people were, and I wanted to be a grown up so I decided to buy my first lipstick.
How is London street fashion different than New York’s?
European fashion is very different. Sweatpants aren’t a thing. You go out, even just running for coffee, and everyone looks very well put together. They’re still couture and very artsy, but a bit less outrageous than what some people will do here in the States, especially in New York.
How would you describe your personal style?
The first word that comes to mind is grungy, but also put-together and tasteful. I love ripped jeans and shirts with holes, but I’ll pair those with a blazer or heels, so it’s more relaxed grunge.
Are there any brands or designers that you especially like?
I love Brandy (Melville) because they’re so simple. I love simple pieces because I always pair them with lipstick or a necklace, and it’s so easy.
How do you like to accessorize?
I always wear a bright color lipstick. I love purples and pinks and reds, all matte, all MAC. I wear them every single day which changes up my look a lot, and then I love big necklaces, especially gold. I usually try and stick to one statement piece, whether that’s a lipstick or a necklace.
Do you have a signature piece that you always wear?
My yellow coat is definitely my thing, because it’s my favorite color. I got it while I was in London, I found it at Zara and I’ve worn it almost everyday since. So always the coat, and then I have these gold-plated dangle earrings that I got when I studied abroad in Israel during high school. People on my trip started buying the same earrings and calling them like “the Isabel earrings” because I wore them every single day.
What do you think are some of worst style trends going on right now?
I’m not a fan of the denim skirts that are coming back into play. I like the ones that button in the front, but the straight-up mini skirts that we all used to wear in middle school are now coming back, and I really think they’re ugly. Also, culottes because they just look like gauchos.
How have you been working with fashion here in New York?
I started working at Cosmopolitan in December, where I had the opportunity to be a bit more extreme with my heels, with my lipstick, with my outfits, and had the chance to play around more and be professional in a trendy way. Because when you’re going to class you just sit there, but when you’re going to work at a fashion magazine you have to look the part, because you never know who you’re gonna meet.
How has working at such a major fashion magazine influenced the way you think of fashion?
Before, I never thought about why people wear the things they wear or do their makeup a certain way. But now I realize that it’s so important, because women in all the different departments at Cosmo spend hours putting together one look to feature, which can influence so many people.
What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to work at a fashion magazine?
Working in the fashion industry, the number one thing you have to remember is that it’s not about you. Knowing that you’re not the one getting attention is hard. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is being able to take criticism and be told that you didn’t do something right. Just remember that at this level, it’s not about you. You’re not going to be the one leading the shoots or taking pictures, you’re going to be in the background. That’s hard for a lot of people.
In terms of actually getting jobs, networking is the biggest thing. Cosmo did a bunch of events with NYU and the Fashion Business Association, and I went to every single one. I networked my way into knowing people, getting them to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and just showing them that I was the best one for the job and that I wanted it more than anyone else.
How do you see yourself working with fashion in the future?
I would love to run my own magazine, and one day I want to come out with my own lipsticks.
Yes! Outrageous colors. But also, you know how they have skin labs where you can go and get your perfect acne treatment or whatever, I would love to create that with lipstick. You could go and find the scientifically perfect shade for your skin. I think it would be so cool and helpful, because one color looks different on every person.
Featuring Isabel Calkins
Photography by Matthew Babcox