New York style fixture Lynn Yaeger is one of the fashion world?s most recognizable personalities. A prominent fashion writer, she spent decades at the Village Voice and regularly contributes to Vogue, T The New York Times Magazine, and Travel + Leisure. She talks with L-atitude about what makes her tick: style, travel and her favorite city, Paris.
You have a very distinctive signature look. How did Lynn Yaeger become "Lynn Yaeger"? Describe your fashion philosophy.
It evolved over the years. It is a very flapper look. Originally, I wore a lot of vintage clothes. I thought that as I got older, I would get more and more conservative, but the opposite happened.
It was a way of working out my obsession with clothing and style without actually having to pay attention to trends, because most of the time they didn't suit me. It's hard to say how these things happen. It's a very organic process.
I have a two-part style philosophy, and it may seem like the two parts contradict each other but they don't. The first part is that you should really feel free to invent yourself and wear whatever you want. And the second part is that you should spend a lot of time in front of the mirror to make sure this is the perfect rendering of what you think you want. I really like it when people make a huge effort.
You are known for your hilarious observations about fashion and everything that influences it. How has humor shaped your view of fashion?
It's ALL humor! I mean not all, but I really do try to take the long view of the things, see what's fun about it, and the absurdities. It's a question that cuts both ways. I think people like to read things that are funny.
How do you think you have influenced the New York fashion scene?
I always hope to inspire young people who may be feeling like they are not accepted, or they are a little funny, or they are a little off the mainstream. My hope is that by being so out-there and so much of an individual myself, that will inspire them. Also, every time I see a tulle petticoat on the runway I'm like, ?They copied me!"
What are your favorite shopping destinations in New York?
I love the Fifth Avenue department stores. I would be lying if I said I didn't. I love both Bergdorf and Barney?s. I like the Comme des Gar?ons store. I like the Garage flea market on the weekends on 25th street. I go there every weekend. I'm a really compulsive shopper. I'm in stores all the time. I'm a daily shopper, let's face it. I don't buy that much. I feel like I'm there just for the experience.
If I only had a day in New York, what are the things I must do? Eating, relaxing, anything.
I'm not much of a eater. I would go shopping in the morning at the department stores, and if it was the weekend I would go to the flea market on 25th street. I think it's fun to just walk around downtown in the Village or Nolita. It's a great walking town. If you have never been to Century 21, you should go there.
What's your pick for the best fashion people-watching in New York?
When the fashion shows are on, outside the shows is great, but the whole town is a fabulous array of people watching. It also depends on what you are looking for: Madison Avenue for rich people all dressed up in the latest styles; Union Square for cute kids.
What do you think about New York Fashion Week's move to Lincoln Center?
I hate change, but I'll just have to gear up for it. I like Bryant Park. We?ll see.
Are there any places you would like to see in New York, but have not been to yet?
I was talking to Kym [Canter, Creative Director for L-atitude] about this the other day and she goes: "We know every place!" But it's not true. Greenpoint, Williamsburg, I bet there are very interesting little shops out there. I don't go out there nearly enough. In fact, I never go out there. I feel like I don?t pay enough attention to all those Brooklyn neighborhoods.
What are your must-haves when you travel? Do you have a pre-packed suitcase?
I have a pre-packed bag with my cosmetics and miniature toothpaste and things, but I don't have a pre-packed suitcase. I don't bring the sort of clothes that seem like they would be easy to travel with -- I bring all my tutus and everything, and this is further complicated by the fact that I don't check my clothes because they are too precious to me. I would have to cram all my clothes into my carry-on, and check the other bag with the things that can be replaced. It's a bit of a nightmare packing-wise.
When I was in Paris last spring, it was really cold and I had my one coat with me. All the Frenchies had their cute little fur coats. I was like: "Damn it! It's not fair!" I was stuck with the same green coat everyday. I don't plan my outfits for everyday, but the items I have with me are usually fairly elaborate.
What is your number one travel destination?
This is the most boring answer in the whole world. I like Paris, France. I know it's ridiculous. I like everything about it: the way it looks, the things you can buy, hearing people speak French. I even like it that the French are so mean -- it's more of a challenge. I also like it when it's not fashion week, arguably even more.
What inspires you when you travel?
I like looking at the people when I go to a new city. I travel a lot because I also write for Travel + Leisure. A lot of times I'll be in the taxi from the airport going to Buenos Aires or Amsterdam, I look out the window and realize I packed all the wrong things --- this is how people look and I?ve got this all wrong. I would see people riding their bikes with a big sweater on. And of course I didn't pack a big sweater. I love to observe these regional differences.
How about any favorite travel finds?
Tons. That's what I do. I go shopping and buy things. I had a rule for a while to not buy clothes, only accessories, because I would buy clothes and it would not be the right thing. Lately, I've going off that rule and bought clothes, some more successful than others.