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Leandra Medine Keeps It Super Simple

I know myself to be curious and volatile, and experimental, and exploratory, and often, when I can't scratch the itch of these traits, I turn to clothes and style and fashion to help me embody their vicissitudes.

In 2020, after a few years of working with the master watchmakers at Audemars Piguet, Carolina Bucci applied the movement and precision found on the inside of watches to ornamental fine jewelry. In the same way that one looks at a clock face without thinking about the gears turning behind it, Carolina Bucci wanted to design jewelry that  embodied complex craftsmanship in a simple form. In short, she wanted to Keep It Super Simple, naming her new collection ‘K.I.S.S.’ Here, we ask creatives around the world how they keep it super simple.

In 2010, while finishing her liberal arts degree and experimenting with her own personal style, Leandra Medine started a fashion blog called Man Repeller. As the name implies, it set out to celebrate “style trends women love and men hate.” Almost overnight, it became a sensation, offering an antidote to the seriousness of the fashion industry, and resonating with women (and even men) everywhere who wanted to have fun with clothes simply to please themselves. Two years after its inception, Medine was featured in Forbes's "30 Under 30" as one of the year's "most influential trendsetters," and if you’ve ever used the phrase “arm party,” you know why. Over the years, the blog continued to expand, growing from a solo enterprise to a staff of about fourteen. Man Repeller became a brand in its own right, and Medine also wrote a memoir called Seeking Love, Finding Overalls. Last summer, however, she decided to make a change and shut the blog down for good after a decade. In some ways, her life became simpler her only employee is herself now, and she works from home. But of course, it’s never that simple. She's now focusing on her personal newsletter, and spending her time with her husband Abie and their twin daughters, Laura and Madeline.

What does ‘simplicity’ mean to you? What makes it more than just ‘plain’ or boring?

Lately, simplicity is the same as a sort of satisfying stillness to me. It's different from plain or boring because both seem to connote a sense of lack; that something is missing. With simplicity, it's the right amount. What it is, it's just enough.

Cutting vegetables

What about your own surroundings; how do you bring simplicity into your home, if at all?

Routine is one of the best ways to embody simplicity for me. When it’s baseline chaos inside your head, having the sure thing of a schedule can really help with grounding and overall heightened focus. One example of a routine would be: Every morning I get up at 6:40 a.m., stretch, and then go to my kids room to wake them up. I make breakfast, get their school snacks and lunch ready, (hence the fruit), get them dressed, send them to school, and then go for one lap of a run around the reservoir.

What’s the simplest object in your home that you use the most?

Equal Parts white frying pan. I last used it to make a frittata for breakfast a couple Saturday mornings ago. The least conventional way I have used it has been to...I don’t know...cook salmon?

Is there an aspect of your life that you’re actively trying to simplify? Why and how?

I'm always trying to simplify my formula for getting dressed. I love fashion and clothes, and self-expression through clothes, but often find that I can get really swept up in the material minutiae of getting dressed. The ideal wardrobe to me is a capsule of no more than, like, 15-20 pieces that are interchangeable enough for me to create infinite outfits without ever needing too much space to do it. I think one of the reasons I am so attracted to maintaining a wardrobe of sure-fire hits that are mostly basic is expressly for the jewelry. Quieter clothes lend themselves to saying something louder with jewelry. They give the jewelry a platform to really express and expose themselves, and also, I am so enchanted by how an outfit like a plain black dress can transform, depending on the jewelry. With beads you might look like you’re going to the beach; with lots of metal like gold/silver, or some pearls, you might look like you’re going somewhere black tie. Maybe that’s dramatic, but I have this idea that jewelry is just like a punctuation mark. Is it a ? Or a ! Or a . Or a , ...

Where does simplicity not fit into your life? Do you ever actively try to avoid it?

The double-edged sword question! For as much as I yearn for a simple capsule wardrobe, I also know myself to be curious and volatile, and experimental, and exploratory, and often, when I can't scratch the itch of these traits in too extreme of ways, I turn to clothes and style and fashion to help me embody their vicissitudes. I think there is probably a balance somewhere between capsule and completely out there and in fact, I've probably already struck it.

What’s your go-to simple recipe?

Roasted salmon with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. I put the salmon on a baking dish, drizzle it with olive oil and some sea salt, then put it in the oven at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes. When I take it out I usually add basil or cilantro, or some other herb (the unsung hero of making your food look fancier and taste better, or maybe just to me) and serve it with a lemon or lime rind. Hold on, are herbs the same as punctuation the same as jewelry!?

How does simplicity fit into your wardrobe, if at all? What is/are the simplest item(s) in your closet that you wear the most?

My style, really, is actually pretty simple: I'm a pretty steady jeans and polo shirts person. I think I’d be ok if you told me I could only wear a button down shirt and jeans for the rest of my life (but because you have not I’ll keep wearing tank tops and sheer skirts!) In this way, my style is pretty simple, which is partially probably why I gravitate so much towards jewelry. I love how a group of gold bracelets and a pinky ring look paired with a cuffed sleeve or the way a strand of beads compliment a collar. When I’m wearing something a bit more ambitious (not as simple), I often rely on trustier one-and-done pieces.

sitting in the living room

What does simplicity mean to you in terms of styling? How do you achieve simplicity with an outfit?

Simplicity in style = when you feel like you're dressed really quietly, but find yourself coming back to the outfit often and over a long period of time.

How does simplicity apply to your own jewelry collection, and how you wear it?

Simple jewelry to me = the pieces that sort of become part of you, because you never take them off.

Which piece did you choose from the Carolina Bucci’s K.I.S.S. collection, and what do you like about it? How does it embody simplicity, in your mind? How do you plan on wearing it?

The medium K.I.S.S bracelet in yellow gold. It's like a hair rubber band (but more luxurious) to the extent that it's just there, wrapped around your wrist. Sometimes you don't even remember you have it on.

What’s your approach to simplifying your closet?

Monthly clear out with the goal of creating three bags: one to sell, one to donate, and one of things that remind me of friends, to give to them. Most recently, I bagged up like five duffels of clothing. Half are going to a shelter in Brooklyn, some to a consignment store near my apartment, and a bunch to family or friends — people I thought of when looking at those garments. I guess the most specific recent thing I can think of having given away is an old plaid jacket to my cousin Stef. Something about the lapel reminded me of her. She loved it, which felt good to know. I don’t think I regret anything I’ve given away REALLY, but the thing that comes to mind is a pair of medium wash true blue denim Levi’s cut-offs. High waisted and very, very short. They weren’t fringe hem, which I think is what I liked about them, but I also couldn’t figure out how to wear them when I had them — like they weren’t distressed, but they certainly weren’t dressy. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately as I age out of the rips and holes, but reject the possibility that there is an alternative to jean shorts.

What’s one simple thing you did today that made you feel good?

Three minutes of deep breathing while holding my hands at my chest. That was so nice.

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