She’s a self described “trendoid” who’s worked for some of fashion’s most well known publications, and just landed the job is seemingly made for her. Tracey Lomrantz Lester is the new women’s editorial director at our favorite exclusive online shopping destination, Gilt Groupe. We were fortunate enough to sit down with Tracey during her recent trip to Chicago to discuss everything from vintage shopping tips to meeting her idol, Joan Rivers, as well as getting the inside scoop on a special sale she’s curated on Gilt.com tailored specifically to CHICago!
Welcome to Chicago! We know your heart belongs to New York, but have to ask, how does the style in Chicago stack up against NYC?
First of all, Chicago is more accessible, which I love. What you see real girls wearing on the street are things anyone could wear and try. I love that. For Chicago winters you girls definitely get a little bit more bundled up with than we do, and in general aside from this group of chic girls I’m running around with today the heels tend to be a little lower in Chicago. I love that New York affords you the opportunity to get all dressed up and nobody looks twice.
You’ve been at GILT for 2 months now, what projects have you been working on?
One of my favorite projects, the first thing I really started on when I got to GILT is called the ultimate dress shop. It’s a permanent place for dresses on our site, and each week there’s a rotating theme. For instance, right now it’s maxi dresses. It really answered what our members’ biggest request, which is always dresses. For the first 2,000 dresses we sold in the shop we made a donation to Dress for Success. This project tied together a lot of things I’m passionate about with the philanthropic aspect. I’ve been involved with Dress for Success for a number of years.
What sets GILT apart from the numerous other “flash sale” sites?
The number one thing is the brands that we work with; we have an incredible roster of luxury designers. As far as I’m concerned we have no competition in that space. Gilt is also a great style resource. People turn to us to see how to wear things and what’s on trend right now.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my personal style as Eclectic. I love to wear a mash up of things. If I’m going really girly in a dress and high heels I like to put one masculine thing on whether it a big chunky watch or a fitted blazer. I just like to have a real mix of things. I also like to shop a ton of vintage. I love the idea of wearing something that has history behind it, and incorporating some vintage with some modern to get a look that’s a mish-mash.
[When we met Tracey she was wearing a vintage army jacket, J.Crew belt, Chloe skirt, Christian Louboutin shoes, Louis Vuitton handbag, and Vintage jewelry]
Any great tips for shopping vintage?
First of all don’t be married to the idea of any one label or any one era. Go in with an open mind. Think about how you could pair in with other things that are already in your closet. When you pick something out think can I imagine three other things in my closet that this would go with right now? Also, always turn things inside out! When you’re an amateur you’ll get a piece home and think it’s great and then realize the lining is totally busted or something. Check all the seams really carefully. Do your research online. I like to spend a lot of time on eBay and Etsy checking out what price points are before I go out to a vintage store, because I want to know what I should be paying for something.
What are your go-to brands when you’re looking for a “splurge” or “save”?
I would say my favorite splurge brand is Celine. Save your pennies! I remember my first pair of Celine pants were the most immaculately tailored thing you can imagine and I was afraid to wear them they were so beautiful. Celine is for sure my favorite, but also Christian Louboutin, you can never go wrong with a pair of his shoes.
As for a “save” brand, some of my favorite dresses that I’ve bout on Gilt are from Alex + Alex. They’re the kind of thing you could wear to work or wear to a cocktail party and you’ll always look really ladylike and polished. Their price point is great!
What are your thoughts on trends and/or being trendy?
I’m definitely what my friends call a total “trendoid”. The make fun of me because anytime there’s something new I need it- I’m going to wear it. So I kind of have a fearless attitude towards fashion. If I look silly, who cares, it’ll be over and then I’ll try something new. My approach is usually with accessories because then you’re not making a huge investment. So try the trendy handbag, or the metallic shoes- something I’m loving right now! I got mine at Zara for $70. I like to do trends in small doses, but I try everything. As long as you’re anchoring them with other classic pieces it works and won’t look costume-y.
So tell us, what trends do you love right now?
Black and white! I’m obsessed with it right now. It’s so classic but feels fresh this season with all the graphic prints and really mod inspired pieces. I’m also really into all of the ladylike looks we’re seeing right now. For instance fit and flare dresses. I’m a girly girl. I love lace and pastel, all the traditional things one associates with spring feel really fresh right now. Also, white! I was hesitant to jump on the white trend because I’m the kind of person who can’t have a cup of coffee without getting it all over the place, but I’m really loving a crisp clean white look right now.
Was a career in fashion always the plan, or was it a happy accident?
I’ve always loved fashion. I remember when I was in third grade I used to write out my outfits for the week every Sunday night. I’ve aIways loved fashion, but never necessarily thought of it as a career path. I went to journalism school at NYU, and while I was there I interned for a very short-lived magazine called Vitals it was a spin off of Details. It was a luxury lifestyle magazine with a shopping twist. I started writing fashion pieces for them and it became my niche. People began thinking of me as a fashion writer. After that I became a writer at the NY Daily News, a great paper. I mostly covered fashion and beauty. That was the first time I went to fashion week and covered all the shows and after that I thought this is it- I’m a fashion person. Then I became a freelance writer at style.com when it was in its infancy. I was a party reporter, which is the best job you could give a 25-year-old girl in New York City. I loved it! There was a lot of competition to be my plus one around that time. I then became an editor at Elle where I covered fashion news. I worked at ELLE.com, which was my first real digital experience in a full time position. It was a time when fashion people still turned their noses up at digital, and obviously they couldn’t have turned out to be more wrong. That turned out to be a great career move for me. I moved to Glamour in 2008, where I was their fashion blogger and then moved to contributing style editor where I did a lot of television. I had an absolute blast there! I stayed at Glamour for almost 5 years, and then just two months ago I moved to GILT and became their women’s editorial director, which was a really great move, I’m so happy there.
Tell us about your involvement in GILT’s magazine, DuJour. What are some memorable pieces you’ve worked on for them?
I had been writing for DuJour before I even applied for this GILT job. Now I have a page in each issue. I recently did a piece for them on the 10-year anniversary of Proenza Schouler, which was a ton of fun! I got to interview the guys, and Julie Gilhart who at the time was director of Barney’s and bought their first collection right of the runway at Parsons. I also did a piece for DuJour comparing the relaunch of Saint Laurent, Jil Sander and Christian Dior, which was a lot of fun too.
What do you think the future holds for print publications in the fashion industry?
I think, I hope, there will always be fashion magazines. There’s no substitute for holding those beautiful glossy pages in your hands. DuJour is actually doing a brilliant job of figuring out both sides of the coin with a full print issue every month as well as a digital companion. I hope that a lot of other magazines will take a cue from that and see how they can exist in both worlds.
Tell us about a surreal fashion moment. Who have you met that made your jaw drop?
My childhood idol, and still idol, is Joan Rivers, I adore her! My very first season covering fashion week for the Daily News I found myself sitting next to her at a Bill Blass show, and I was fighting with myself- do I say hello or not? When I finally got up the guts to talk to her and she could not have been more charming, hilarious, and amazing! I asked her what’s your beauty secret? And she looked right at me and with a big wink said “vitamins”!
That’s amazing! Speaking of beauty secrets… do you have any you’re willing to share?
I use cetaphil to wash my face; I have for years and years. That’s my go to. I use La Prairie caviar cream on my face, that’s my one serious beauty splurge. I’m a drug store beauty brand person, except for La Prairie. That’s the one thing that I seriously need to have. Also, I love Maybelline Great Lash mascara. I’ve sworn by it for years! There’s a reason it’s a best seller. I’m also really into fragrance. I switch them up all the time. Currently I’m loving Stella McCartney’s Sheer and Narciso Rodriguez For Her is one of my all time favorites. I also recently rediscovered a very old Dior fragrance, it’s hard to find, its called Diorella. It’s a very old school feminine floral fragrance.
So what inside scoop can you give us on the GILT sale you’re curating just for Chicago?
So this is such a fun opportunity for me to curate some of my favorite items and work with our fabulous sisters at GILT City to get some offers that are specific to Chicago. When I think of Chicago in spring I think of walking around and really enjoying the city, so everything is really tailored to that. We’ve got things like lots of great trench coats, flat sandals, and some fun Missoni umbrellas- that’s definitely a must have item, I know it’s been raining a lot here. Also, some great offers from some of my favorite places in Chicago, like Siren Salon. We also have a deal for classes at Barre Method- Those classes will kick your butt, they’re so amazing! The sale is exclusive to Chicago members, and has everything you need for a fabulous spring in the city.
What can you tell us about GILT’s upcoming collaboration with Kate Spade?
So this is an enormously exciting partnership for us! Starting May 22 we’ll have 6 items that will change every month that will be available on our site before they’re even available in Kate Spade stores. Our members just can’t get enough of Kate Spade! it’s just such a fun colorful whimsical brand. This is our way of giving our members a little exclusive something extra that they can’t get anywhere else.
So, I must be addicted to GILT, because I recently had a dream I was at the GILT office in NYC! I must ask- what is the work environment like? Is it as fabulous as I dreamed it was?
I love our offices! To have to go to work everyday is so much fun. We have a really open seating plan, so everybody including CEO’s and assistants all sits in the same area together. It makes for a really creative and collaborative environment, which is such a big part of GILT. Our office is really modern. I’d describe it as industrial meets chic. There’s a lot of great light. We also have a foosball table, bean bags and video games. There are always a lot of happy hours, it’s very fun!
Thank you so much for sitting down with us today! What ‘s on the agenda for the rest of your time in Chicago?
Whenever I come to Chicago I can’t wait to eat and drink! I’m a big foodie. Tonight we’re trying Girl and the Goat, and I always stuff my face with pizza whenever I’m here.