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Have you ever tried to log 10,000 steps a day? If you’ve got a fitness tracker, you’re probably familiar with that benchmark. And you know it can be tough to reach just by going about your day, especially if that day includes sitting in a desk chair or car hour after hour.
I first got a Fitbit to unlock the secrets of my sleep patterns but got hooked on the tiny jolts it administered that spurred me to get off my butt and take a few laps around the office.
It wasn’t long before I realized that hitting 10k a day was going to take some doing. In fact, it started to feel like a full-time job. And since I already have a bunch of of those—my actual full-time job as editor at Bare Necessities, parent, wife and human being with interests of my own that include laying on the couch trying to find where Instagram ends—making my steps began to feel like one more thing on an endless list I felt obligated to get done every day, like flossing.
At times, crossing the invisible finish line happened without trying very hard: weekends, mostly. Days we ran around a playground, or I had dance class, or I would suit up in workout clothes and go for a short jog (fine, power walk). Days on trips—New York, Tokyo—when hitting 20,000 steps or more happened by noon.
But most days, a journey of 10,000 steps felt about 3,000 steps out of reach.
My husband found the relentless pursuit annoying. If, by 9 PM, I was only a thousand steps short, I would haul myself up off the couch and march in place while we watched TV.
My 6-year-old began paying close attention to the flashing lights on my Fitbit and how many footfalls I had made, my allegedly healthy preoccupation insidiously becoming hers.
“I marched in place in the shower, walked the stairs while snacking. I all but stopped standing still”
I guilted my cubicle-mate into standing up with me while we cleaned out our email in-boxes. I endlessly circled kitchen islands and conference room tables, marched in place in the shower, walked the stairs while mindlessly snacking. I all but stopped standing still.
This supposedly awesome thing I was doing for myself was feeling like a drag instead of replenishing my energy but, ever the rule-follower, I soldiered on, telling myself I had to do it for my health and longevity no matter how drained or ridiculous I felt.
“There’s nothing magical about the number 10,000,” it starts before going on to explain that the origin of the figure was a decades-old Japanese marketing campaign to sell pedometers. Somehow, it became adopted as a universally-accepted health standard.
In a new study to find out how many steps it really takes to maintain or better your health, I-Min Lee, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that taking just 4,000 steps is enough to increase lifespan, and the benefits of walking actually end at 7,500 steps.
“Taking just 4,000 steps is enough to increase lifespan, and the benefits of walking actually end at 7,500 steps”
And that’s only steps they measured. Incidental exercise like gardening, housework, biking or swimming didn’t factor into the study at all—things we can safely assume are an added health boost.
My Fitbit app tells me I average 8,684 steps per day. Now, rather than constantly striving to span the distance between me and some arbitrary number, I don’t feel an ounce of guilt about changing into pajamas, kicking back and watching The Office for the umpteenth time. When I hit 9,700, instead of pacing around the house, I call it close enough. Other days, I limp my way to 5k because life.
This past spring, on a trip to Italy, I left my tracker home and haven’t put it back on since. I don’t need a gadget to tell me that I walked my butt off, slept through the night or drank enough water. All things in moderation. Turns out a little stillness and couple of glasses of wine are pretty good for you, too.
Even in paradise, Kristen Jules had a tough time accepting her post-baby body. In this month’s “Life with the Girls,” a stressful run-in with airport security forces her to unpack the angst she’d been carrying around.
Kristen’s Cancun selfie
There are many good things about breastfeeding your kids. Being mistaken for a drug mule isn’t one of them. Yet there I was, attempting to fly home to my babies after a romantic weekend getaway in Mexico, waylaid by a smirking woman in khakis wielding a stick.
“Step aside, miss,” the TSA agent in Cancún instructs after I pass the initial security scan. My heart starts to race; our plane boards in an hour. We’re tired, hungry, a bit hungover.
“Why?” I ask, slightly annoyed by the inconvenience. I’m told that my bag was flagged for a suspicious item and that I would have to wait for a more thorough inspection of my belongings.
Soliiiiid, I think as I watch her begin to unpack my garments one by one with the kind of pointer a teacher in grade school might use to rap on the board.
One after the next, the various breast-enhancing undergarments that I’d brought along were produced. I had breastfed my two children for three years all in, and my naturally perky 36Cs had deflated a few cup sizes. Push-up bras made them look worse; not wearing a bra was no longer an option. At 35, I felt like I had lost one of my best assets, and no amount of double-sided tape or chicken cutlets was going to fix the problem.
“Maybe you have rrrrrrocks in your luggage,” she replied in a scolding, suggestive tone. My mind raced to dark places. She had obviously mistaken something on the X-ray for contraband, and I could tell that she didn’t believe I was flying home to my children. All thanks to the cutlets.
Earlier that same day, on a pristine beach, I had dug my feet into the sand and taken a selfie. Then another. Twenty-something pictures later, I couldn’t find any that would suffice. In one, my shoulder jutted out too much. In another, my hair looked frizzy. In the most Instagram-worthy snap I had managed to take, my bikini top had shifted, highlighting my deformed boobs. No amount of self-confidence could overcome the fact that I had the breasts of someone three times my age. I had recently lost 40 pounds of baby weight, contributing to the saggy state of affairs. Years of healthy eating and weightlifting had me feeling proud yet looking profoundly uncomfortable in a bikini.
“There is nothing illegal in my luggage. I have two small children at home,” I say matter-of-factly, half of the airport now watching this exchange.
The Zen resort where Kristen found clarity
Until this moment, the trip had been cathartic for me.
“Welcome to this sacred space. Please take a moment to be conscious of all your blessings,” said Jesús, the cherubic-faced spa attendant who had bestowed these lovely words upon me only yesterday as I began a hydrotherapy treatment. “Let’s acknowledge the universe of perfection within us, and purify our body and our emotions in the present moment. Cast your anxieties into the water. Leave your troubles behind. Be present, be thankful, be loved.”
I didn’t feel loved, certainly not by myself. The hotel was designed for wellness and relaxation; everywhere you turned, there were artfully arranged objects in pleasing patterns. Smooth, black rocks were nestled into sand that had been raked with rows of curved lines as the Mexican sunshine gleamed through a Pagoda-inspired ceiling.
The perfection that surrounded me was a far cry from the chaotic mommy life I had left behind. It inspired me to tackle my nagging insecurity. For the first time in a good, long while, I felt in control.
It’s high summer at Bare Necessities. We’ve already dipped our toes in the water, easing into the season mostly with the help of our go-to, tried-and-true black swimsuits. Now we’re all warmed up and ready to head in bolder directions. Our favorite color at the moment: rainbow.
Swim expert Megan Puma has pulled together the full color spectrum to effortlessly give your look a tropical punch. And it almost goes without saying by now that each one has bonus benefits (bra cups, built-in slimming) that make it more than worthy of a spot in your suitcase.
All that’s left to do is pick your preferred palette.
Red Alert What better way to channel the heat of the steamiest season than with crimson? Be it a swipe of lipstick or a bathing suit, anyone can pull off this classic power color because all skin has red undertones. The same rules for choosing a red bra apply: Fair complexions look best in a true blue-red; olive tones work with cranberry; dark skin can go deep scarlet or burgundy.
Orange Crush There’s no better time to try tangerine than in the heat of the season. In such small doses, these sunset colors really flatter a warm complexion. Peach, bronze and rust-toned swimsuits take their style cues from the decadent, excessive glamour of the 1970s; just add gold jewelry, a squeeze of self-tanner and a brush of bronzer. (Shown above: Miss Mandalay Canyon Halter)
Hello, Yellow Don’t let fresh lemon sour you on citrus tones; they’re really quite wearable. (And it doesn’t have to be a teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini, either.) Look for soft, buttery shades that play well with pale skin or, on the flip side, intense sunshine shades that are tempered a bit by contrasting colors, like the whites and blues seen in these suits.
Green Lit When the field is this wide open, it’s actually pretty easy being green. From Army-inspired olive to multi-tonal palm-frond prints, you can choose the emerald tones that suit you best. In such an unexpected, natural selection, everyone on the beach will be totally (sorry, had to) green with envy.
Blue Heaven Unlike certain trendy colors, blue is always a sure thing for summertime (the sky! the sea! the Blue Curaçao!). It looks fabulous on everyone and is an enduring classic for its nautical connotations. Get in a blue mood in dark navy, vibrant teal or fashion-forward Yves Klein Blue in any silhouette you like—there’s a deep pool of suits to dive into.
Pretty in Purple From bright, fresh plum to rich, dark raisin, purple reins because it’s universally flattering. Even at its most saturated and intense, purple is never an in-your-face color; it’s all warmth and heart without going overboard. In fact, you can kind of treat it like a neutral, combining at will with metallics and basics like black and white.
Think Pink Pink is all grown up this season: You can play it sweet—but not saccharine—by opting for modern versions, like pale blush and hot hibiscus. Of course, pink may never entirely escape its feminine associations, so you may as well lean into its pretty, flirty side with delicate details like ruffles and ruching.
Okay, so that’s not really how I like to introduce myself these days, but sometimes it feels like I should. I’ll spare you the sob story but, after being married for five years, I’m newly divorced and the big ‘D’ feels very much like a major part of my identity at the moment.
My ex and I were together for nine years; needless to say, along with all of the emotional turmoil that comes along with consciously uncoupling (and trust me, there’s a lot), I’m now also single for the first in almost a decade. It’s a bizarre, unnerving, confusing, at times exciting, feeling that I’m adjusting to one day at a time.
While I’m very much still healing, I’m also adjusting to that other big ‘D’ word: dating”
While I’m very much still healing, I’m also adjusting to that other big ‘D’ word: dating. The last time I was on the scene, Obama was president (first administration, not second). Breaking news: Things have changed. Not only is it strange to be dating again, dating isn’t anything like what I remember. There are apps involved.
But it’s not just the scene that’s different. I’m different. I’m focusing on myself this time around. I’m much more self-aware and feel more strongly about what I want and need out of a relationship. That means that as I dip my toes back into the dating pool, I’m starting to realize what makes me feel better about myself. While I may be wiser and more mature, I’m still the same person—fun, self-assured, open to love, excited for the future. So though I’m still sad, I’m also discovering new ways to tap back into all those positive qualities I love about myself.
“But it’s not just the scene that’s different. I’m different. I’m focusing on myself this time around”
Enter the power of good lingerie. Besides wanting to step up my undergarment game for the obvious single-girl reasons, I’ve realized that it makes me feel super confident, super strong and super sexy. Swapping my beige cotton bra for a black plunge bra (this one, to be precise) has been making me feel damn good about myself—even if no one else sees it.
Wearing a matching bra-and-panty set is also my jam lately. I can’t explain the psychology behind it, but there’s something about it that makes me feel like I have my life completely pulled-together, and trust me, that little boost can go a long way when life is actually completely falling apart.
“There’s something about matching lingerie that makes me feel like I have my life pulled-together”
Same goes for sleepwear. I am notorious for sleeping in a full-on sweatsuit, and I’m not talking about tapered joggers with a crop top. I’m talking ratty, beat-up sweats purchased in the men’s department of the Walmart in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts (don’t ask). So lately, I’ve tried ditching that admittedly less-than-come-hither look for cute rompers or silky shorts and camisoles. They’re all things that are still comfortable and I feel like myself in…just a stepped-up version of myself. And while George, my current bedmate (a.k.a. my dog), is unfazed by my new bedtime attire, it’s another little something I can do to treat myself.
Above all else, I’m choosing better-looking underpinnings that I like, not based on what I think the guys I’m dating would be into. (Although, to be honest, it’s just one cute, sweet guy at the moment. He’s gotten a couple of sneak peeks and is most definitely on board with my choices.)
I’m dressing for a new version of me I’m just beginning to get to know.
Former gold-medalist competitive figure skater Lauren Piskin has trained everyone from the Olympic national team to Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler for Blades of Glory. After opening a Pilates studio in Manhattan, Lauren realized that, in a lot of ways, the workout could use an update.
Lauren’s daughter, Rachel, danced with the New York City Ballet from age 7. When Rachel retired from the company after a 20-year career, her body rebelled against her, physically rejecting the sudden change to her diet and fitness routine. That’s when she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, emerging as one of New York’s most sought-after physical trainers.
Just over seven years ago now, the mother-daughter duo co-founded Chaise Fitness, a boutique studio that revolves around the “Reinvention Method,” their custom chair-based workout class that mashes together Pilates, ballet, cardio and strength training in a low-impact, body-sculpting regimen accessible to women of all ages and abilities. Three locations offer 10 different classes, plus there’s an on-demand platform to give clients access to live-streamed classes and pre-recorded workout videos.
Bare Necessities talked to these two Power Figures and took a class to get a firsthand feel for what the family-run fitness empire is about.
Q: Tell us about achieving your dream careers. How’d you get to where you are? Lauren: We came from different backgrounds and took different paths to come together, but it’s through our different careers that we bring so much knowledge to Chaise Fitness. I started as a competitive figure skater as a child, eventually getting a Masters in Dance and Fitness Education. I’ve since reinvented myself and my career many times. I worked for CBS News for 10 years developing their corporate fitness program, then went back to skating as a choreographer at the national level. Eventually, I ended up back in fitness certifying Pilates instructors and running a studio, which led to the incubator where Chaise Fitness blossomed.
“I’ve reinvented myself and my career many times”
Rachel: I started performing with New York City Ballet in The Nutcracker and went on to become a company member, but my career ended abruptly due to health issues. I thought I wanted to become a costume designer so I got my undergraduate degree in that field but, by working with my mom on the side, soon realized teaching was my passion.
Q: What’s your mission with Chaise Fitness? What’s unique about it? Lauren: Chaise Fitness was created with the idea of taking Pilates off its back, and creating a method that had the same benefits, with a faster pace. It has grown to be so much more. We strive to support women in particular through every stage of life. Clients of all ages challenge themselves, have fun and see tremendous results. We focus on developing strong cores, improving posture, building lean muscles and supporting the muscles in the spine. Rachel: When we created the overhead bungee system to go along with the chair, it completed our vision and became our patented system. Together, it transforms people’s posture and upper body tone through very light resistance work. It’s a low-impact method that allows anyone to practice strength training without fear of injury.
Q: What did it take to turn the business from idea to reality? Lauren: It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, belief in what you do and passionate people around you. It also requires a balance of taking risks and knowing when to pull back and say no.
Q: How did your prior careers prepare you for this? Lauren: All of my years training figure skaters and Pilates instructors helped me in knowing how to mentor, nurture and certify a strong team. Rachel: Years of focusing on my body helped me creatively in developing new programming, and the focus required of a professional dancer has helped me in all aspects of the business. I look back at my career as a dancer as my own version of an M.B.A.
“I look back at my career as a dancer as my own version of an M.B.A.”
Q: What does a typical workday look like? How do you unwind? Rachel: We’re so lucky to work together and have the flexibility of owning our own business. With that flexibility, however, there aren’t any days where you’re officially off; anything from a client issue to a toilet clog requires your attention. We love teaching and that’s when we’re happiest, but a lot of our days are also focused on training instructors and day-to-day operations. Personally, I unwind with a lavish beauty routine at night.
Q: What’s it like to be your own boss? To work with a family member so closely? Rachel: It’s really a gift. We wouldn’t have been able to grow Chaise Fitness without each other. There is no one you can trust more or be more yourself with than family. This lends itself to creating a unique work environment we’re lucky to have.
“There is no one you can trust more or be more yourself with than family”
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you have to overcome, and how do you do it? Rachel: When you run a small business in the saturated fitness scene, every day is a challenge you have to overcome. You need to keep your studio relevant while staying true to your brand and mission. It’s also important to keep educating yourself in areas you’re not experts in, like social media and marketing, so we’re constantly trying to learn.
Q: What drives you? Rachel: We want to build something successful and special not only for each other, but for the staff that has become our family. Some people have been with our company for a decade. Lauren: This last leg of my career journey is for my daughter. She will make it her own—she always has. At this age, it’s great to mentor my teachers, and hopefully my work will be a legacy to my daughter.
Best advice you ever got Lauren: My mother told me to marry someone who loves you even more than you love him!
Rachel: Sometimes you need to be a horse with blinders on. Focus on yourself, not what others are doing around you.
Fear you’re trying to overcome Lauren: Flying. Rachel: How to balance it all—motherhood, work, family, myself. But I think the fear of it is actually bigger than the challenge.
Perfect day must contain Lauren: My family.
Rachel: Working out at Chaise, spending time with my family and watching Bravo.
Behind every great swimsuit is an amazing cover-up, so the saying goes (or something like that, anyway).
Bare Necessities swim buyer Megan Puma believes you don’t need a cover-up to expressly match every suit—the art is in the mix. “A cover-up should be this super easy thing you bring with you everywhere you go in summer,” she says. “They elevate and complete your look without taking up a lot of space. If you throw one in your carry-on, you can hit the beach right on arrival.”
Read on to see what stylish options she’s uncovered for every body that can take to to the beach—and beyond—all summer long.
Skirts, Pants and Sarongs With so many fun, colorful options, bottom-friendly styles are really big this season. “I think it’s because you get coverage but also sexiness and fashion,” says Megan, who appreciates their versatility: Pair them not only with swim but with bodysuits or crop tops, too. And you can conceal stomach or thighs depending on how high you want to wear it.
Beach-to-Street Looks What’s not to love about a light, airy cover-up that can double as an outfit? An elevated-looking romper or maxidress is ready to take you places on sunny days, be it the snack bar or cocktail hour al fresco. “Just throw a bandeau bikini top underneath, or keep a strapless bra in your bag to change into,” Megan says. With the effort it takes to change from flip-flops into wedges, you’re set to extend a beautiful day straight into the night.
Dresses and Tunics When you think about cover-ups, these are most likely the classic tops that come to mind—straight-up summertime essentials in solid neutrals to pair with every last swimsuit you’ll ever buy. “They’ll wear out before they go out of style,” says Megan.
Fully Functional Fashion “Sometimes, you want to wear a cover-up for reasons other than sun protection,” says Megan. Carrying around a cell phone and some cash calls for pockets; drying wet hair requires a hood. These easy-on zip-up kinds may negate the need to deal with a towel altogether, and sleeveless styles aren’t going to make you hotter than you already are. That’s what we call sun smart.
When it comes to wedding season, the outfit you’re wearing is the easiest part! Think about it: By the time you put on your gown or party dress, all the big decisions have already been made. Suddenly, the base layers have the biggest impact on your degree of flawlessness.
So whether you’re the bride and it’s your big day or honeymoon, you’re in the wedding party or you’re on the guest list, Bare Necessities is here to help you be the best dressed you can be. Peruse The Bride Guide or let us escort you right to what you need…
For the Bride, at Her Shower or Bachelorette Party
Our favorite gifts for these lady-centric special occasions include swanky bridal sleepwear she wouldn’t think to splurge on for herself, a gorgeous robe she’ll wear over and over again, a lacy garter she can use on the big day and pieces that broadcast her Bride status.
We also suggest outsourcing bridal lingerie shopping to friends because honestly that’s half the fun of these things. Add in a cute, on-theme pair of socks (we’re partial to Mrs. Always Right and Bride to Bee), and your gifts are ready to go.
For the Bride, on Your Wedding Day
Though you’ve probably already found something borrowed and something new, the something blue can be the trickiest tradition to fulfill—or at least it was, anyway, until we gave you that link there.
Also a thing: short robes for getting ready with your girls that are sure to appear in the wedding day photos. Consider something classy from Flora Nikrooz (in so many colors, the whole bridal party can coordinate) or Kate Spade New York, in white or blue.
Nothing is too good for the best women who are by your side, this day and every other day, so treat them all equally—and lavishly—to PJ Harlow loungewear in the prettiest watercolor pastels (like the blush pink satin “Jackie” camisole and matching shorts here).
Be sure to throw in thoughtful-kitschy-cute Hot Sox made for the “Bride Tribe” and the “I Do Crew.”
The Spanx Suit Your Fancy collection was designed explicitly for event season, featuring clever, one-of-a-kind shaping tactics—plunging fronts and backs, high-waist tummy-shaping thongs that leave no trace of a panty line behind—plus the refining factor you turn to Spanx for in the first place.
The new Spanx Firm Believer High-Waist Shaping Sheers are not only perfectly sheer, they also smooth right over a tummy, thighs and rear. Thanks to laster-cut technology, no VPL need apply, and they come in so many different shades that you can match your skin tone to a tee. The cumulative effect is your legs, but better. If you prefer thigh highs, the Hanes Silk Reflections Silky Sheer Thigh Highs will stay put all night thanks to silicone-lined leg bands. The sheer toe lets you pair them with open-toe shoes, and the wicking design will keep you cool and comfy all day during that outdoor summer wedding.
And if you’re not a legwear lover, consider simple problem-solvers like Hue Perfectly Bare Toe Covers and Hue Open Toe Mule Liners. These minimalist accessories that go a long way toward making heels feel better. They’re breathable and cushioned to absorb impact at the ball of the foot—key to dancing the night away.
For the Bride, on Your Honeymoon
Regardless of the destination, Bali to Buffalo, you’re going to need three things: stepped-up sleepwear (wait to revert to worn-out sweats until after the honeymoon is over), pretty lingerie (if not now, then when?) and a great swimsuit (or three).
As a health magazine fashion editor, Gabrielle Porcaro eats, sleeps and breathes workout wear. So what took her so long to get comfortable in a sports bra? Find out in this month’s “Life with the Girls.”
The New York City boutique spin-class scene can be intimidating. Working out in minimal clothing is enough to make anyone feel insecure, but beautiful people with killer bods, dressed in the latest and greatest fitness gear, looking fresh no matter the hour? It’s an uphill climb.
So when I first started getting really into indoor cycling, the whole designer workout thing threw me for a loop I didn’t see coming: I was suddenly self-conscious about what I was wearing.
Let me back up. I had been a fashion editor for nine years at that point. Around then, I began working at Women’s Health, when activewear really started to evolve and athleisure took over the runways. It was literally my job to help women look stylish and offer advice on what to shop for, especially when it came to workout wear. I do a generally good job of getting dressed if I do say so myself and, on most occasions, style isn’t something I stress over. So to be surrounded by well-appointed fitness fans and feel like I didn’t fit in gave me serious pause.
I knew what was preventing me from looking and feeling stellar at spin: my sports bra.
It would get my leggings in a twist to see so many women who could wear cute little nothing bras, with gossamer-thin straps somehow sturdy enough to keep them comfortably spinning into oblivion. In my world, thin straps don’t exist. As someone with 34DDs, my breasts are something I always have to consider, no matter what I’m suiting up for.
This is not a take-down of my bra size; I’m happy with and proud of it. It’s that, at my size, support can’t be found in just any bra I like. That goes double for sports bras.
Back then, all the sports bras that supported me were extra stiff, bulky and massive. They reminded me of bulletproof vests or suits of armor. They were hard to hide under the flimsy, fashion-forward tops all the cool girls were wearing. Athletic companies weren’t equipped to cater to larger busts, and I couldn’t get away with wearing an over-the-head L or XL compression-style bra, though heaven knows I tried.
Apart from thick cups that bulked up my body, wide straps were the bane of my existence. Because I didn’t dare walk into a class with those straps exposed, I couldn’t just throw on a tank and get to it. I made it my personal quest—fortunately, one I was allowed to take on during business hours—to figure out both the best sports bras to support me and the right tops that would make me more confident walking into my next SoulCycle or FlyWheel session.
Now, my favorite sports bra styles are the ones that have less padding and are lower-cut, like ones from Natori. As long as the bra doesn’t make my breasts look and feel like a shelf installed just south of my chin, I’m all for showing some cleavage.
T-back or racerback sports bras still aren’t my first choice (ever tried wriggling out of a sweaty one?) but, with them, I can wear a looser, boxier tank. So long as the silhouettes are same, I’m fine with my bra peeking out a little.
It might be silly to overthink these kinds of things, and of course, there are days when I just don’t care and break my own rules. What it really comes down to is that wearing something stylish helps me feel strong and self-assured while grinding out the final mile. The last thing I want is to be distracted when I’m putting in the time to do something for myself.
When your personal obsessions and your paid profession overlap, you’ve hit self-actualization bullseye, and that’s what’s so inspiring about Kim France. The founding editor of Lucky magazine (R.I.P.) and the brains behind the Girls of a Certain Age blog (its motto, “You know who you are,” should win the world’s best tag line contest if that were a thing), Kim has spent her career meditating on her love of fashion in the smartest, most unique and relatable way.
She is as passionate about eye cream and handbags as she is about art and culture. And since she’s 55 and owning it, and it’s her damn blog, she gets to share whatever she’s into, however she pleases. Her personal style and writing voice are both so peerless, we’d be willing to bet you’ll be into it, too. Read just one of her posts (well, finish this one first), and you’ll immediately get it.
Kim kindly gave Bare Necessities an exclusive interview about reaching publishing’s glass ceiling before the floor gave way, picking herself up by her chic platform bootstraps to find herself all over again and what’s so good about growing up.
Q: In broad strokes, can you tell readers about your incredible career path?
A: I grew up in Houston, got an unpaid internship at Seattle Weekly, was a pretty terrible assistant at 7 Days, then went to Sassy which was, for me, a game-changing job because the whole magazine was written by three staffers. We couldn’t be precious, we had to get it out there. I’ve never had as intimate a relationship with readers as I did there. Around then, I also started writing about rock music for Rolling Stone, Spin and Vibe. After Sassy, I went to Elle and New York Magazine, where I did entertainment.
I met the editorial director for Condé Nast at a party, and we hit it off. When he started thinking about doing a shopping magazine with an editor-in-chief who didn’t fit the fashion editor mold. I felt like there was room for a fashion magazine that would be more democratic in tone and content, and they supported that.
I was at Lucky for 11 years. One day I was called in and told I didn’t have a job anymore. I was very sad that day, but I was also very relieved. It was hard watching what was happening to magazines. There was a lot of pressure being put on magazine editors to come up with new forms of revenue, which shouldn’t be a magazine editor’s job. I took a year off afterwards. I really needed it. Lucky was a very gratifying job, but it was very stressful; it was game-changing, and then the game changed. I needed time to regroup and remember who I was.
“The game changed. I needed time to regroup and remember who I was”
Eventually, I started thinking about writing again, but I knew I didn’t want to be a magazine writer, waiting around for my editor to call and tell me infinite ways they wanted me to change my story. So I started a little blog in 2012 that was private the first few months. I was really unsteady; blogging is a different kind of writing.
When I got more confident and had accrued enough content, I took Girls of a Certain Age public. I called a Women’s Wear Daily reporter, then The New York Times’ Styles section wrote about it, and all that helped me get an audience.
The first posts were really bad. It’s not like here’s my lede paragraph… It’s a different thing. I took the advice I gave the copywriters at Lucky: If I was in the dressing room with my friend and she was trying something on, what would I tell her?
Q: What’s your mission with Girls of a Certain Age?
A: My mission is to show that there’s a way to look cool at any age but always appropriate. To give women a forum to talk about whatever’s on their minds. There are so few places for girls of a certain age to find community. Lucky was about shopping, but what we accomplished that was good is that we didn’t have articles about things like fighting over the last bag at the sample sale; we didn’t use language like “shop ’til you drop.” Those things needed to happen for it not to be vulgar. In the same way, I felt like Girls of a Certain Age could be about that without being explicitly about it. It’s not full of constant reminders of what stage of our lives we’re in; we all know. It could be a more exuberant experience than that. I wanted to make it a fun thing.
“My mission is to show that there’s a way to look cool at any age but always appropriate”
Q: Personally, what’s it been like for you to become “a girl of a certain age?”
A: It’s a mixed bag. I certainly spend a lot more on skincare now. My memory is not as good as it used to be, and that’s no joke. It’s a strange thing to move into a different phase of life. I just turned 55 and I still feel in some ways like I’m 17. In other ways, I’m really aware that I’ve been on the planet for a while now. All the stuff they say about becoming a little more invisible in our culture is true, but I try not to dwell on it and to look at the positive: You can move through the world really anonymously if you want to. I refuse to think of it as a bad thing.
Q: How can we empower women not to feel irrelevant after aging out of the coveted 18-34 age group?
A: I don’t get it because there is so much money to be spent by women in my demographic. We control the household finances, and we make the money. We’re a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, and that’s what we want to see. There are always some people who are doing something different—Madewell and various beauty companies are showing gray-haired models; Paulina Porizkova on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue talking about ageism—but these are all beautiful women. I don’t know that it’s so different than it’s ever been, and I have a degree of acceptance about it.
Q: What does a typical day look like?
A: The morning starts with coffee and walking my dogs, Sammy and Mister, a Schnoodle and a rescue from Thailand. Then if I haven’t finished my blog post for the day, I finish it. Then try to work on my book, which is overdue, and whatever other projects. Working from home is challenging. I really miss the spirit of collaboration at magazines and having other people around who make you laugh during the day. Fortunately, I have enough friends who are refugees of the magazine world to connect with over the course of the day. There is no real average day yet they all look the same: some combination of blogging, writing, walking the dogs, meeting a friend and going for lunch or a walk. I would never say never to anything, but I can’t say I have a burning desire to catch the subway to midtown every day again.
I try to read a lot because you do better writing when you’re reading. I binge-watch whatever I’m watching at the moment. I see people I haven’t seen, and I’m very close to my family, so I try to see them.
Q: What drives you?
A: Fear of failure drives me. It’s hard to be someone trained as a print editor and not feel irrelevant in 2019. And making a living. I’m not married, I don’t have someone supporting me or even someone to lean on that way. But at the same time, I don’t care about making the kind of money I once made or having a job like I once had. I’m glad it happened, but I don’t ever want it to happen again—nothing with that much pressure.
“I don’t care about making the kind of money I once made or having a job like I did. I’m glad it happened, but I don’t ever want it to happen again”
Q: How did you learn to get comfortable with risk-taking?
A: I think people take risks—or at least I do, and I think it’s true of others—when no other option feels feasible, and that makes taking the risk feel a lot more manageable.
I wasn’t a very happy kid in Houston. I had a lot of family on the East coast and a strong feeling I would be happier there. Case in point: It didn’t feel like taking a risk because I didn’t feel like I had another option other than getting out of Texas and changing my life.
Q: Fashion and feminism aren’t mutually exclusive to you. Why is it important to cultivate style, and how can we use style to enhance our lives?
A: I think it’s important to cultivate style if cultivating style is important to you. If you couldn’t care less, you should wear whatever you want. But I think style can be a way of expressing yourself and boosting your self-esteem. We lead stressful lives. Within reason, shopping and buying things can be a harmless charge—you get a little high from it, and blowing off steam buying something is good.
I never felt beauty or fashion and feminism were mutually exclusive. There are parts of the fashion world that are oppressive; there are designers who don’t do women any favors. I’ve long felt it’s the fashion designers’ fault that models have the bodies they have now. They’re in the position to choose to change that if they want to, and many of the designers are women, and they choose not to, and that’s not cool, but it’s like turning around a barge. I think fashion can help identify who you are in our culture, and help you move through the world in a confident way. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.
“Fashion can help you move through the world in a confident way”
Q: What’s the most common mistake you’ve seen women on the rise making?
A: when I was last in an office, I was shocked by how many women in their first jobs thought they were prepared to become senior editors. Not everybody is Mark Zuckerberg. I hated when people said it to me, but you do have to pay your dues a little, and having a good ‘no job too small’ attitude when you’re starting out is really important. The people at Lucky who got ahead were the ones who just kept their heads down and did the work.
Q: Tell us more about your book.
A: It’s a memoir about my time in magazines with a focus on Lucky. During that time, a lot of very crazy things went on in my personal life. I went through a very, very paralyzing depression, I got divorced, I got breast cancer.… It’s about negotiating that job while I was dealing with a lot.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KIM The bra that makes you feel unstoppable: Let me go look in my bra drawer…. I like Chantelle bras a lot, and Wacoal makes a pretty unstoppable and the most attractive racerback bra. Wardrobe staple(s): Jeans, of course; Maria Cornejo dresses; buttondown shirts by Nili Lotan, APC and Everlane, and clogs from No. 6 and Rachel Comey. Personal mantra: Choose love. Greatest extravagance: I can’t live without Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady body oil. Perfume is too strong for me. Oil is the way to go. Dream job as a kid: I wanted to be an actress. Hidden talent: I can usually guess the time. Favorite vacation destination: We’ve been going out to Sag Harbor in the summers for a long time. My family has a house there. It’s got a very comfortable, homey feel, and I get to see my brothers and my mom a lot, and so I like that. All-time favorite TV show: I will never not watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It gets me every time in a new way. It holds up! Passionate about: Obviously right now I care about upholding a woman’s right to choose, which is looking pretty terrifying. My monthly donation makes me feel like a decent person. I’m been active in foster children’s rights; they get a bad deal in this country, assuring better conditions for them is important to me. I’m passionate about my family. I never had children, so my primary family is still who I’m closest to. Best band: The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo are in constant rotation these days. Favorite emoji: I do not believe in emojis. Comfort food: Shepherd’s pie. Best advice you ever got: Don’t make excuses. In my first job, I was trying to get out of some hole I’d dug myself into and my editor told me to own it and move on. I also believe in acknowledging what you don’t know in the workplace. I don’t believe in faking it ‘til you make it at all. I believe in getting help from people who do. Proudest moment: When women who I worked with when they were younger who have now made it in their careers say that I was a mentor. Greatest strength: I’m pretty decisive. Biggest regret: Getting married. And also the day that Nirvana did their MTV Unplugged performance, I decided not to go; I figured I’d catch them another time. Fear you’re trying to overcome: Biking around New York. I go with my boyfriend, we’re very careful, but I’m still afraid. Secret to living a great life: I’m very into this concept of radical acceptance. Acknowledge the things in your life that you can and can’t change, and figure out how to work within your reality. The perfect day must contain: The sun. Every winter I dream of moving to Miami. In a word: Evolving.
The inimitable burlesque star and intimates designer makes a habit of surrounding herself with glamour; its transformative power can’t be overstated. For Dita, a lifelong connoisseur of vintage underpinnings, it all starts with conjuring up the lingerie she most wants to wear, and it ends with inspiring untold fans to do the same.
Bare Necessities got an exclusive chance to ask the lovely Dita what she’s up to for spring and beyond, the inspiration behind her newest designs and what she’s personally most excited about putting on which, coming from her, is really saying something.
Q: What were your inspirations for the spring/summer collection?
A: I love vibrant, unexpected color for this time of year, and I always love pastels, too. With my best-selling Madame X range, which begs to be seen and has become a favorite with pin-up girls, it’s so much fun to explore color, and I love asking my social media followers which colors they wish they had. I always have a personal wishlist of colors, but it’s nice to hear what those who wear this style would love. More and more often, I feel like they’re excited about unusual colors. And as much as I love joyful, colorful lace, I stand by the power of lingerie in deep, rich tones and elegant black. It’s for every season, always classic and wearable.
“I’ve always challenged the idea of seasons for lingerie, so I often think…just make it gorgeous!
I’ve always challenged the idea of seasons for lingerie, and maybe that’s a bit because it’s a global market, and I’m designing for Australia as well, and their seasons are opposite ours, so I often think…just make it gorgeous! I do think it’s nice to play with moods from season to season, and I love to shift and dress for the weather, but it’s not quite the same as with clothing where there’s a reason for warmer fabrics and things like that. With lingerie, in the spring and summer, I like light, effervescent colors, vibrant colors and even colors that border on neon. But ultimately, I think of things we will want to wear over and over, from season to season. I’m a big fan of saturated color anytime, and you know how I feel about black lace. It’s a staple for the femme totale, so we revisit black and deep blue in different ways, and it’s never passé.
Q: What lingerie trends have you been noticing?
A: Honestly, I don’t look at lingerie trends; I don’t even know where I’d find them. I take inspiration from other places. I’ve worked in lingerie since I was 15, and my entire career is based on my love and obsession with lingerie and what it can do to make life a bit more beautiful and pleasurable. But I like to keep my blinders on when it comes to my line, and just try to make things without outside influence. I do notice that, as time goes by, brands start doing similar things, and I see the way designs tend to trickle down. One of the only things I like to look at are other brands’ price points to challenge my own brand to find ways to up the ante on the details while keeping an attainable price.
Admittedly, I do design with my own desires in mind; years ago, I kept pushing my own brand to move on from moulded cups and to start “freeing the nipple” in a way, with soft, light lace bras that still have support but don’t reshape the breasts into unnatural domes. I finally got my way a few years ago. We made beautiful bras like Coquette and Tryst and reimagined my Savoir Faire bra without the fiberfill and linings. It’s become the trend in lingerie now. When I follow my instincts, it usually works.
“When I follow my instincts, it usually works”
The other thing I’ve been challenging since the start is the use of stretch lace. I’m not usually a fan of it, so I use it minimally in my line, only when I think it’s a really beautiful and rare stretch lace. I realize it’s a bit tougher to make non-stretch fabrics fit, but I’m always pushing the engineering process to figure out ways because there’s something so nice about intricate lace with bold patterns in it, like what we use on Tryst and Marlene.
Q: You’ve long stood for size inclusivity. What do you think about where the industry is headed?
A: My mission from day one of launching this collection was to offer wearable, everyday glamour at an attainable price, and size inclusivity. When I first debuted the brand, we did a runway show and used women with various skin colors, we used voluptuous models and we also cast non-models like pin-up girls and dancers. I tried to find older models back then as well, because I think ageism is another important issue. It wasn’t so easy then, but I think in the last few years, things are changing.
No one can say that I’m joining the brands that are jumping on the inclusivity bandwagon. The proof is there that it’s been my aim from the start. Of course, no one brand can tick every box, and I think it’s important to stand for something even if you can’t please everyone, and while I certainly can’t make bras for every woman, size range was something I addressed before I so much as put my name on a piece of lingerie. I always send customers looking for larger sizes to Bare Necessities because not only do you carry my largest sizes, but you also have a vast selection of sizes available beyond what I can do.
Q: How do you continue to grow and evolve longtime favorites like Madame X and Dahlia?
A: Mostly with color! But I’ve also done Madame X with velvet details and tiny sequins…that was a personal favorite. I love crowdsourcing colors. I wanted emerald green for so long, but it seemed that lingerie buyers were against it. It kept coming up as a requested color, so we did it anyway, and it was a big success. I love green, whether it’s emerald or chartreuse or lime or pine. Green is chic and unexpected. Marlene is super gorgeous in green. I played with the overlay a lot before finding the right satin lining. What I love to do is take swatches of the laces for my lingerie and bring them into my wardrobes and hold the lace up against my vintage dresses and dress linings to see how the color contrasts look. I have a lot of fun with this, and come up with bizarre combinations that work beautifully.
Q: Would you consider branching into new categories or styles based on the popularity of many of your collections?
A: I love lingerie as outerwear. For my first collections, I did bustiers and dresses that were easy to wear out on the town. I’d love to do more of these; they were based on vintage corsalettes, but we made them lined, with zippers, and longer, to wear as dresses. I would also like to do negligees and extravagant loungewear. I have a goldmine of vintage loungewear in my archives to use as inspiration that I know people want to wear!
Q: Can you give us a sense of what you’re looking forward to down the road for fall?
A: I have some beautiful new embroideries I’m excited about; a collection called Julie’s Roses, named for Julie Newmar who’s a good friend. I go to her house to see her beautiful rose garden, so I named it for her. The Bijoux collection is another gorgeous embroidery that I can’t wait to wear myself. I love graphic black on ultra-fine tulle mesh so it appears to float on the skin. And lately, I’m absolutely loving Tryst in green, it’s my favorite right now.
Q: How do you wear your pieces? What’s your best personal styling advice?
A: I love coordinating my lingerie with my clothes—sometimes matching, sometimes creating exciting contrasts. I love laying out a sweater or dress and taking a photo to share on social of the bra I choose. I love wearing something like Maestra or Madame X in a bold, bright color with a low-cut T-shirt to work out in, flashing a hint of the color. I’m crazy about bright red lingerie under black, or a soft pastel underneath a sheer ivory blouse.
I do love matching sets. In fact, even before I designed my own lingerie, I would buy different styles of underwear for every bra: the bikini and the string and the brief. Versatility increases the wearability of the set and also the longevity of your investment. I have my favorite styles of underwear, so I mix and match my black laces a lot.
“Lingerie is for everyone that wants it. I love the idea of changing people’s minds about it”
Q: What are your fans most excited about? How do these pieces make them feel?
A: I love hearing what they love, and I love seeing their photos! It’s one thing I really love about social media; we are living in an era when people aren’t afraid to flaunt their sensuality. I love seeing pictures of people wearing my lingerie. I was very excited yesterday when RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar Violet Chachki wore my Dahlia lingerie for her Youtube Channel and on social, and I recently taught a dancer named Jake Dupree to do my Champagne glass act for a secret show I produced in Hollywood. We decked him out in Madame X with my signature seamed stockings underneath a beautiful tuxedo. He was fabulous. Lingerie is for everyone that wants it. I love the idea of changing people’s minds about it, trying to liberate us from taboos and stigmas.