My Uniform by Susan Kaufman

 

Photo: Shawn Young

Meet my friend Susan, a former Conde Nast fashion editor, and founding editor-in-chief of People StyleWatch. She has recently switched gears to found one of Instagram’s most popular accounts, @skaufman4050 where you will see the most inspiring homes and buildings from New York City to the Hamptons and Paris (really, wherever she may roam) — trust me you will become addicted! Since Susan changed careers, her daily style has shifted too, so I asked her to share everything she wears and uses pretty much every day. p.s. for more on Susan, check her out and peek inside her closet in The Cool Factor.  And now in her own words:

In my previous life as an editor at a fashion magazine, I would get dressed up to go to work every day. I had a closet full of four-inch heels and more black pencil skirts and pants than I could count. Although my look has changed since those days, from dressy to casual, what’s remained the same is the idea of a “work uniform”. Now, in my life as an Instagrammer, my current uniform of Stan Smith sneakers, jeans and khakis, and easy button-down shirts, has replaced the Louboutin stilettos, black skirts, and trousers of the past. And I couldn’t be happier…plus my feet thank me! 

My Instagram “work” now entails doing some serious walking—whether it’s shooting charming NYC streets and facades, or beautiful Hamptons homes, so practicality and comfort is key. My style has always been pretty classic, but what I hope makes the difference between boring and stylish are the right proportions. I always pair an oversized shirt with a more fitted bottom or vice versa. I’m on the petite side so I never want to be overwhelmed by my clothes; I tailor or cut my pants right above the ankle if I’m wearing flats — I like to have a bit of skin showing between the hem of my pants and sneakers — it’s a good visual break and is more in proportion with my height. I also stick to a simple palette of white, tan, navy, gray, and black, (and of course blue denim), so that almost everything I own can be mixed and matched. 

I’m also pretty simple when it comes to how I accessorize. Since I’m outside so much, I can’t go without a protective sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. (Of course wearing a mask now takes care of the bottom half of my face.) If I’m just venturing out for a short time, a small crossbody bag holds what I need, but if I’m planning to be out for many hours, I need something that can fit a water bottle and my Mophie. (Portable phone charger.)

So even though I’m dressing for comfort now, I never want to sacrifice style. Once a fashion editor, always a fashion editor…

Here are some of my favorite pieces:

My Ganeaux white button down shirt (worn in the pic above) is perfect for really hot days because it’s super light and airy and has a totally relaxed fit. Classic but cool (in both senses.) — call (631) 267-7717 to purchase. I also love Xirena boyfriend shirts—they’re made from a little bit thicker cotton and are super comfy. (I have a few in white, navy, and black.) Sometimes finding the perfect simple classics are the hardest. I look for button size, pocket placement, and fit. And these two brands are simply the best!

I have worn Frame Le Skinny De Jeanne blue jeans to death in every season. They have just enough Lycra to be slim fitting without being too tight. I cut them above the ankle, and let them naturally fray. They’re also perfect for tucking into boots when the weather gets colder. My other go-to summer pants are J.Crew chinos in khaki from their boy’s Crewcuts department. Perfect fit for me and lightweight. 

For shoes I either go for Stan Smith sneakers — I went really wild and opted for the navy logo instead of the classic green. it’s the little details… or Birkenstock Gizehs in matte black which are super comfy for short walks, and in black they have a more sophisticated feel. If I could get away with bare feet in my sneakers, I would! But because I’m walking so much, I really need a comfortable sock, and these are pretty inconspicuous.

 I found the bag that I’m wearing above at Merci in Paris and it’s the perfect size for my iPhone, credit cards and keys — here’s a similar, slightly larger one from Baggu. I also love my Carhartt camo cross body bag, which holds everything I need and then some. Water bottle, sunscreen, small wallet etc. Plus it’s super lightweight! (I also have it in black.) I hate a bag that’s already heavy before you’ve even put anything in it. And most importantly, the crossbody leaves my hands free for shooting.

I’ve tried tons of bucket hats, but my Carhartt bucket hat has the sturdiest material and perfect fit. My husband actually found it for me since he’s always been a big fan of Carhartt. Now I am too!

I always wear sunglasses, which are such a personal thing. They really have to fit your face shape and I’ve found that a classic aviator style works best on mine. Plus they never go out of style. My Cutler & Gross frames were on the expensive side but they are such great quality—I’ve had them forever, and they’re actually prescriptions. With my coloring I like a gold frame with a light plum tinted lens.  Ray Bans are also great if you don’t want to spend a fortune, and come in a variety of sizes for a perfect fit — they’re the quintessential aviator!

I feel naked without Nars Tinted Moisturizer. I love the consistency, and even though it’s lightweight, it really evens out my skin tone and gives a subtle hint of color, and it has SPF 30. I also layer La Roche-Posay’sAnthelios 60 Ultra Light Sunscreen on top of it before I go out. 

One thing that hasn’t changed is my nail polish. Chanel Ballerina is the perfect natural tone with just a hint of pink. I like a touch of shine on my nails, but I still want them to look natural. Tip: I just apply one coat so it doesn’t get too pink.

 

 And lastly, I have I have this Simple Modern water bottle in stainless. It’s small and chic, and keeps me hydrated.

 

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27 Comments

  1. One of my favourite posts ever! I love Susan’s style.

    Thank you so much, Andrea. I’m sure I’ll come back to this post often.

  2. Her classic style is so me. I always gravitate towards neutrals, especially grey, except on the rare occasion I find something stylish in a jewel-tone which suits my olive complexion. I also want to live in whatever doorway she’s standing in.

  3. I’ve been following her on Instagram and never realized she was the editor of People StyleWatch! Fun account.

    Susan, why do you layer the sunscreen OVER the tinted moisturizer and not under? It seems counterintuitive.

    1. Haha! I know it does…

      I always put on my tinted moisturizer first thing in the morning, and by the time I’m ready to go out I put on the sunscreen. A dermatologist once told me that tinted moisturizer with SPF really isn’t enough protection and to add a higher level sunscreen on top if I planned to be outside for any length of time. As you can see from my sun hat, I’m pretty sun-phobic!

    2. I think, generally, you’re supposed to put the sunscreen last, whatever skin regime you’re following.

  4. I am also completely neurotic about the sun!

    A dermatologist told me the same thing about a moisturizer with SPF not being sufficient. She said to put the actual sunscreen on about twenty minutes before you’re about to go out the door.

    Susan, I like the fact you’re not wearing a high rise jean – it’s nice to see for a change!

    1. Thanks, Mary! Because I’m a little shortwaisted, high rise jeans cut me off in a way that I don’t think is very flattering. I always think it’s more important to wear what works for you rather than follow trends….

    2. So true! There’s such a high-rise craze going on and I often worry I look dated not going along with it.

      But I’ve tried high rise too many tines to count and I’ve finally surrendered – they simply aren’t flattering – short torso.

    1. Such an amazing, talented, gorgeous lady who oozes such chic style! Thank you for showing us a glimpse of Susan on the other side of the camera! Her instagram has been a blessing in these difficult times, never failing to post beautiful photos which allow me to dream a little of one day visiting New York and the Hamptons. Loved the article and the title ” I want to be her”! Thank you again Tricia (Sydney, Australia)

  5. This is my first comment though I’ve followed for a while now, and I consider this blog my favorite get-through-COVID life raft. (Actually I’ve followed since the Sassy days– my get-through-high-school life raft!) So thank you, Andrea! And, a question for Susan: how do you style khakis like the ones you mention above? I always look frumpy in them, but I’m sure you don’t.

    1. Good question, and thanks! Khakis, like any basic, can easily look dowdy or frumpy. For me it’s all about proportion, fit, and what you pair it with. It’s also so important to work with your body type. So for me, I cut the hem right above the ankle and let them fray so they don’t look so conservative, and I buy them one size up so that they sit more on my hip than around my waist. I’ll usually do a partial front tuck with a roomy tee or shirt (like the one I”m wearing in the photo above). Again, nothing too oversized as I’m short. The idea is to look relaxed–nothing too tight or fitted. Shoes can make a huge difference too–they change the look of everything, so think about wearing a cool lace-up sandal or sneakers….Hope this helps!

    2. Thanks, Amaya! I style them very similar to my jeans look up above. I buy them one size up so that they are bit more relaxed and low slung, and I also cut them right above the ankle and let them fray. Again, to me it’s all about fit and proportion. When I’m not in sneakers I like to pair them with sandals that wrap around the ankle. Hope this helps!

  6. I loved this post and Susan’s style- very much what I aspire too. Just ordered the Jcrew boys slim fit chinos- took a real stab on size though! Went with 14 as I’m usually a 27. Hope this works- thanks for the great post and blog!!

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