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."
Danielle Bernstein is feeling under the weather. A change of seasons, the intensity of overseeing her ever-growing We Wore What brand — the popular blog turned fashion e-commerce and influencer marketing business — and international travel on top of it all have all taken a toll.
But, hey, the influencer-extraordinaire rallied and made it to the fair city of Verona to join Sarah Jessica Parker, model Irina Shayk and more international celebs at the cabaret-themed Intimissimi annual runway show. Thankfully, being a 2019 U.S. Brand Ambassador for the Italian lingerie brand has its perks when completing one's duties while feeling run down. Bernstein didn't need to suffer through the evening in an uncomfy, binding party 'fit, but instead nursed her cold while swathed in a silky pajama set — which she styled with her approachable New York City aesthetic that's earned her 2.2 million Instagram followers and counting.
Bernstein, who designs her own line of overalls and swim sold on Shopweworewhat.com and collaborates with Joe's Jeans on a denim collection, just added tech entrepreneur to her burgeoning business portfolio. Named after her assistant and Chief Brand Officer Moe Paretti, the Moe Assist app helps fellow influencers manage their projects and workflow. And if that wasn't enough, Bernstein, who founded We Wore What online a decade ago, just filed the final manuscript of her upcoming book, "This is Not a Fashion Story: Taking Chances, Breaking Rules, and Being a Boss in the Big City."
The memoir isn't out until May 2020, but the multi-hyphenate did share a few little teasers with Fashionista, including how discount shopping as a teen on Long Island sparked her own fashion career, which "Sex and the City" character influenced her most and what her most productive book writing outfit is. (Spoiler: She also wore it to the party). The jet-setter also imparted some packing pro-tips, which this jet-lagged writer — who interviewed Bernstein in a tragically wrinkled coord set at the show — has filed away for future reference.
"My assistant helps pack with me. We like to pack clothing on hangers, so that it's easy for me to take things out of the suitcases, then we stuff all my shoes, which is really important, [so they keep their shape]. My favorite travel item is Downy Wrinkle Releaser spray. My secret sauce.
I would describe my style as the perfect mix of relatable and aspirational. I'm exposed to so much — so many different items of clothing, and I am given a lot — that I'm able to experiment a lot more than I normally would. For example, I'm wearing silk pajamas to an event; I'm experimenting right now. I'm very comfortable. I'm going to go on the plane in this outfit tomorrow. Just not take it off! I would say, I wear silk pajamas at home all the time, even when I'm working form home. They're definitely a go-to.
I wrote a lot of my book in my silk pajamas, actually, because I did a lot late at night, in bed. This is what I wear to bed, usually. I have a lot of good sweatpant sets, but I wear these to bed the most because it's too hot in sweatpants. It's my book 'fit, with my blue light blocking glasses.
When I'm not working, my style is a lot more minimalist, simplified and definitely more casual. When I go out with friends, I keep it relatively simple, like leather pants and a cool T-shirt or a top and my favorite jeans. The Danielle jeans, which I created with Joe's Jeans, are the best fitting, high-rise vintage-inspired jeans, ever.
I do heavy online shopping. I actually went into the department store for the first time in like a year the other day and it was kind of a crazy experience. I was overwhelmed by it. A lot of people feel the opposite. They find online shopping overwhelming, but I've mastered how to sort through that. I add to cart and then I let it sit there for awhile and I think on it and then I purchase. It depends what the item is and how expensive it is.
Recently I bought The Row boots — a new pair that I had in my cart and my wishlist on MatchesFashion for a while. Then I finally was like, 'you know what? I'm going to wear them all the time' and I purchased them and I've been wearing them a lot.
I have an amazing team that helps me stay organized [with my closet] and professional organizer, Jamie Grunfeld, who's Instagram is Better Than B4, comes over and helps my team get organized and put a method to the madness. Everything is labeled and has a place; first organized by category and color second. I also get rid of stuff monthly. My designer pieces, I sell, and all the other pieces, I donate.
I love vintage shopping. But you have to have the stomach for vintage shopping and thrifting. Whether it's the smells or the mess I find in the thrill of the hunt, I really get a lot of pleasure out of it. My favorite all-time purchases are my vintage Chanel bags. I bought all of them and I collect them. I have 10 or so, probably? What Goes Around Comes Around is amazing for vintage Chanel. I also go on sites like Tradesy or Vestiaire Collective.
My favorite is when [pop-up vintage marketplace] A Current Affair comes to town. I've found all these amazing blazers, random bags and pieces of jewelry. You never know what you're doing to find there: the craziest, coolest, most amazing pieces. I find a lot of jumpsuits and overalls that I inspire me for my own designs. This linen boilersuit that I really loved inspired one of my designs coming out soon in my [WeWoreWhat] holiday collection.
I'm definitely inspired by my peers, too. I love following Danish and Swedish girls on Instagram. They just have super cool style, and actually, one of my first international fashion weeks was Stockholm Fashion Week and that really helped transform the way that I dressed. Pointy toed shoes and skinny jeans — that's what I took out of that trip.
[When I was growing up and looking for inspiration,] there wasn't as much out there because there weren't really blogs or online magazines yet. So I was on the floor of my bedroom, cutting people out of magazines and making collages out of them. I would also look to television on shows like 'Sex and the City.'
I'm a little bit of Carrie; a little more of Samantha. I've met Sarah Jessica Parker before. I haven't seen her tonight, but I know she's here. I have not [told Parker that her 'SATC' character inspired my style] because I'm more Samantha. But I will tell her about my book because I think she'd be into it. I do mention Samantha in it.
My book definitely talks about my days when I was given a really strict budget for seasonal shopping and shopping at Macy's and Century 21 and really trying to make the most out of my wardrobe and focusing on versatility. It helped shaped how I get dressed in the morning and, without realizing, brought me to the career that I have today."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Full disclosure: Intimissimi paid for my flight and accommodations in Verona, Italy to cover the show.