What to Wear This Week: Venessa Arizaga

Outfit inspiration from this Brooklyn-based jewelry designer


What do you ask yourself when getting dressed in the morning? Whether or not you’re inclined to admit the impetus of why you say what you do with the clothes that you wear, they make a statement. You make a choice about how you will present yourself, to wear a thing that will pick up slack where words might fail you, or conversely, surprise the onlookers who become your audience. It’s an intellectual choice whether or not you’re willing to see it and everyone participates in its power.

In today’s edition of What to Wear This Week, jewelry designer Venessa Arizaga breaks down the mechanics of what she wears and why.

What are you thinking when you get dressed in the morning? Do you ask yourself any questions?

I’m the Queen of Comfort; my work days are filled with a lot of running around and calisthenics, not necessarily by choice. I have a small in-house team and I wear a lot of hats throughout the day, so I often ask myself, “Do I want my favorite silk/wool tailored pant to split in half from bum to center while on a ladder in heels reaching for a roll of bubble wrap?”

I stick with a uniform that I perfected over the years. I love a sexy fitted jean, a coveted band t-shirt (at the moment it’s Sleater-Kinney — gifted to me by my design director Patricia Hermogenes) with a boy fit Brooks Brother button down and my comfy white Saint Laurent sneakers. I’ll top it off with a matching denim apron that I had custom-made at Loren denim in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Do you start from the shoes and work your way up, or clothes and then down? Do the pieces you choose to wear aim to say anything specific?

I’m a creature of habit so it’s been a routine of getting the hard decisions out of the way first: THE PANTS! It’s the voice of reasoning for me.

1. Pants
2. Top
3. Shoes

And if it’s a super hard morning and I’ve maxed out every outfit decision, I’ll move on to hair and makeup and circle back to the closet.

Foolproof styling trick?

It’s an oldie but goodie. I’m a sucker for an adorable pair of socks with a heel or platform. I’m convinced it can transform any outfit. I’m a collector of hosiery. I would compare it to my Hello Kitty sticker addiction days of middle school.

The one garment that never lets you down?

My loyal friend Mr. Blue Jeans will never fail me. It’s really my staple piece that can make and never break an outfit. I am currently obsessed with these straight leg vintage jeans from Brock Collection. They remind me of a perfect pair of Levi’s 501 from the 70s.

The one that always lets you down?

Crop tops! I really should have utilized them a bit more in my 20s. Now that I’m in my 30-somethings, I feel like the crop top just mocks me and points out all my flaws and indulgences.

Your best shopping tip?

Advice from my best friend’s mother: “You only live once and spend your days working so hard — enjoy what makes you happy. ” If that means an expensive bag, go for it.

When and why did you launch your brand?

I launched Venessa Arizaga in 2010 after a long love affair with the fashion industry. I spent many years crafting my design skills and learning from designers in the fashion industry like Bryan Bradley (founder of Tuleh), Carolina Herrera and Zac Posen. These individuals made a huge mark on me in so many of the ways that I design and run my company today. After those years in fashion, I had a burning desire to develop my creative voice and venture on my own. Leaving the fashion industry was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made but truly the most rewarding. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Your favorite piece?

My favorite piece over the years is the “Get Well Necklace.” All of the pieces I’ve created are memories and notches in my life. It’s sounds super hippie-dippie but this one really stood out and helped me cope with the passing of my father. If you look closely there are different charms that reminded me of him.

1. Monkey: his Chinese astrological sign
2. Eye: he always took great care and watched out for others
3. Cookie and tooth: notorious for having the biggest sweet tooth
4. Smiley face: he was the biggest clown and could always make you smile

What does the perfect outfit look like to you?

That’s a hard one. For a while I’ve been a big fan of Delpozo. Everything from each collection is breathtaking. The pre-fall 2016 collection is a masterpiece. I’m in love with the ginormous-ly wide trouser and fringe knit. It looks like it should be hung on a wall and in a frame. Spectacular.

Shop all things in the land of Venessa Arizaga!  Follow the brand on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest; Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


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  • Stephanie

    Love the skirt details 🙂


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  • Amelia Diamond

    I love her slide 10 outfit it’s like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman meets Acne and has a cool downtown baby

    • Lua Jane

      I love the length of both skirt and dress she wears. And the contrast with the slightly edgier jackets she pairs it with. Lovely silhouette.

  • Quinn Halman

    Venessa is my absolute favourite jewelry designer. I always assumed she matched the coolness of her products and now I know

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I coveted them when we shot, and still do: her jacket and dress combos. She is so petite but stands out so much in these Duro Olowu dresses AHhhhHHhhhh dress goal x 90.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      oh and also, she works next to a chocolate place so maybe the chocolate fumes have a positive impact on her designs and dressing? Just a thought. I’m going to go get chocolate now.

  • This was truly inspirational. I need more florals in my life, that Duro Olowu dress has me popping up tabs left and right. During Chicago’s winter (today is a high of 9, feels like -13, which is warm compared to yesterday) I have to start how I dress with “How will I be able to pee?” Followed by proportioning the cold outside with well heated indoors. It’s a work in progress.

    Vanessa, may I come live in your closet or studio? Either will suffice.

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      ALSO those dresses are on sale per the links in the slideshow!

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      her studio is literally next to a chocolate factory/shop.

  • Such an interesting read, with some great tips and a gorgeous look! x

    Eva Ann || http://evaannstyle.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Adele Miner

    Love the post, just stumbled across your blog and I really like it! x

  • Liz

    Love the charm bracelet in slide 13 and the pearl bib in slide 23. It’s great seeing small, independent jewelry designers getting exposure, and this is a good ‘un!


  • Sarah

    I love her foolproof styling trick! Socks and heels! I’ve just rarely participated.. but I love it and it completely suits her!


  • Estee

    What would Sade do?