Naturally, when considering who my go-to “fashionista” is, I immediately look to my bestie Susan Wojtcuk. I mean, we all have that one friend; we know not to bother packing any extra clothes because we’ll inevitably raid our BFF’s closet instead. Susan is that girl in our group of friends (whether she chose it or not).
From leather to sheer to lace — we can count on her closet to take our going-out clothes up a notch or two (thankfully she’s generous and always lets us borrow).
I’ve watched her style evolve from preppy popped collars and bright blue eye shadow (what up high school), to what it is today. But, how did she get there? That’s what I decided to find out by raiding her closet yet another time, but with burning questions in my mind.
So, let’s step into Susan’s closet-PR girl, NYC resident, and my chic AF friend.
If you live in NYC, you understand the struggle of not having the closet size you want. Tiny (expensive) apartments mean you need to get creative, and we should all bow down to Susan for accomplishing just that.
In her cute (but small) Manhattan closet, you’ll find black, more black, nudes, and a rare patterned piece. This, I wanted to get to the bottom of. Like, why no floral prints, girl?
20something: How has your style evolved to create this wardrobe we see today?
Susan Wojtcuk: Throughout the different experiences in my life, my tastes have changed in many things — especially style (thankfully). Three years ago, I lived in Paris for a period of time, and I think that was the turning point in my style. The Parisian women have the classiest, chicest style I’ve ever seen, and it’s not because it’s flashy or expensive — it’s simple.
As you can now see from my closet, that’s why I started adding more basics and neutrals to my wardrobe, because I saw how polished that looked. After that, I lived in Los Angeles for some time working for some of the trendiest people in industry. The culture there inspired me to really develop my personal style vibe and wear whatever I want, regardless of what other people thought, which is why I now have some more unique items in my closet.
And now living in New York, I guess I would call my look “street chic” — I love my Nikes and sweatpant joggers, but I also like to pair that with a fitted T-shirt and a hot pink lip color. It’s just what I like, it’s just me.
Basic essentials you can’t go without? Staple pieces we can find you wearing on a busy NYC street?
SW: I love a go-to, white T-shirt that I can pair with anything, like a loose-fitting boyfriend jean and good shoe, whether it’s a cute sneaker or a heeled bootie. I also like to have a light jacket with me, either to wear or drape on my shoulders, like this black and white jersey jacket. And before I walk out of the door, I always add a lip color, usually my go-to nude color from Maybelline or if I’m feeling wild, a hot pink or deep purple from Nars.
Under these essentials, I’m obsessed with bralettes. I have them in every color and prefer them to a “real bra.” If I have a sheer top or a low-rise top, a bralette can really add an edge to an outfit, and even if they aren’t visible, such a delicate piece makes me feel really sexy and feminine — and hello, they’re super cute!
What goes through your head when choosing an outfit? Is it comfort, style, etc.?
SW: It really depends on what I’m dressing for. Whether I’m picking out an outfit for an important client meeting, a quick trip to the grocery store, brunch with friends, or dressing for date night, I always keep in mind how I want to feel when I’m wearing the outfit.
In some situations and in this city specifically, there’s a certain truth behind “dress to impress.” And on the flip side to that, I’ve learned to dress comfortably, but that’s not to be confused with lazy. I never know who I’ll run into, so I want to look like I put at least a tiny bit of thought into my outfit — in the privacy of my own home, however, mismatched sweatpants/sweatshirts aren’t uncommon.
What inspires your style/choices?
SW: For style inspiration, I love seeing what people on the street are wearing and how differently people present themselves. I also think social media has inspired my style because my feed is primarily fashion and beauty inspo. I follow a ton of stylists and creative directors on Instagram because they’re the ones ahead of the trends — they’re the ones picking the pieces that we see in photos and they’re the ones who are dressing celebs — not to mention they all have a serious swagger of their own.
What do you think is “in” this season, and do you take latest fashion trends into account when shopping for a new outfit?
SW: I was actually just talking with the girls I work with about all of the old style trends making a strong comeback — chokers, denim skirts, platform shoes…walk down Fifth Ave. or scroll through your Instagram feed and that’s all you see. There’s definitely a few popular trends now that I see on everyone. I’m guilty of joining in on a few myself. But I also know there are some trends that I’m simply not down with and won’t get on board with. I love trying new things and being bold in my choices, but I also know when not to force it if it isn’t my style.
Day outfits are always tough, especially in NYC when you’re bound to end up sweaty AF after walking two blocks (okay, maybe one). Whether you’re going to a boozy brunch, grocery shopping, or just a mid-day stroll, choosing the right outfit is a struggle (for most of us, aka me). However, Susan has it down pat, and broke it down for us:
What are some tricks you’ve learned along the way to piecing together the ideal day outfit?
SW: For me it’s pretty simple — I live in NYC so for my day-to-day outfits, I know comfort is key. I’m constantly navigating through the subway, walking to work, dodging cabs, etc. so it’s important to pick an outfit that allows me get shit done. For my personal style, I know it’s cliche to say, but the majority of my wardrobe is black or neutral colors, like white, gray, beige or blush. Since I stick to this palette, my daily outfits act more as a canvas for how I want to dress it up that day, whether that’s with a hat, a statement necklace, a bright lip color, or a strong ponytail. There’s nothing worse than trying too hard and overdoing a look.
Day outfit goals. While it’s comfortable, Susan looks like she’s also ready for anyone or anything. Drinks, the store, an outing with friends — she can do it all in this look. Don’t worry, I got the low-down on where you can find these pieces to create your own day look.
For a comfy basic tee, Susan went through the men’s section of Urban Outfitters (that’s right ladies, we can snag stuff from the men’s section too), for a classic pair of leather pants to spice things up you can stop into H&M, for shoes Susan chose an all black pair of Nike Air Max 90 (pictured above in her essentials), and for accessories she topped the outfit off with her; Bauble Bar choker, all black Ray Ban aviators, gold cuff bracelet from Zara, and Louis Vuitton bag.
So, if you’re looking for the stores to drop your paycheck at, you know what to do. Here are some of Susan’s other favs:
SW: I like to shop at all different stores to switch it up, but my favorites are Naked Wardrobe, Topshop, Zara, Urban Outfitters, ASOS, H&M, Necessary Clothing – they always have something I’m looking for.
SW: Chokers, delicate gold necklaces, watches, hats (baseball/‘dad’ hats, beanies, big floppy hats), a cute pair of sunglasses (my go-to’s are my black aviators), a chic tote bag, one that’s big enough to bring lunch, gym clothes, makeup, etc. all in the same bag – there’s nothing worse than lugging around five different bags in the city.
During my attempts at putting together a ‘‘going out’ outfit, Susan is without a doubt a good person to borrow clothes from. Or you know, steal — either one. She knows at least one of us will end up in one of her pieces, or an entire outfit rather than our own clothes. So, we decided to give you in the inside scoop on how she gets ready for a night out.
Oh alright, girl. See? This is why I steal her clothes.
How does this outfit make you feel when you step out in it?
SW: When planning an outfit for a night out, it’s not always about showing skin – less is not always more. This bodysuit is one of my favorite pieces because it has a high neckline and long sleeves, but it’s sheer, which makes me feel sexy and flirty, and not like I’m showing too much.
I can pair this with black jeans and a pointed heel, or for a more subdued night look, I can pair it with my boyfriend jeans and a chunkier heel. If I genuinely like my outfit and feel good in it, I’m more confident and ready to go out and have a good time.
You can really see here how Susan incorporates her basic essentials, mixed with some signature pieces to create the ideal “going out” outfit.
If you’re looking for a similar look here’s how to get it:
Susan’s bodysuit is from Naked Wardrobe, army jacket from a thrift store in Paris (there are tons of dope thrift stores in NYC, don’t be afraid to check them out), denim skinny jeans from H&M, suede heels Steve Madden, and hand chain from a boutique store (also all over the city, go explore!).
If you’re still feeling a bit lost while peeping into Susan’s closet, and don’t know where to start, no worries:
What is one piece of advice you would give to other women out there who want to develop or change their style?
SW: Building your wardrobe takes time. You can go on a shopping spree in one day and drop hundreds on new things, but I think a real style is collecting your pieces over time. It’s also important to keep in mind that, for fashion, quality is better than quantity. It’s okay to invest in that super dope leather jacket or new suede boots because they’ll be worn to the grave.
But overall, you have to know yourself and what feels right. You have to know your OWN style and know the vibe that you want to give off. Fashion is all about vibes, and everyone has their own — don’t try to be anyone but yourself.
I’ve been watching this girl shop, change styles, and create what it is today, and even she has me rethinking how I’ve been going about creating my wardrobe. So, if you’ve learned nothing else from digging through Susan’s closet with me, take this — be YOU. Create the style that YOU are most comfortable showcasing, that makes you feel confident, and puts out all the vibes you want people to catch on to.
And when all else fails, don’t forget to have fun while building your wardrobe, because this shouldn’t be a stress-inducing process.