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 tasked to write an intro for Brooke Shields, where does one even begin? Honestly, does she even need one?
After all, Shields is renowned with so many titles: headline-making teenage movie idol, Ivy League graduate (Princeton class of '87, thank you very much), Broadway triple threat and TV star. She's done sitcoms, like "Suddenly Susan" and "Lipstick Jungle," guested on faves, from "Jane the Virgin" to "Law & Order: SVU" and hosted "The Today Show" and "The Talk."
Of course, there's also Shields's legendary fashion cred as one of the O.G. supermodels; her tagline for Calvin Klein jeans remains evergreen and she's covered Paris, American and Italian Vogues. Shields has worked — and become friends — with some of the most celebrated designers in the business and pushed the sartorial envelope on the red carpet over the the past four decades.
These days, Shields is making her own high fashion brand accessible to everyone through her Brooke Shields Timeless QVC Collection. The line of apparel and accessories is priced between approximately $35 to $150-plus and runs from size 00 to 28W.
"I wanted to take staples that I've had in my wardrobe — that I've kept over the years and loved — and put that into these deliveries," says the fashion icon, who is gearing up to celebrate the line's one-year anniversary with an on-air appearance on March 14.
Maybe it's the Kondo-mania gripping the nation, but Shields is finally — and reluctantly — starting to purge her designer treasures, as she'll explain below. But warning: The descriptions of her '80s gems may cause a vintage-obsessive to temporarily black out.
"My style has been absolutely all over the place because, as a model, you just spend your time making other people's designs what they want them to look like. You don't necessarily cultivate your own style and it wasn't really until recently that I just started saying, 'you know, that's not me.' A lot of it has to do with designing of my line for QVC. Now I can honestly be much more confident about what I would wear in my real life.
I try to channel a classic sense of timelessness into the collection. I'll look at Jackie Onassis or Princess Diana, the people that I looked to as fashion icons growing up and thought had unbelievably chic styles. I like taking the silhouettes of those and adding something a little fun or a little crazy, whether it's the shoe or something about it with a twist. So it doesn't ever get old fashioned. It can still feel current.
I can take a great pair of denim and if I put the right little cute flat pointy shoe, it's going to elevate it. I'll put a Chanel-esque — it doesn't have to be Chanel — but a Chanel-like jacket over jeans and a little flat and then I feel like I'm dressing to fit my lifestyle, my age and my preference. I get into trouble when I try to look like other people that I noticed. That's when I go awry.
Really anytime I put Victoria Beckham on, I feel sexy, I feel current. Everything from one of her dresses to a beautiful tuxedo, but I can wear it with sneakers and a t-shirt and feel chic and comfortable. I love wearing leather leggings and a big oversize sweater. I just got a beautiful Celine sweater from a photoshoot and it was on sale. Because now I just wait until everything hits sale. Because everything's just so expensive. It's crazy.
I used to keep everything — absolutely everything. My mother kept everything. I kept everything and then I had the, 'oh I'll fit into it one day; it's too small,' or, 'oh, it's too big, but I'll get it tailored.' In fact, just as you were being connected to me, my stylist was leaving because I called her and I said, 'you have to come over to my house and be brutal if haven't worn it in however many years and it's not fabulous.'
I have a bunch of archive items that I finally am just taking out of my closet and putting in a separate place. I've now just started to absolutely get rid of things if it doesn't have an extreme sentimental value or a piece of fashion history, like Calvin Klein jeans or something that Valentino gave me in the '80s. If it doesn't have one of those qualities, I will just sell it.
I always pass it over through my kids first. Because if something is really sparkly, my younger daughter [age 12] will want it, so I have one section of stuff for her. My older one [age 16] has no interest in any of my stuff, other than if I get something super, super sporty. If I get a cool sweatshirt, like a cool cropped sweatshirt, it doesn't stay in my closet anyway. She's got it on her back. I'll save the vintage Puccis for my younger daughter and she'll love them and want them. But all of the Calvin — the denim, the belts, the flat boots — that stuff has such an iconic element to it. That to me is emotional in a really lovely way.
Whenever I have worked with stylists, they're always amazed that I don't have more. I think it's different now with social media and posting and fashion. When I was younger, [designers] didn't give you anything. If anything, the clothes had big holes in the back of them because they didn't want people stealing them. We weren't given anything.
I borrowed and just gave it all back. So the stuff that I had, either my mom would say, 'we are not giving these jeans back,' or we would try to put something in the contract. But with people like Perry Ellis — god bless him — he gave me things and [Mitsuhiro] Matsuda gave me things. But it was a very, very different era. I have Saint Laurent and I literally just picked up a beautiful Bill Blass gorgeous, gorgeous dress from the early '80s. I'm not going to wear it again, but I'm not quite sure what to do with it.
So I have it in an archive section and, who knows, but maybe someone will say: 'we'll have an exhibit.' I'll keep it and decide something productive to do with it if my kids don't want anything to do with it. There's just so much you can keep hanging onto. There were a lot of pieces today and I just thought, 'someone can enjoy this. Let someone enjoy this. It's beautiful and a gorgeous designer, but it's just not right for me.'
Instead of saving them for some potential moment in my life that never seems to arrive, I would rather sell 10 pieces and get an amazing Alaïa kick-ass something. That's where I am now in my relationship to fashion."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.