Being the only femme child in my family meant that, growing up, I was provided with a great abundance of some things (hair ties) and a severe lack in others (shared closets). Sadly, I had no one to swap, steal or borrow clothes from…until I discovered the kind of friendship that is more like a sisterly bond. Upon securing my first “sisterfriend,” I gained not only companionship, but a second closet — and a person who knew me well enough to help me use it most appropriately (sometimes).
It is with this kind of sisterly sharing in mind that Leandra and her best friend Roxana dove into a styling adventure. Inspired by Nine West’s “Sole Sisters” campaign — which centers the many ways in which women support and empower each other — the duo dressed (sartorially supported?) one another in three looks. Each look features an identical pair of shoes from Nine West’s spring collection to show not only how the same pair of shoes can be worn in truly distinct ways, but how there is much to learn about yourself and your relationships through the act of styling — and sharing shoes.
Read on if you want to walk a day in not one, not two, but three pairs Roxana’s and Leandra’s shoes.
How’d you become friends?
Roxana: I think we were four … She was in a plaid and ruffle dress, I was in a leather mini skirt, and we liked the same Barbie.
Leandra: We were in the same class in pre-K, and given that both of our moms are Persian and they knew each other peripherally, we had frequent playdates even though I am *sure* she didn’t actually like me until we were post-high school.
What makes your bond sisterly?
Roxana: Our families are close and our upbringings similar; I think those roots deepen our understanding and appreciation of one another. We share a mutual ease and curiosity that makes being together feel like home.
Leandra: I don’t have a de facto sister, and she does, so this opinion comes with a grain of salt because I don’t actually know what it’s like. But I do know that she is among just two friends (which is actually a lot!) who make me feel so distinctly comfortable that I can be the worst version of myself without fearing the loss of our friendship. I used to think that sisterly friendship was defined by the ability to borrow each other’s clothing without asking (which basically we do), or by letting each other know when we look or sound terrible (which we do), or by, I don’t know, rushing over when you’re crying, but more than that, I think a true sister, like a parent, just loves you unconditionally.
How would you describe your personal style?
Roxana: Hmm…retro-western meets Japanese-minimalism?
Leandra: Like the sandwich station at a deli, because, you know, you got your bread and your lettuce and your protein, that’s all a given, and functional enough for you to eat — but how good or bad that sandwich actually becomes is wholly contingent on the accouterments and condiments that you routinely choose for seasoning.
Roxana, how would you describe Leandra’s personal style?
Roxana: French schoolgirl on the chicest runway of all time.
Leandra, how would you describe Roxana’s personal style?
Leandra: Black clothes and silver jewelry Monday to Friday, Indian prints on cotton in the desert with an exposed back and a bottle of hot sauce Sat/Sun. She also loves summer/hates everything else, but for different reasons.
How did you select the shoes for this styling adventure?
Roxana: We set our eyes on the same pair as we created each look really effortlessly. We tend to gravitate towards similar aesthetics, but the interpretation is everything.
Leandra: As a rule, I start with the shoes and work my way up, so the looks were really styled around our favorite pairs.
Fave pair for yourself? For your bestie?
Roxana: The navy satin pumps grooved the most for me — I love the minimalism of them juxtaposed with the rich color. Leandra is more playful; she would work the suede baby blues with the rhinestone strap perfectly.
Leandra: The light blue Mary Jane slingbacks were my favorite! They are cute with a capital C, even though I didn’t apply a capital C just now for knee high tights and mini skirts or, I don’t know, a white linen caftan — surprise and delight! The navy satin pumps were the best on Roxana because they aligned with her well-tempered style the most accurately.
Have you ever swapped, stolen or borrowed each others’ clothes?
Roxana: When we lived together, our closets in our closet-sized Paris apartment made sharing a daily occurrence. Now her closet is like a chest of wonders she is super generous with.
Leandra: Have we ever! We studied abroad together in Paris, and after a certain point there was just no use in separating our clothes by different closets. By the end of the semester, I think we respectively forgot what belonged to whom. It’s different now because we don’t live together and I’m married, so the extent to which she can just drop in unannounced has been compromised, but she still borrows mostly caftans and, like, tops with open backs, from time to time.
What about shoes?
Roxana: She’s a tiny size, but there’s a dreamy pair of cowboy boots from her swollen pregnancy!
Leandra: Roxana has incredible feet in that she can basically wear any size between a 6 and an 8. I am a steadfast size 6, so rarely fit into her shoes aside from the occasional size 7 pump, but she has borrowed and stolen a few pairs from me! I can recall a specific size 8 pair of boots that I got while I was pregnant because my feet got so swollen that she dutifully swiped immediately postpartum.
What’s something you admire about the other’s style?
Roxana: Her playfulness with color, unexpected pairings and proportions.
Leandra: How comfortable she is committing to a singular color palette or silhouette.
Roxana, what was the experience of styling Leandra like?
Roxana: Like having the perfect canvas.
Leandra, what was the experience of styling Roxana like?
Leandra: UTTER HIGH SCHOOL ENVY REGARDING HOW DAMN COOL SHE LOOKED. Also, though, I felt a little like I was dressing a doll to look like me, which was weird because styling another person is not the same as dressing another person to look like you, which is a weird and narcissistic thing to do to someone else! I suppose it occurred to me that I’m not an empathetic stylist to the extent that she resisted a lot of what I wanted her to wear but I made her wear it anyway. I do, however, maintain that she wore great outfits.
Roxana, what did you learn about Leandra?
Roxana: I think we were both surprised by her inability to relinquish complete control over how she looked and felt throughout (i.e., refusal to wear a turban). That and she has no sympathy for my aversion to: bows, peter pan collars and top-buttoned blouses.
Leandra, what did you learn about Roxana?
Leandra: I generally admire the way in which she yearns for a relaxed or simplistic approach towards living her life and getting the shit that she needs to do done, but I think her relationship with fashion and the way she styles herself (and the way she styled me) are reflective of that simplistic, one-and-done (tank top with shorts), in-and-out (sheer skirt with green jacket that I recommended we button up and wear as top), just-make-it-work-and-move-on (purple blouse, yellow pants) approach. There were so few layers! For the most part, she was also not particularly combative when I had her dressed, though she did voice concern over one particular neon windbreaker and a sweater that I fashioned into a spring scarf over a blue-and-white polka dot shirt styled with jeans, so I appreciated her willingness to step into my brain. She’s compassionate.
What did you learn about yourself throughout this process?
Roxana: My particularity surrounding details that are without reason — I like what I like.
Leandra: I have a really hard time relinquishing control over my appearance. I have always known this. I hate to feel unlike myself in clothes that don’t reflect an accurate portrayal of me, but given that I so often doubt myself or say that I’m “just not sure,” I was surprised to learn that actually, that’s not true at all. I’m almost always sure. What I am really saying, possibly, is “agree with me!” So that’s my next book of self-improvement work to plow through. It also took me all of five minutes to get her looks together, which possibly underlines this sureness.
Most surprising takeaway from this experience?
Roxana: While we always appreciate and gravitate towards so many of the same pieces, how we interpret them is completely different. I hadn’t realized how defined personal style is so much a part of a unique narrative — voice, walk, essence.
Leandra: There’s a surprise in every one of the above answers! Take your pick.
Photos by Edith Young. Makeup by Regard Tang.