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How I Shop: Molly Dickson

The celebrity stylist shares her shopping secrets.
Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

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 our column "How I Shop."

When you spend almost all of your waking hours finding clothing for and styling people for a living, sometimes the last thing you want to do is shop for yourself. "I'm just so busy that shopping for me is the last priority," says Molly Dickson, who worked under Leslie Fremar for over six years before breaking out on her own to style breakout stars like Katherine Langford of "13 Reasons Why" and Sadie Sink from "Stranger Things." "I'm more shopping for my clients."

Still, the New York-based stylist and Botkier Style Ambassador, whose jobs often inform her personal style, has picked up a trick or two after a decade working in fashion. She's a huge proponent of high-low dressing and, as she occasionally reveals to her Instagram followers, has a true knack for that whole "effortless chic" thing (which is exactly how she describes her own style). Given that her job entails constant travel and physical labor, she's a pro at marrying style with function, too. 

Read on to learn more about Dickson's shopping habits, including her favorite source for vintage Levi's, how she discovers new brands and the ways in which her job impacts her own purchases.

"My job is very on-the-go. I'm always on a plane or going to back-to-back appointments and I'm going from fitting to fitting, so comfort is very key. My go-to outfit that I wear almost every day would be vintage Levi's or black yoga pants with a white tee — a Hanes x Karla or an old Hanes T-shirt that I stole from my dad — then I pair it with something kind of rough, like the Botkier moto boots. If I'm traveling, I throw on a big cashmere black sweater and a long, gray Prada coat. I'm a huge advocate for high-low fashion. Mixing a really amazing Prada coat with a Hanes T-shirt — I think there's something really cool about that. I try to be comfortable because I'm moving around and I'm doing a lot of manual labor, like lifting garment bags and moving racks. I don't remember the last time I wore high heels. I pretty much always wear black moto boots.

I love Kate Moss's style. I'm really into '90s fashion — it's cool, edgy, effortless, very model-off-duty. I also love Ali MacGraw in the late '60s/early '70s. 'Love Story' is one of my favorite movies and I love her whole wardrobe in the movie: turtlenecks, high-waisted jeans, no makeup. Very raw, clean and effortless.

I think Instagram plays a major role in sourcing new designers and brands. When you're just scrolling through [the feed] quickly, you might spot something that you really like and click on it, and it brings you to a brand you've never heard of. As a stylist, it is my job to source cool, new brands and trends, and I think Instagram allows that to happen much easier than before. If I see a cool shirt from a small designer, I can DM them and just start the conversation that way. Whereas before, you had to search online and you might not get the right email — it's just so much easier to communicate now.

Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

Some of my favorite stores... I'm really into vintage, like rock 'n' roll tees, so I love The Vintage Twin in New York, What Goes Around Comes Around, Resurrection Vintage in New York, Decades in LA, The RealReal. I feel like the older that I get, the more frugal I've become. I used to spend so much money trying to follow trends, then would only wear something once or twice. Now I shop way less and I spend more on the items that I know are staples. I found a really amazing pair of Chanel pants on RealReal for like $120. You just have to be patient and find the time to filter through the website, then you can find some really amazing things. Botkier is also one of my favorite brands. I did a shoot with them a little over a year ago. The Vintage Twin, they have the best vintage Levi's. They have an eye for looking at your body and giving you the perfect style.

I go to Net-a-Porter and Forward by Elyse Walker pretty much everyday just sourcing things. I would say the website I go to most is, just to look at the runway shows and stay up-to-date on what's going on on the runway. I do think Net-a-Porter and Elyse Walker are the most exceptionally curated mix of the top designers.

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I don't even know who has time to shop in stores anymore! Online is just so much more convenient: You can order multiple sizes, it comes right to your house, you don't have to wait in line and FedEx can pick up what doesn't work. You're not dealing with bad lighting in the dressing room. If I do have the time, I like to make shopping more of an experience — like if my girlfriends are going, we can make an activity of it, like grab a coffee and go shop around. Unfortunately, this past year I've been so busy with work that I haven’t really been able to do that.

I'm from a farm in North Dakota and we had no luxury stores there; I think the nearest store was 40 miles away and I think it was a Marshall's. But right after college, I moved to New York and I interned at Gucci in the PR department and my first big splurge after the internship — I called my parents and was like, 'I worked so hard, I'm getting a Gucci bag.' It was such a big deal to me because I'd never had a high-end designer bag before.

Before, I used to shop very sporadically and impulsively. Now I feel like I'm just so busy that shopping for me is the last priority. I'm more shopping for my clients or an ad shoot, so it kind of works in a way that when I am shopping for a job, I will then see something that I like... I'll be like, okay, I need to get it, I've been working hard and I deserve it.

I feel like my clients, the girls that I work with, they all have a sense of coolness about them. I think that it's an organic fit because their style and my style are very cohesive, so when I am pulling for them or I am shopping for them, I'm also looking up things for them that I think that I would like, because if I like them, I know that they'll like them.

Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

Photo: Courtesy of Botkier

I started my career as an assistant at Marie Claire and I felt the need to dress up and do my hair and makeup every morning. Now I'm just running around: I'm on a plane, I'm going from fitting to fitting. I don’t have the time to really focus on myself. I'm trying to make all my clients look really beautiful, so I feel like now it's not a priority for me. I'm just dressing for comfort. So when I do dress up, I feel like it's a very special moment. 

[For a special occasion] I would just go back to Net-a-Porter and Elyse Walker. If you're going to a wedding and you don't want to drop $2,000 on a gown, there are rental places that I use sometimes for my girls for fittings. The one I love is called Albright Fashion Library. There's one in New York, one in Beverly Hills and one in LA — it's this beautiful mansion. You walk in and it's on a hill overlooking LA and there's tons and tons of racks to go through and you can rent a dress for a few days. They have dresses; they have gowns; they have suiting; they have shoes; they have handbags. You do have to make an appointment ahead of time, but they have a very wide selection of formal attire. As a stylist, I would never drop $5,000 on a dress I'm going to wear once when I could either rent it or borrow it from a designer.

My sister got married in December and I completely forgot that I needed to get a dress for the wedding. Three days before I was like, oh my God, I have nothing to wear to her wedding and I don't have time to go shopping. I just emailed Oscar de la Renta and said, 'Can I please borrow a gown?' I've had a relationship with them for the past nine years and they sent me a few gowns and I ended up wearing one to the wedding. That is definitely a perk of building relationships with these designers.

I used to hold onto everything in fear that I would one day want it, but I'm now trying to live a simpler life. If I know that I'm not gonna wear something within the upcoming year, I will get rid of it. I would never get rid of staples though. I give a lot away to The RealReal or Poshmark. The RealReal is just so convenient; they'll come to your apartment and pick it up rather than listing it on Ebay or something like that."

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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