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Kate Foley: How I Shop

The New York-based Brit explains her obsession with quirky art teacher earrings, Marni skirts and hunting for designer pieces online.
Kate Foley. Photo: Mark Iantosca/Vestiaire 

Kate Foley. Photo: Mark Iantosca/Vestiaire 

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend, and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in the fashion industry with our column, "How I Shop."

It should come as no surprise that Kate Foley has a bit of a shopping obsession. The creative consultant and stylist is a favorite subject of street style photographers, and though she's often found wearing the latest "it" accessory or up and coming designer, Foley always stays true to her distinct personal aesthetic.  After being introduced to —and becoming a highly active user of — Vestiaire Collective a year ago, Foley has assumed a new role as contributing fashion director of the European-based fashion consignment site. We spoke with Foley about cleaning out her closet, waking up in the middle of the night thinking about a recent purchase and packing for fashion week. 

"Because I work in fashion, I’m constantly looking at sites and stopping by stores and looking at collections. It's kind of always on my mind — not in a crazy way, but as I come across something I love, I'll buy it. If there's something I’ve seen in a collection that I've been lusting after, and as soon as it hits the stores I know. I'll get 18 emails from different sites and I'll run there and buy it as soon as it comes up. There's no rhyme or reason, it's as I see things I fall in love with. I get obsessed with things.

I usually have an idea of what I’m looking for, like, 'Oh, I really want a blah blah sandal from 'x' designer.' A lot of times what I do is type it into Google and a million different options come up in Google Shopping or Polyvore or Shopstyle or something like that. And then I'll kind of go from there and it's the start of a journey and it leads on and on. It sucks you in and suddenly an hour has gone by. I'll go on these crazy searches for old things, usually runway items that didn’t really make it to many stores or maybe a couple did but they got snapped up straight away. I'll go on a hunt and that's why online is amazing, because it can bring up everything. I'll go through hundreds and hundreds of pairs of Prada shoes and hopefully find them. 

There's still so many things that I've been searching for, for years, that still haven’t come up. But every now and then I'll still Google and be like, 'Please!' I can’t remember what collection it was but there was a metallic Miu Miu leather jacket and it had stars, it was gold and green and silver — all these different crazy tones and literally every single look in the show had these jackets on. That is something that I have searched for for years basically, ever since that season. I actually have to say I just found that on Vestiaire. It's almost overwhelming when you find it in the end. That's why something like Vestiaire has totally changed my life because weirdly a lot of things like that have popped up. There's another one which is not even that old from Prada. In that collection where they had the fox fur stoles in the multicolors and the funky shoes, that sort of Josephine Baker-inspired collection. There was this amazing really simple strap dress with embroidered monkeys on it. It was white with green and these little sort of beads hanging off the bottom. I don’t even know if it's something that would look nice on me but I’ve been really obsessed with that. That's something I’m still searching for. 

Now that I’m working with [Vestiaire Collective], I’m on the site a lot more than I was and I was already on the site a lot. It's kind of dangerous. I had to put together picks and was looking at my list and thought, 'Actually, I really like those shoes, I’m going to get them.' 

I have managed to accumulate a lot of shoes and bags just because I love bags. I love New York City and there's not so much space and I take a lot of things to my country house — maybe things that I'll keep for another how many years or haven’t worn recently or it's not the right season. 

But then there's always tons of stuff that maybe I bought and I loved and I wore for two weeks and then I realized that actually it doesn’t really fit into my lifestyle or I saw a picture of myself and it's not so flattering.

I used to use Ebay long ago and I used to list things. It got to be too much. I don’t have time, I can barely post a letter. A friend said to me, 'You don’t even use Vestiaire?' I hadn’t heard of it before. She introduced me to Caroline who has the VIP program there. In a couple of days I had gone through my whole wardrobe and taken everything out. It is literally the easiest process in the whole entire world. I just don’t do anything, I give my things to Caroline, she takes them back to the office, she prices them, she researches online. You just sit there and I use the app on my phone and approve offers and do things but it's kind of genius because I’m just sitting there and little bits of money are getting transferred to me. I’ve become really good at editing my wardrobe now which I never did before.

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I’m almost happier to part with something than to keep hold of it. I have to watch out that I don’t get rid of everything. I feel like since I’m buying things on there and I’m also selling things, it's a nice little community. It's almost like everyone else is sharing. I finally feel like I’m in a better place in my wardrobe. I can see things, I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.

I don’t really have kind of a set style — I’m not really someone who wears jeans everyday — but I do know pretty well what kind of shape and things work for my body and what I feel comfortable in. I always wear a longish skirt, over the knee, that has a smaller waist. That's my pair of jeans. I can look smart and I can be comfortable.

I used to wear a pair of leather pants nearly every day. I can’t even imagine ever wearing it now. I feel so much more comfortable in this. I’m always buying printed, beautiful skirts. One of the actual stores I go into is Marni. It's the right length, it has interesting variations on the oversized relatively long skirt. And now I normally keep my top pretty simple — either a nice black and white top or a nicely made t-shirt and always earrings. I have an addiction to cool art teacher earrings. They're kind of interesting, funky, creative — like a Marni kind of earring. Not super traditional but big and funky. That's something I definitely buy constantly. Actually I have a really great ones from Tory Burch from their spring/summer collection last year.

I think with accessories, I have a lot more fun. I have fun with it all but I probably spend more money on accessories, fun bags in interesting and beautiful colors. Mark Cross bags — I have a weird thing. It's the perfect bag for me. I love bags that are in rich jewel tones with gold hardware. I just look at it and I think, 'I have to have that one.' So I have tons of those and then shoes as well. I’m crazy about Prada shoes, Miu Miu shoes, lots of shoes. I’m constantly buying Prada shoes partly because they are really comfortable and partly because they look amazing.

I used to be a heels person and I don't know if its because of my lifestyle now that I’m freelance, I’m running around a lot more so flats are just more comfortable. Now I really only wear heels in the evening. I'll wear a brogue in the day in the wintertime, a Marni brogue or those big crazy Stella McCartney lace shoes — I have two pairs of those, you look totally crazy and people give you really weird looks. But that's my kind of daywear and then in the summer I'll just wear sandals, like Céline. I still buy heels like crazy. I went through a stage of wearing big chunky Prada ones which I feel like I’m coming back into now.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about how a couple of weeks ago I bought these Céline sandals and they’re kind of crazy and they have huge gold buckles on them. I’ve been wearing them most days but I thought about it last night and I was like I don’t think they look very nice on me and they aren’t very flattering and it really limits what I can wear them with and they were expensive. I thought, why on earth did I buy that? I think I was searching for a sandal that was a little bit smarter and yes, I went crazy. Fashion took over and clouded my vision. They might be popping up in Vestiaire soon.

I think I’m really lucky in that a lot of the time for a bigger occasion like a big fashion event or something, I normally get to borrow things from designers which is amazing. I get to wear something super special for the night and then send it back. Weddings I’ve never been able to figure out. I have my own wedding coming up sometime next year and I have no idea what I’m going to wear for that.

I feel like I’m so confident — I can think of an outfit for most things, I can piece it together in my head with accessories and everything like that. But for some reason, just because I’ve never been one of those girls that's dreamt of her wedding her whole life, I just totally have nothing. My head is empty and it's kind of scary. I don’t really feel like I want to wear anything traditional. I think I'll probably have it made by Suno, that makes sense.

Other things like fashion week are a huge challenge because immediately after New York I fly to London and then I’m in Europe for the rest of the time, so that's a really difficult one. I borrow things and that definitely saves me. I’m not going to try on outfits before I go. I just wing it. I see other people who are so organized and must have figured it out before and laid it out and tried it on. I just physically can’t. How do you know what you’re going to be feeling that today? How I get dressed every day is an emotional thing."

This interview has been edited and condensed.