Welcome to the sixth installment of Style Thief, where I steal the clothes off queer style icons’ backs. Metaphorically, that is. I’ll try figure out just exactly what makes queer style icons tick by breaking down their look into itty bitty bite size pieces. I get a lot of questions about how to look like different celebrities/characters, so I’m finally tackling the question “How the hell do I dress like that?”
Header by Rory Midhani
Last week I took a break from bringing you my favorite fashion icons so we could take a look at a whole bunch of spectacular New Year’s Eve styles. This week we’re back on track. Today we strip down Carrie Brownstein. You might know Brownstein as the guitarist and vocalist of Sleater-Kinney, but I just know her as the only cast member of Portlandia I’d like to sleep with.
Carrie – I feel like I’ve seen enough Portlandia that we’re on a first name basis – has a perfect blend of tomboy and girly-girl. Where femme style meets butch style and the two decide neither has enough energy to go all the way and they leave the room to smoke a cigarette. She has basically two looks: casual and fancy. How nice is that? Carrie’s style is perfect for those of us who want to escape from labels, not because we feel confined by them but because, gosh, who has the energy?
What I love about Carrie’s casual look is that she keeps it so simple and yet maintains a cohesive look. She is perhaps best known for rocking shorts with tights far before it became a thing. The key to Carrie’s shorts is making sure they’re not too tiny– this is not the time for denim underwear. I suggest a non-pleated pair that cover the top third of your thighs. I know that many parts of the world are in the dead of winter (um, roughly half the world). That’s why the tights underneath are so great! You can get them in thick wool and never worry if someone is going to see up your shorts while you’re high kicking.
If shorts with tights sounds out of your zone, you can also go with classic straight leg jeans. Carrie wears casual blue jeans like nobody’s business and proves that the world need not be made up of jeggings and baggy pants. Her jeans are snug and low slung, but scream more rockstar than runway.
On top, Carrie is usually seen wearing either a button-up or femme blouse. She openly embraces both the stiff no-nonsense attitude of a button-up and the flowy free-spirit of a loose ruffled blouse. For button-ups, she generally picks a plaid or a striped oxford with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Alternatively, she picks short sleeved femme blouses that, while high collared, are just sheer enough to see a dark bra peeking through.
Though she mixes it up occasionally, Carrie’s color pallet is simple. Blues, blacks, grays and reds. This color simplicity is partially why Carrie’s outfits appear so easy and yet totally put together.
Real Talk: Carrie Brownstein cleans up nice. Whether she is at an award show or the premir for the new season of Portlandia she never misses the mark. Once again she keeps it simple. Sticking to the aforementioned color pallet, she wears no-frills A-line dresses.
The key to stealing Carrie’s more formal look is a dress with sleeves. Carrie tends to go for a short sleeved dress with a crew neck neckline. While a short sleeved dress by no means looks casual, is does still manage to look easy. This is complimented by little to no jewelry. Often she pairs a simple gold bracelet with her classic messy bob. In a style market currently overwhelmed by excess, there’s something to be said, even while dress to the nines, for simplicity.
I wondered, however, how Carrie managed to keep from looking blah. How exactly did she keep those simple dresses from blending into underdressed? Similarly, what was holding her casual looks together. taking her look from clothing to outfit? It dawned on me that it’s all in that awesome lipstick.
Anyone can thrown on some jeans and a plaid and walk out the door. I do it all the time. But a bright, bold red lip says “Oh this? This was intentional.” And intention? Intention makes all the difference. It lets people know you don’t dress this way by accident. This isn’t something that just happened. You are intentionally dressing like a tomboy femme because that is what you deem attractive and worthy of your time. That this is a look you crafted and care about.
Carrie Brownstein’s look is all about combining the hard and soft. Stiff jeans with messy hair, tight shorts with loose blouses. She proves you can be a femme in jeans and an oxford or tomboy it up in a dress.
If there’s a queer style icon you’d like to see stripped down in Style Thief, send me an ASS message, ask on my formspring, or tweet me @Ohheyitslizz
Oh god oh god oh god *hyperventilates*
One time I was close enough to Carrie Brownstein that if I lay down I could have touched her shoes. It was pretty much the best moment of my life.
Man, she’s a fucking pro. I saw her at a St. Vincent concert once. 30 bucks says she’s dating Annie Clark.
Oh my god, can you even imagine? SO PERFECT. I can’t even handle the mental image I’m getting right now.
Why did you say this. Why did you raise all of my hopes for the universe so much higher than they ever deserved to go? I’m not sure I can ever forgive you for all of the unwarranted pleasure I’m getting from this mental image.
PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN
can this be someone’s New Year’s resolution
I want those chino shorts from j.crew!
This is pretty much exactly the style I rock all the time. I just need to perfect the lipstick aspect now, but lipstick is hard!
Try a chubby lip pencil or slimmer twist up lip crayon instead of old school lipstick in a tube! There are also some formulas that are packaged like shiny lip gloss but have a different finish, like this creme lip stain.
Right now, you are the love of my life. Thank you!
Ah, thank you also! This is exactly the sort of thing I need to figure out.
seconding the thick lip pencil! as someone who ocassionally likes bright red lips but also the kind of person who puts makeup on once a day and never reapplies, they’re perfect. also, lip stains. buy benetint. you can put that shit on your cheeks and on your lips and it’s perfect and not too bright and it stays on forever.
I think the easiest, boldest red lip you can get is with a Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella, Red Square or (my personal match) Dragon Girl. Beautiful!
Yes! This is exactly my dilemma. Lipstick scares me, and last time I went to a proper makeup counter the girl laughed at me because I said I’d never used bronzer (I’m so pale I worry I will look like an oompa loompa and am also totally ok with being that pasty). It kind of scarred me.
I want to own basically everything listed here though.
Okay good now my New Year’s Resolution can be to look more like Carrie Brownstein
YES YES YES!
Lurving the style icon series. But can get it get any better than Carrie Brownstein?? Have you peaked too soon?!
I realize that I’ve spent half my life trying to dress like her…I love her style.
At the 2012 Wild Flag show at the Fillmore she was wearing this perfect red blouse that I wanted to rip off of her body for reasons that had nothing to do with femme-on-femme (for once) and everything to do with GIVE IT TO ME I NEED IT IN MY CLOSET NOW.
It was the first time I was ever, like, Carrie, please just tell me where you got that fucking shirt. And then all the femme-on-femme stuff, but first the shirt.
This one: http://www.wireimage.com/celebrity-pictures/Mary-Timony-Janet-Weiss-and-Carrie-Brownstein-of-Wild-Flag-perform-in/143120864
It was transcendent in person.
Whoa. Whoa! You are totally right about the lipstick. That’s it! And it’s so simple, too! So many exclamation points! THANK YOU!!!!!111
As a former Olympia resident and riot grrrl-wannabe, I have been lusting after Carrie for a while, but Portlandia coming along and giving me an excuse to look at her for hours has really taken this to new heights. I had never thought to describe myself as “tomboy femme” before, but I now realize that is exactly my style! and so many awesome suggestions! THANK YOU!
One of my favorite articles! Carrie Brownstein has got it going on. And you’re right, it’s the lipstick!
Do you know where Carrie’s longsleve globe shirt Cavan be purchased? She is featured wearing it on the 2015 Portlandia is everywhere poster and in this article http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/lists/15-best-portlandia-sketches-20150107 . I love that shirt and can’t seem to locate it. Thanks!