My first job was an internship in the Marc Jacobs shoe design department when I was a teenager. I worked there for four years, during my weekends and vacations throughout high school. It was both a completely normal and beautifully surreal foray into the fashion industry in that I did the kinds of things a teenager should have to do (organize a supply closet) and that no teenager should ever get to do (grease up Jessica Stam’s leg with Vaseline and wrangle it into an over-the-knee Victorian fetish boot).
One season, everyone on my team contracted a stomach virus during a visit to the shoe factory in Italy, and I was left alone with Marc to style the shoes for the imminent runway show. I scampered back and forth with trays of glittery platforms that I thought he might like until, to both my horror and amazement, the man himself asked me which shoes I would wear with his designs. Once I was able to work my voice up to an audible decibel, the two of us developed a rapport and, as was the tradition before every show, continued to dress and re-dress a patient assemblage of models until it was nearly dawn. I missed my curfew.
During my stint at the brand, I of course bore witness to some Devil Wears Prada-ish theatrics (an adult being hand-fed chicken tenders by an assistant; Spanx-fueled Met Gala panic; a harrowing pre-show prep week during which we only listened to Marilyn Manson). As a whole, however, the workplace was a rarity in that everyone took genuine pride in what they did, united by a desire to create thoughtful things of beauty. As I learned the rhythms of transforming a single idea into products, presentations and printed materials, it was a job that set me up not just to love working in fashion but to love working in general. It was the innumerable hours I spent researching costume history in the Marc offices that led me to pursue a degree in art history — a choice that defines the work I do now far more than the technical aspects of shoe design.
My conception of what constitutes personal style was incubated in the cocoon of Marc Jacobs. The distinctly Marc idea that the overtly feminine can be unfussy and casual has allowed me to dress exactly the way I want — frills and hair accessories included — for nearly a decade now. My love of Peter Pan collars, polka dots, daisies and strappy Mary Janes? All thanks to the Marc team. Even my penchant for wearing glorified underwear instead of full-fledged pants — a look I was certain I developed according to my own peculiar tastes — is undoubtedly influenced by the countless Marc models I watched stroll down the runway in bloomers and bike shorts.
This month, I plumbed the depths of both my memory and my closet to recreate said looks. I couldn’t choose a favorite season (I’m not a heartless monster, okay?!), so please shed your pants and join me on a weeklong journey through all things Marc Jacobs.
1. S/S 2019, Cupcake, Extra Frosting
If I can’t have this exact sugar-sweet organza number, I will get as close as possible by layering all things pink and fluffy. The vintage dress I have on is covered in tiny glittering daisies, an extra nod to the Marc heritage. It’s the time of the year when I’m certain that I never want to lay eyes on a pair of tights again, so I’ve added some sparkle to my legs with these Carel boots, which are kind of the innocent younger sisters of this incredible Marc pair from 2016.
2. F/W 2013, The No Pants
This look is a take on my perennial favorite outfit, a cardigan and no pants, but this time it’s been made extremely classy by the addition of a tweed jacket. I love the clash of the uptightness of the jacket with the freedom of being essentially naked from the waist down — a playful dichotomy that is the foundation of a Marc Jacobs look. I’ve added loafers instead of open-toed sandals to make this more office-appropriate. (Kidding, I did that because my sandals are still in storage).
3. F/W 2012, Sexy Puritan
Marc Jacobs’ F/W 2012 collection is perhaps my favorite body of work from any designer, ever. The season was all about the historical complexity of American style, contrasting modest Pilgrim silhouettes with the decadent opulence of fur, diamante buckles, and psychedelic prints. In high school, I compounded all of my birthday-card-cash-savings to purchase this dress from the collection at a heavily discounted sale price, and it has served me faithfully for years of holiday parties ever since. I’ve attempted to give it a more Spring-y spin here, complete with a post-Renaissance anklet.
4. F/W 2011, Double Dots
If the presence of a polka dot on nearly every Marc runway is not proof enough, allow me to present this video as evidence that the man truly loves himself some polka dots. I’ve used a beloved old Marc by Marc piece here (may the diffusion line rest in peace), but really any spotted bikini top or bra would work. I didn’t want to brag too much up front, but one of the bags from this season is named after me. If you’re ever curious, there is one sample currently located in an amazing fashion archive known as My Nana’s House.
5. 1993-Resort 2019, Grunge
When I was 15, to my very deepest dismay, my mother forced me to retake my school picture. In the original, which she very rightly refused to send out to our relatives, I was sporting a Marc Jacobs skull T-shirt so hacked with scissors that it hung off of both shoulders and a head of hair in desperate need of washing. When the brand announced the 2019 ‘Grunge Redux’ of the Perry Ellis collection that spring-launched Marc’s entire career, I was apprehensive. Having participated in the first round of grunge nostalgia, had I aged out of the second? I resolved to only return to the trend if I was positive I could remain true to my mostly-adult self along the way. This meant an emphasis on decidedly un-grunge quality fabrics (a silk skirt and bra, plush cotton socks) and a friendlier palette than the one I favored in my Saint Marks days of yore.
We are accustomed to using clothing as a measure of change from the day we are born. We outgrow things, we transform from preppy to punk and back again, we agonize over what to wear on a first date in the hopes that we may be cracking open a new chapter in the book of our lives. There is thus a strange and beautiful pleasure in noticing that some of our tastes have remained the same all along. For me, these threads of continuity form a wearable security blanket that I have come to know as my personal style. While the life I have now is different from what I had imagined it would be as a teenaged intern (equally as amazing, if a bit nerdier), I know that my younger self would be proud of the way I dress. I never want to stop impressing her. When I’m in doubt of how to do that, Marc Jacobs is there to show me.
Photos via Ruby Redstone and Vogue Runway.