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."
We've known Alyssa Coscarelli since her not-too-long-ago days as a fashion editor at Refinery29, so it's been particularly exciting to watch her pursue her growing career as an influencer, from attending fashion weeks in Paris and Copenhagen to, most recently, her design collaboration with Petite Studio.
Being five feet and one inch, Coscarelli has had a relationship with Petite Studio since it launched in 2015. At the end of 2018, the brand approached her with the idea of designing her very own pieces, and by the following year, they hit the ground running to create a collection inspired by Coscarelli's summer wardrobe and her penchant for all things vintage. (Think sheer tops, puffy sleeves and stylish checkered prints.) Within a weekend since its launch on Friday, the four-piece capsule collection has already sold out in some styles and sizes, but don't worry, pre-orders are available for another restock in July.
"Growing up, I always knew I wanted to work in fashion, but I didn't want to design clothes. I just wanted to be on the business side," recalls Coscarelli. (She attended LIM for fashion merchandising.) "Doing this collaboration kind of changed everything. It's such a fun and challenging — in a good way — process. And it's so, so, so rewarding to see them come to life. To have a tangible product with my name on it, my stamp on it, is really, really cool and kind of addicting. Now I'm like, 'Ooh, what can I do next?'"
Ahead of her launch party at Petite Studio's headquarters in New York City on Saturday, we sat down with Coscarelli to learn all about her shopping habits, the importance of a good tailor and how she organizes her closet to help her come up with new outfits. Read on for more from our chat.
"I would describe my personal style as heavily vintage-inspired and trend-focused. I like to say I'll try anything once. My style is constantly changing — like one day I'll be super frilly and 'Little House on the Prairie,' and the next, I'll be in biker shorts and chunky sneakers. So it really runs the gamut; I don't like to box myself in. But it definitely skews kind of '60s, '70s, '80s at times.
I'm 50/50, honestly, when it comes to shopping online and in stores. But there's something so special about the retail experience, and there are so many great boutiques in New York that I've been such a champion of for so long. The Frankie Shop has been a favorite of mine for years and years. I like to go to once a month and see what's there and have fun trying stuff on, chatting with the store owner or the store clerk.
When I shop is pretty constant. I wish there was more method to my madness, but there really isn't. It's a constant inflow and outflow. Since I do, fortunately, get gifted so much because of what I do, I don't have to shop as much. But there are always new things coming in one way or another, whether it's stuff I'm getting gifted from brands or for collaborations or stuff I'm supplementing that I'm buying myself. And I do a lot of traveling. In every city I go to, I make a point to suss out the retail landscape there, whether that's small boutiques, indie boutiques, vintage stores. It's part of how I get to know a city.
I'm also constantly getting rid of stuff, which is why a dear friend of mine decided to do clothing sales for charity. We just had too much stuff for any one person, and we wanted to do something good with it. It's really fun because they really find a good home, and people buy them and are really excited about them. They get a really good deal, and it all goes to charity, so it's just a win-win-win. We've raised over $20,000 for Planned Parenthood over the years and other various charities.
I definitely save a lot on Instagram as far as what I think about buying or what I want to keep my eye on, or even buy things directly through it since that's a thing now. I have a collection that's called 'To Buy.' So when I'm feeling good about my bank account, I'll be like, 'Oh, let me see what's in the To Buy folder,' and actually suss it out online, see if they have my size and do the actual shopping. But I always keep tabs on that folder, and it's just constantly growing every day. When I feel like I want to treat myself, I can just go there and make a decision.
I open a million [browser] tabs when I'm online shopping and then go through them one by one. It's almost like Marie Kondo-ing. The thing is if I want something, I'm not even going to think about it. I'm just going to buy. I'm pretty impulsive with things that I love. I'm not even looking at the price tag. I'm very over-the-top when I like something. If I'm going back and forth about it and it's not an immediate 'add to cart,' then I know that I don't need it. Another way, though, that I've found to be really helpful in online shopping, at least, is keeping those tabs open for a couple of days. When I do return 72 hours later to some things, I'm like, 'No. What was I thinking?' So letting them marinate a little bit sometimes helps me make better decisions.
I'm definitely a regular Need Supply shopper. I really, really like their selection, and the sales are spectacular, as well. Definitely a frequent Net-a-Porter shopper, Matches Fashion and Moda Operandi. I really like multi-brand retailers where I can find a lot of what I'm looking for in one place. And recently, actually, there's a vintage store in Brooklyn called Awoke Vintage. They do a really good job of consistently updating their Instagram Stories with all their new product. You can check out via DM and I'm really guilty of that. So I should stay away from their Instagram Stories because I always buy a thing or two. The prices are really great; it comes really quickly, and they're just unique and fun.
When it comes to shopping for vintage, I let the pieces speak to me. I'm not so much looking for specific things. Occasionally, I am, in which case I'll go on The RealReal and search. If I'm looking for headbands, I'll just search headbands. Or if I'm looking for Fendi monograms, I'll search that specifically. I think The RealReal has a really great app for searching for specific things. When I'm at vintage stores, I really want to put my bags down, free myself up and just settle in. I'm on that rack pulling the hangers one by one by one and seeing what I can find, trying on a ton of stuff and maybe getting 10% of it.
I can pretty much look at something and tell if it's going to be small enough to fit me, but often it's not. Then I have to decide if it's worth it for me to spend the money on tailoring. It's really about how much I'm going to wear it. So if I find a piece, say it's vintage and it's three sizes too big, I'm kind of like, 'Am I going to wear this 10-plus times?' And if so, it's worth tailoring. Am I going to wear this five to 10 times? I'll consider tailoring, because it's that amazing or that useful.
I found a tailor that works for me. As soon as I put something on, she knows exactly what to do because at this point, we've worked together for a while. She knows how it needs to fit, and that's really nice to have. I have a growing bag, at all times, for my tailor. She actually comes to my house; a friend recommended her to me. I'll maybe bring her over once every couple of months and she'll just do a whole big bag of stuff for me.
And when it all comes back, it's like a whole new wardrobe. Everything fits so well. It's the best. But it definitely costs an arm and a leg, so I've come up with hacks. I take scissors to a lot of things. I don't mind a raw hem on denim or even some things that aren't denim. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I can definitely pick up a sewing kit and do some surgery — quick surgery — on things if I'm in a pinch.
I've definitely learned my lesson, as far as shopping online, to take five minutes and look at the size chart. Because there's been too many times — even on Need Supply, where I shop so much and so often — where I'll order a pair of pants and even the extra-small is the length of my entire body. It'll save me a lot of stress if I just look at the size chart and see what I'm getting myself into.
I probably don't purge my wardrobe as much as I should, but when we put a date on the calendar for our next sale, then I'm like, 'Alright, let's go. Let's really dig in here and see what I'm ready to part with.' Moving definitely forced me to analyze everything I own, which was very time-consuming. I feel like when you're moving, you're always just like, 'I'm never buying anything again,' which isn't the case. I'm going through organizing my closet right now in my new space and it's been nice being able to see everything, realizing what I have, what I don't and maybe pulling back a little bit.
I like to have one rack or one section in my closet that's kind of my own personal 'new in.' The fun stuff — or my little selects — that I want to wear in the next couple of weeks. That's really how I get dressed, going to that section and picking out what kind of outfit I want to form from those pieces. It's nice if you take a Sunday and go through everything and be like, 'Oh, yeah. I forgot about this. I want to wear that soon,' or, 'Oh, yeah, I have this new thing.' And put all those pieces in one place, and then it makes getting dressed really easy. You're just narrowing down for yourself what you want to wear the next couple of days."
See (and shop) more of the Alyssa Coscarelli x Petite Studio capsule collection in the gallery below.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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