Blue jeans from a boutique in Portland, OR; Uniqlo denim shirt, Topshop nail polish, vintage watch & vintage rings, a camel-bone bracelet she bought on a hike in Morocco
It is my pleasure to resume the Chic Files series with Justine Ariel of Common Era. Justine’s blog has rapidly become one of my favourites: a black and white photography blog, dedicated to high design and innovative fashion photography that aims to tell a story and hopes to conjure fashion lifestyles through objects and arranged scenes. Her love for fashion “is really about the dream, and not the product” (as she declared in this wonderful interview for Vintage Lifestyle Magazine, such an interesting read), she likes the glamour of black and white photography, past and present, and she loves classic films: yes, we have many things in common. Plus, she’s charming and inspiring and she reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Welcome, Justine!
How would you describe your style?
I blend classic with utilitarian. I like understated clothes that are comfortable and casual, but look put-together. Color (or, in my case, no color!) helps with that – I wear white shirts and black jeans a lot, and black turtlenecks with black trousers. In the winter I add a fur scarf or a beret and I’m done. I’m very basic. I ask when I get dressed: “What can I feel good in after a 10-hour day of working and writing, 2 hours on the subway, drinks in town maybe, and an appointment or two?” Usually, the answer is black jeans.
Who are your style models?
Emmanuelle Alt, of course – I think she’s everyone’s style model! Otherwise I look to Anouk Aimée, Jeanne Moreau and, accidentally more than deliberately, Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face.
Your signature day outfit:
Jeans and a white or denim shirt, untucked, with pointed flats.
Your signature evening outfit:
Jeans and a white or denim shirt… Ha. In the evening, especially in summer, I just change my jewelry, add a belt, or put on heels. Otherwise, in winter, I like to wear a black skirt with a grey or navy sweater.
Is there an item you don’t leave the house without?
My iPhone & headphones – for music inspiration and an emergency camera.
Your most cherished wardrobe item.
Right now, my Sandro smoking jacket. It’s new. And I can’t wait to wear it this fall.
Five pieces a woman should have in her closet:
A black knee-length skirt, a nude slip, something with fur (or faux), a pair of designer sunglasses, and a white shirt. Instant chic!
What is the most underrated piece in a woman’s wardrobe that should deserve more attention?
Watches. They are practical, and they give structure to your wrist and arm more than bracelets or bangles – this is important for both long and short sleeves!
Sandro black smoking, linen Uniqlo tank-top, Uniqlo skinny jeans, Fossil boyfriend watch
My quick Q&A:
Flats or heels?
Seasonal – flats in summer & winter, heels in fall & spring.
Shoes or bags?
Bags. Particularly leather ones that can go in the city and on jungle/desert adventures in the same week.
The 20s, the 30s or…what is your favourite fashion decade? Why?
I love 30s American fashion and 60s European fashion – particularly in film. The 1930s are so glamourous and elegant – the era of Marlene Dietrich, of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne films, and costume designers in the 30s for film really tried to create fabulous characters through the clothes they wore. But the 60s are more carefree, casual, and French and Italian cinema of the 1960s is like nothing else! You can have a low-budget film where the actors wear their own clothes, or a film like “Last Year at Marienbad” where everything is stylized not for character, but for effect. I like these tensions the best in fashion – casual and stylized.
Neutrals, pop of colour or colour blocking?
Neutrals. The more I can dress like black & white film, the happier I am.
Mini, midi, maxi or knee-length?
Audrey or Marilyn?
The LBD or something else?
A Smoking jacket – I’m having an obsession with my Sandro smoking. I can get really excited about a beautifully cut silk jacket.
Zara black pleated trousers, vintage black turtleneck, black patent-leather Corso Como pointed flats
A beauty trick you’d like to share:
I put a little aloe vera on my face as a make-up primer. It’s 100% natural and keeps your face bright because it soothes the little sunburns you get from just being outside.
What’s your fragrance?
La Parisienne, YSL.
Saint Laurent Paris (wow, how many times have I mentioned Paris?), because of their permanent collection. Prada because Miuccia Prada is so cool.
Is there a style rule you like to break?
I like to wear black and brown a lot. My favorite combination for this fall is going to be all black clothes with burgundy/brown accessories, like bags and belts.
A piece you would like to add to your wardrobe this fall.
A pair of black suede shoes. Moccasins or heeled loafers, I haven’t decided.
A style quote you live by.
Anaïs Nin: “I am merely an instrument to connect life and the myth.” I have always loved this quotation. For me, in terms of personal style, this means that when you put on that vintage ring, you become forgotten Russian royalty. When you put on a paint shirt, you become a 1960s folksinger on her day-off. When you put on a pair of brown suede boots, you’re ready to go out into the desert for weeks looking for a lost oasis. Dreams keep us alive, clothes can help.
Thank you, Justine, for accepting my invitation. It was wonderful having you over.