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6 Women on How Fashion Changed Their Friendships
03.22.18

In partnership with THEOUTNET.COM

Style, in its best and most engaging form, isn’t simply an inner monologue — it’s a conversation. This has never been clearer to me than when talking about style with a friend. Whether we’re texting each other links to stuff we want to buy or standing in front of a full-length mirror in a cramped dressing room with jeans bunched around our ankles, the experience of unpacking my aesthetic proclivities with someone who gets why I dress the way I do because she gets me is precisely what keeps clothes fun.

In celebration of that, Man Repeller rounded up three pairs of pals (myself and Haley included) to play dress-up in pieces from THE OUTNET and share our perspectives on style through the ever-illuminating lens of friendship. Read our answers, peep our outfits and meet us in the comments for further discussion (plus a special MR-only discount code, valid through Sunday, so you and your friends can dress up too!).


Haley and Harling

How did your friendship spark?

Harling: On a cold, rainy morning in April 2016, I decided to take a cab from my apartment to the Man Repeller office because it was so miserable outside. As I pulled up, I noticed a girl standing on the corner of Mott Street under an umbrella. I remember thinking to myself, Wow, she has such fun style. That girl turned out to be Haley.

Even though we sat two feet away from each other from the get-go, it took some time for us to become good friends (i.e., not just work friends but legitimate “I want to hang out with you over the weekend” friends). The way I got to know Haley, at least at first, was through her writing. She is such an extraordinary writer, with the unique ability to inscribe so much of herself, her sense of humor and her way of looking at the world into each and every sentence. The more I read, the more I wanted to know her.

Haley: When I walked into the office on my first day at Man Repeller, Harling announced that she’d just seen me on the street and had admired my outfit, not knowing who I was. Given how nervous I was to be there and how much I’d belabored my outfit, her words were like a hug. In hindsight, this start to our friendship was very fitting. Over the past couple of years, our relationship has deepened to include much weightier topics — I can’t think of one we haven’t covered — but it still maintains a pleasant, chit-chatty cadence, maybe because we sit close together, work together and grab lunch together five days a week. It feels nice and also rare to see a friend every day.

How would you describe your own style?

Harling: Maximalist with a side of “I just want to be comfortable.”

Haley: I usually play with layering simple, structured items — trousers, jeans, turtlenecks, sneakers, T-shirts. I’m less into flowy, silky, patterned stuff. I’m more of a color-blocker than a pattern-clasher — and I mention that only because it’s probably the chief difference between Harling’s style and my style.

How would you describe each other’s style?

Harling: Haley’s style leans more androgynous (Levi’s jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, black trousers, oversized puffers, sneakers) but is occasionally punctuated by what I personally and privately refer as “dolled-up delights” (rosy cheeks and red lips, pilgrim loafers, gold hoops, pink pants, white blazers). She has a true talent for wearing the same article of clothing numerous ways (one time she wore a jacket as an apron and I regret to report it looked incredible). No matter what, she is always distinctly herself underneath the clothes.

Haley: Harling’s style is whimsical and eclectic. Seeing her outfits every day is a continuous surprise and delight. She loves to play with funky patterns and fabrics and create unexpected silhouettes. In other words, her comfort zone is much broader than mine. But that’s not to say she’s all over the place; she has very specific and distinct taste, too, which is a hard balance to strike. Her style is a great conduit for her personality, which is equally colorful and delightful, if not more so.

What’s a fashion-related memory that reminds you of each other?

Harling: I have two. The first is when Haley showed up at the office in the middle of August wearing an enormous down puffer jacket and I enthusiastically weather-shamed her. She ended up essay-shaming me for weather-shaming in a subsequent story titled, “It’s Time to Put a Stop to Weather-Shaming,” but I stand by my initial outrage.

The second is when Haley asked me to style her for a story about knee-high boots. I picked out a satisfying lineup of skirts and dresses, but she requested that one of the outfits involve trousers. I was petrified about the prospect of baggy fabric billowing over the boots like houndstooth muffin tops, but I begrudgingly complied.

Lo and behold, two months later, baggy trousers tucked into knee-high boots were EVERYWHERE during fashion week. Conclusion: I should always listen to Haley.

Haley: I’m constantly running things by Harling. I trust her taste implicitly. The first mutual fashion memory that comes to mind is the “side project” (lol) we’ve been working on wherein we wear the same garment styled in our own distinct ways. My favorite so far was when we wore matching pink corduroy suits to work. Not sure what we’ll do next, but I would happily continue this project forever because I just love to be twins in general.

How have both of your styles evolved in the time since you’ve known each other?

Harling: Haley’s sense of personal style has become more and more solidified throughout the time I’ve known her. Last year, she went through a phase where she was cutting up all her clothing (going rogue and hemming jeans with scissors, mostly), which in retrospect was probably a side effect of the transition she was making to a place of confidence in what she likes to wear and why.

Mine’s definitely gotten weirder (in a good way). Working at Man Repeller gives me so much license for creativity, and I’m constantly coming up with ideas for how I want to dress through what I do day to day, whether I’m styling a shoot or conducting market research for a shopping newsletter. Sometimes I end up hating my outfits, and other times I love them so much I take an embarrassing number of mirror selfies. The process of trial and error is something I’ve come to enjoy, though. Most of the time.

Haley: When I first met Harling, my style was more vintage-tee-and-ripped-jeans. There’s still some of that in me (I live in Bushwick and that’s the prevailing vibe there), but working at MR has definitely helped me narrow my focus and find a style that feels “me” instead of just “the neighborhood I live in.” When I first met Harling, her style was still really fun and weird, but I think it’s gotten even funkier since. Man Repeller does that to a person.


Evan and Imani

How did your friendship spark?

Imani: Evan and I met through work (we’re both showroom editors at Glossier). The funny thing is, we go to the same school, and although she had caught my eye a few times around campus, we never actually spoke until we started working together. We really got to know each other by working Glossier’s back-to-back pop-ups in Dallas and London. Now we see each other about once a week, whether we’re crossing paths at work or school or making off-campus plans to hang out.

Getting to know Evan has been invaluable because she’s someone I can deeply relate to. We’re both young black women navigating predominantly white spaces with big, creative dreams. Even though we have shared countless career-related tips, it’s also worth mentioning that we have a lot of fun together — we’re really silly (debatably hilarious) in a spectrum of ways, constantly exchanging childlike faces, sophisticated sarcastic remarks and everything in between. Somehow, Evan and I are always thinking about the same thing. It’s so gratifying to have someone in my life who is equally interested in pondering, obsessing over and laughing about all the things I’m dying to talk about.

Evan: We’d see each other more if not for our busy schedules. In between Imani writing her thesis, working at Man Repeller and Glossier, and launching her modeling career, it can be tough to find time! We always seem to run into each other on the street, though, or she’ll somehow spot me in a nondescript classroom to distract me through the window. Imani has a way of making everyone around her feel special and always makes sure to tell me about the cool things she’s doing on the weekend so I can tag along like her lame little sister.

Though I love all my friends regardless of race or gender, I do think, as a black woman, it is important to have black women in my life to uplift me and to confide in. Imani and I are constantly supporting each other and each other’s goals. Our aspirations have no bounds, and we each want nothing more than to see the other succeed.

How would you describe your own style?

Imani: As much as it makes me cringe to admit it, my style is pretty “trendy.” I was quick to hop on skinny sunglasses and berets, and I just ordered a pair of opaque colored tights (thanks, Harling and Haley!). Keeping up with what’s fresh gives me a lot of freedom. I never get bored while getting dressed because I enjoy fully committing to a new look. I often gravitate toward early-2000s party-girl ensembles when I’m going out in New York, like a printed mesh top, a baguette handbag and patent booties. During spring break this year, I went to the Dominican Republic and exclusively wore billowy tops, light-wash denim and net bags. In general, I must admit I have a strong affinity for athleisure-inspired looks. I’m a sucker for cool kicks and hoodies. As you might be able to tell, my style is a little all over the place.

Evan: I always have the hardest time describing my style because I’ll throw on anything that I think is cute. One day, I’ll look like a punk wannabe and the next, a grandma en route to a tropical vacation. I think as I get older, I have started to hone in on more of what I actually like as opposed to what’s “in.” For the past year, my style has been pretty consistently influenced by the ’70s. I almost exclusively wear wide-leg jeans, turtlenecks and pointed-toe boots or Nike Cortez sneakers. I usually stick to earthy tones during the day, but whenever I’m going out or doing something other than going to class, I love wearing super-bright, almost off-putting colors and wild patterns.

How would you describe each other’s style?

Imani: Evan’s style is straightforward yet sensual, a combination that really speaks to core aspects of who she is: honest, instantly likable and passionate.

Evan: Imani’s style reflects her personality to a T. She knows herself well and is unapologetic about who she is and everything she does. She’s strong and unafraid to be seen or heard. Her bold and bright style captures all of that. She’s constantly experimenting, buying amazing shoes and glasses I would never even think to consider. She doesn’t shy away from what’s “weird” or “different,” as long as it’s true to herself.

What’s a fashion-related memory that reminds you of each other?

Imani: While working the Glossier pop-up in London, Evan and I, along with a few other girls, tried to have a real “night out on the town.” As Glossier girls do, we all wore very minimal makeup (no eyeliner, a smidgen of lip gloss, perhaps some highlighter or blush) paired with cool jeans, some form of a going-out top and black booties.

We thought we looked great, as this is a pretty standard night-out aesthetic for all of us in New York, but apparently it isn’t for Londoners. We looked like actual 12-year-olds standing next to the local club-goers, who were rocking full faces of makeup, party dresses and stilettos. It came as no surprise that we didn’t get into the club, but Evan and I took it as a fun sartorial reminder that less is not always more.

Evan: My favorite shopping memory with Imani is when we went thrifting in London. Before our work day started, Imani and I decided we would go to one of the thrift stores nearby during our hour-long break. The combination of traffic, rain, protests and our shared inability to be on time for anything meant that we were soon running far behind schedule, but we stuffed ourselves into a cab with two other girls and headed to our destination anyway.

When we finally reached the store, we quite literally had five minutes to shop. We ran through the aisles, picking at the patterns that drew our eyes and the fabrics that felt nice in our hands. It was speed-shopping to the extreme, and I somehow ended up with a vintage faux fur hat and leather purse I still wear today. On our way back from the store, we made the cab pull over in the gridlock traffic so we could run through the rain in order to get back to the Glossier pop-up before our break ended. Our great finds made the whole trip worth it, not to mention our moments of bonding over the chaos.

How have both of your styles evolved in the time since you’ve known each other?

Imani: Evan has taught me how to appreciate the beauty in individual items, rather than simply seeing them as components of a look. She really knows how to accentuate special pieces, like her Maryam Nassir Zadeh mules.

Evan: To be honest, I think my style has been more influenced by Imani’s than hers has been by mine. I am constantly asking where she got her amazing accessories, shoes and shirts, and I have found so many brands through her. Because of Imani, I am more open to taking risks. I wear bolder clothes, I show more skin and I am learning to embrace accessories. I’ve started buying unusual sunglasses, layering on necklaces and trying shoes I would have never glanced at before. She’s taught me that fashion is a powerful conduit for making statements and being seen.


Vanessa and Andrea

How did your friendship spark?

Vanessa: Andrea and I met at a MoMA summer concert in the sculpture garden during one of those incredibly hot and humid New York City summer afternoons. As I chatted with her about her recent move from Sydney to New York, I found myself developing a friend crush. I loved her style, which I would describe as Jane-Birkin-meets-California-girl with an air of European sophistication (she is Czech).

We used to see each other a lot when I lived in Williamsburg. We lived three blocks away from each other, and our coffee shop was next to my apartment, so she would text me on her way there and I would come downstairs and chat, even if it was just for 10 minutes. I live in the city now and really miss our impromptu rendezvous. We probably see each other once every other week, sometimes more often depending on our crazy schedules.

Andrea: I didn’t have hot water for few days when I first moved, so I asked Vanessa if I could shower at her place. That’s when we started to hang out regularly. She showed me around Williamsburg and it became a thing.

We turn our meet-ups into proper occasions now, like when we watched the Winter Olympics together. We were both so obsessed! Small shared interests like that are definitely integral to our friendship, but also the fact that we can rely on each other when it comes to the “big” stuff. We talk about so many different topics, be it design, politics, technology or relationships.

How would you describe your own style?

Vanessa: I have no idea how I’d describe my style! Some days I want to look like Princess Diana, some nights I want to look like Rihanna — it really depends on my mood.

Andrea: My style is minimal and almost uniform. Jeans and a white button-down shirt are my go-to, but I like to spice things up with a nice pair of shoes or a handbag. Sometimes I look at my clothes and think that everything is a copy of another piece, with slight variations. I love Mari Giudicelli’s mules and heeled ballerinas by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, ideally paired with vintage Levi’s or a skirt that falls below the knees.

How would you describe each other’s style?

Vanessa: Andrea’s style is very boy-meets-girl, which I love, but I would kill to see her in something a bit sexy — it’s so not her!

Andrea: Vanessa is like a chameleon. She can rock Doc Marten boots with skinny black jeans, a feminine dress from Reformation, a Victorian blouse or a black mini-dress. That’s what I admire about her: her willingness to experiment with fabrics, colors and patterns while still looking very classic. Vanessa is one of those people who makes sweatpants look so cool you want to buy the exact same pair.

What’s a fashion-related memory that reminds you of each other?

Vanessa: Andrea used to work at the best vintage store in Williamsburg — a small boutique close to Bedford Avenue. When I visited her, she would always make tea and play some obscure Australian music and we would play with all the clothes.

Andrea: I own a couple of blouses from Shumaq (Vanessa’s clothing line) that I purchased immediately after seeing Vanessa wear hers. I receive so many compliments whenever I wear one, and it feels amazing to say, “Thank you, my friend designed it.”

How have both of your styles evolved in the time since you’ve known each other?

Vanessa: I don’t think our styles have changed too much, though come to think of it, I was wearing a fake septum-nose-ring the day I met her.

Andrea: I’ve made numerous attempts to emulate Vanessa’s style, but somehow I can never quite pull it off. That being said, she’s inspired me to dress in a more feminine way and add color to my closet. Every time I’m at her apartment, I always take a sneak peek in her closet for inspiration.


As a special treat, THE OUTNET is offering Man Repeller readers 30% off all orders with code TAKE30, now through Sunday. See terms and conditions below and then tell us what you bought!

Terms and conditions: This offer expires at 10:59 a.m. EST on Monday, March 26th, 2018 and is valid on THE OUTNET’s U.S. site only. Excludes Just In. Unlimited code usage per customer. No threshold applied. Can be used in conjunction with free shipping, cannot be used in conjunction with other % or $ off promotions. Need help? Contact customercare@theoutnet.com.

Photos by Edith Young at Brigitte. Makeup by Michael Chua

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