How I Shop: Sara and Erin Foster

The sisters discuss their least favorite trends, keeping their closets uncluttered and their "conservative-sexy" style goals.
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Erin Foster (L) and Sara Foster (R). Photo: Steve Granitz/Contributor

Erin Foster (L) and Sara Foster (R). Photo: Steve Granitz/Contributor

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."

They might be sisters, but besides their shared beachy, blonde hair, Sara and Erin Foster couldn't look more like polar opposites sitting next to each other. Sara is relaxed and casual in a light blue floral, off-the-shoulder top and a pair of jeans, tucking her bare feet into the couch as she chats. Erin, in a belted, sunflower-yellow dress, a brown duster jacket and slinky gold heels, is straightforward and to-the-point, leaning forward intently as she speaks. 

But style differences aside, both sisters share a wicked sense of humor, which has helped them navigate the fraught world of the rich, beautiful and famous, as well as the reality television that documents it — something Sara and Erin have always been in close proximity with, given their web of connections. Try to keep up: After divorcing their mom, model Rebecca Dyer, their father, Grammy-winning musician David Foster, married Linda Thompson after her divorce from Caitlyn Jenner, making Brody and Brandon Jenner the Foster sisters' stepbrothers. Foster and Thompson then divorced, and Foster got remarried to Yolanda Hadid, making Gigi, Bella and Anwar the step-siblings of Sara and Erin until Foster and Hadid divorced in 2017. 

Despite their proximity to a number of shows, the sisters skipped out on more traditional on-camera time. Instead, they used their cheeky humor to parody the reality television world in "Barely Famous," their VH1 faux-reality show in which cameras follow the two sisters during their quasi-celebrity escapades. Since the show ended in 2016, Sara and Erin have stayed out of the on-screen world — real or faux — and have turned their attention toward their role as heads of creative at Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. The sisters have also collaborated with Sub_Urban Riot to create a collection of T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants with phrases on them, like "Alpha Female" and "Favorite Daughter."

Tucked away in a hotel room on a rainy New York morning, miles and miles away from their sunny Los Angeles base, Sara and Erin chatted about their takes on trends they vehemently avoid, the joys and convenience of online shopping and how they keep their closets clear of clutter, all in their signature sense of humor.

Sara: My style has evolved over time, but the common thread through it all has been comfort. I know it probably doesn't look like it right now in this top, but I've always gravitated toward things that make me feel [comfortable]. Even in high school, I would be in baggy overalls with a cute top underneath. It's really hard for me to put something on that makes me feel like I'm not myself because it changes my whole mood.

I've moved into a conservative, preppy thing, which is why I wear a lot of turtlenecks. Erin likes to say I have mom style, which isn't a compliment necessarily, but I am a mom. I would say comfortable-chic is my go-to.

Erin: In my 20s, I always thought that I needed to make a statement with my clothes. I always needed to stand out. Looking back, I regret that, and I wish I had just been more comfortable wearing classic pieces. Now that I'm more comfortable in my own skin, and I'm in my thirties, I just want something I can wear a lot that's a flattering color and an easy shape. I don't like to buy things I can only wear once, so I try not to buy any statement pieces [that are] too loud. I like to have a masculine-feminine combination; I'll try to mix feminine florals with a structured collar or cool boots. 

I never really wear a hard trend. Sara loves to hit a trend three or four years late. She'll be like, "You know what's really in? Gingham," and I'm like, "Uh, welcome to eight years ago." Sara just started wearing headbands this week, and she's decided that's her new look. I think that's very Chanel, like, two years ago, you know? Sara hits a trend — she just hits it when it's not trending.

S: I also start trends. I was wearing Uggs and headbands in high school.

E: I don't know if that's something to brag about — wearing those. Sara [wore] the bad fashion first.

S: The things is, the way you look, how you present yourself out in the world is sort of people's first impression of you. I always struggle with that and wanting to feel comfortable, thinking, "Oh, gosh, if I'm in these sweats at the preschool, moms are gonna think I'm not on top of my game."

E: Or on sleeping pills.

S: But I for sure embrace a trend. The latest trend I've followed is the off-the-shoulder man shirts. 

E: A white button-up with structure [that] goes fully off the shoulder. She's really into that. Sara's also really into a peplum, and I'm not into that at all — so weird, but she has no waist.

S: I'll tell you the trends we've never conformed [to]: I'm really not into the rich look. I'm not into fur with big, oversized glasses. I think the clothes are wearing you at that point. You really don't show your style. I love the '50s for fashion. I love a pencil skirt with a fitted blazer jacket and a headpiece. It's weird. Really, if I could go back to that era, I would kill that [it].

E: She missed her calling as a Stepford Wife. I miss the '90s — like, thigh-highs and Doc Martens.

S: It's coming back.

E: I know, it's cool. [During the '90s] I was in sixth grade and wasn't adventurous enough, but I wanted to dye my hair pink. But, oh my god, in my 30s, I can't wear Doc Martens and thigh-highs.

S: You absolutely can. That is what's happening now. My eight-year-old will be wearing Doc Martens.

E: Okay, I'll just shop with her.

S: We also never got into the little, itty-bitty sunglasses. [Erin's] not into statement sunglasses.

E: Oh, hell, no. I've got [a pair of] boxy Ray-Bans, and it just blends in. It's not making a big statement.

S: This fanny-pack [trend of] wearing it over your chest — this is crazy.

E: We don't deal with the urban-streetwear-on-white-girls-thing. We don't play with that. We know we're from Malibu. We're not trying to change anyone's mind on that.

S: I follow a lot of fashionable girls on Instagram, and I'm in awe [of them]. But we've peeked behind the curtain, and now we know that a lot of these girls have street-style stylists, which is such a bummer to find out. But I'm really in awe of people who know how to put clothes together — it's an art form.

I love Lauren Santo Domingo. She's like the Carolyn Bessette-[Kennedy] of our generation — that timeless, classic [look]. Everything she puts on is chic. She never shows too much skin, ever, but manages to look so sexy. There's nothing wrong with showing off [your body] — we won't have these bodies forever, right? But she's such a reminder that you don't need to show a lot of skin to be sexy.

E: We also like Dasha Zhukova — she's the founder of Garage [Magazine]. She's got great style.

S: We always say if we could have anyone's closet, it would be hers. The common thread between [Domingo and Zhukova] is they're a little more conservative. It's like conservative-sexy. Eva Chen is also always cool. She's a different style.

E: Our favorite brands are Aritzia and Reformation. It's kind of standard and basic.

S: It's also affordable.

E: When you have a wedding to go to, you [go] to Reformation to spend $200 on a dress and it's at your house the next day.

S: If it's not Reformation, it's $500 or $600 somewhere else to get a nice dress that you can wear out in the world.

E: I'm also really into Cushnie. Anine Bing has started to really make a name [for herself] — she's got really great sweaters. Dasha also has great sweaters. I have a sweater obsession. It's all I wear, and I get made fun of for it. I've had guys not want to go out with me anymore because I wear too many sweaters. It's a turn-off — but that's a whole other story. Sara really embraced the beachiness of L.A., and I've always wanted to be cozy in front of a fireplace in the woods. I just was born in the wrong place.

S: Well, I'm not wearing cut-off shorts and crop tops around town.

E: No, but you embrace summer more than I do. I prefer a fall aesthetic. 

S: [I only embrace summer] with a spray tan. I will not wear something short — we're so pasty. For me, because I have two kids, I don't shop [in store] anymore. [Though] I prefer to try things on, I'm on Shopbop. Shopbop is my go-to because they've got every brand I love. So you can just place a big order. It's very easy to return.

E: As for maintaining our closets, Oprah went on her show a long time ago and [suggested] that every time you wear something, you turn the hanger around. Then at the end of the year, every hanger that has not been turned around, you should donate [the clothing on it]. Get rid of it because you'll never wear it again. I've never done that, but I should. A rule I do live by is I don't buy new hangers so if my closet gets so full, I don't have space, I get rid of things I'm clearly not wearing. 

I have things in my closet I'm scared to wash because even though [the label] says you can wash them, they may shrink or stain or the strap is going to be pulled off. I don't trust what goes on in the washer machine and I don't want to have to spend money to take it to the dry cleaners, so I use Studio by Tide because it makes me more comfortable putting clothes [in the washer machine] that's more sentimental or delicate. 

S: I'm one of those people that wants to wash my hair every day. I want things clean, so the idea of being unable to wash my favorite jeans because [I'm afraid] it's going to come out ruined gives me such anxiety that I can't even begin to explain. And I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes for my kids because they grow out of [them] so fast. But with the cheaper brands [of children's clothes], they're ruined after two washes. 

E: For my morning routine, I like to do my hair and make up first. It's such a relaxing process for me. Then I go to my closet and ask, "What piece of clothing will I wear that I've worn 100 times already?"

S: My morning routine couldn't be any different. I do not have a calm and relaxing morning. I have a very hectic morning starting at 6:30, 6:45. I try to get up a little before the kids just so I can make coffee for myself. I'm a very low-maintenance morning person — no makeup, no hair. I'll wear a robe until the very last minute possible, and then I put on something really comfortable to take the kids to school. Then I'll either go to the gym, or if we need to look presentable for work, I'll come home, wash, tone and moisturize my face. Then I'll do a little concealer under my eyes, a lip liner and that's it.

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