The Curated Closet: Katya Moorman, Photographer, Editor, and Adjunct Professor

Katya Moorman mixes thrift, vintage, and current brands focusing on sustainability and activism (discover Pyer Moss if you haven’t already), to create her punkish-glamour style. Check out her favorite items in her closet and how—via humor and some fabric paint—she made them her own.

So, who are you? :)

I’m a photographer and adjunct Professor at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I am also the editor of the soon-to-be-launched website No Kill Magazine. Right now it's on Instagram but I’m working with a small team to turn it into a full on website that will be a mix of fashion collaborations and activism with a dash of punkish glamour— stay tuned!

For six years I had a successful street style blog, StyleDefined NYC, that had a cult following with NYC club kids. After I sold it, I became the Director of Communications for a sustainable fashion incubator and it was there that I learned about all the problems stemming from fast fashion. Our goal with No Kill is to make everyone THINK about the consequences of their consumption while still having fun with fashion. Be your own NO KILL ZONE—don't kill the planet or exploit people. :)

How do you describe your style? 

It’s hard to describe my personal style but I’ll steal from myself above and say there’s a little bit of punkish glamour. My hair is always bleached to near white and frequently I have navy “low lights” in my bangs and the sides shaved. I love nail polish but it chips off within days of a manicure so I’ve decided that’s part of my “style” as well. LOL.

Living in New York and having to be able to run around cobblestone streets and through the subway system, my clothing has to be pretty functional so I’m a big believer that great outerwear, sunglasses, and shoes are kind of everything and you can wear jeans and a t-shirt underneath it all.

What are your favorite pieces in your closet?

Slow shutter Stella.

Slow shutter Stella.

One favorite item is a silk dress by Stella McCartney that is almost like a cocoon in the back. It’s something that needs to be moving to really see it (in my opinion) so I had my girlfriend shoot with a slow shutter to capture the movement. I love buying Stella because she is at the forefront of sustainable fashion, but her clothes are expensive. I bought this for a wedding in Italy. I had been looking for a dress for weeks but everything felt too retro/overtly feminine to me with fitted bodices and flared skirts. Then I saw this on THE OUTNET. It was a super sale/final markdown which meant no returns were possible and there was no way I could know if it would fit. I decided to take my chances figuring that if it didn’t work out I could resell it on eBay for what I bought it for. Luckily it was perfect. Then I needed to get shoes that could match it in drama and found these Marni platforms on TheRealReal. They are a half size larger than I normally wear but they ended up working as well.

Street style success. (Okay, no more alliterations…)

Street style success. (Okay, no more alliterations…)

When I first moved to the East Village in the 90s I saved up my money to buy two pairs of Daryl K stretch leggings, one in white and one in black. They sat really low and had a little flare at the bottom and I LIVED in them. I used to go to all of her sales and got to know her a bit. One day I was looking for a dress and she had me try this on. It was a sample and I don’t know if it was ever put into full production but I love it. There’s no zipper or button to get it on; it goes right over your head and I kind of have to shimmy it past my shoulders and over my hips because it’s made of Tencel which is not a stretch fabric so you would think it would be uncomfortable but it’s not. There is a strip of leather like belt to give it some shape and there’s a great raw edge down the center. I don’t know how she does it. I think it’s genius. I’ve had it for years and intend to keep it forever. It’s weirdly timeless.

Smart hack - paint your old beige summer hat black. Also meet her dog Le Dauphin (aka Phin).

Smart hack - paint your old beige summer hat black. Also meet her dog Le Dauphin (aka Phin).

This is me trying to be Audrey Hepburn. Okay, not really but I am obsessed with wearing large hats for sun protection in the summer and this has completely influenced my style. You can’t wear a massive hat with just anything and look okay. I bought the hat in Northern Michigan near my family’s lake house. It was beige and after a year I decided that was boring and bought fabric paint and painted it black. The top is Marni from the TheRealReal and the shorts are Everlane. (I’ve been trying to shop at Everlane for basics because they are all about being ethical but honestly I haven’t been happy with the quality. The shorts are stiff regardless of washing and I had to return a cashmere sweater that pilled immediately. This is disappointing when you’re trying to shop more consciously which is why I more go the route of TheRealReal and vintage stores.)

I’m wearing Birkenstocks because they are ridiculously comfortable. In college you would not have seen me dead in Birkenstocks but I think because of those Celine sandals a few seasons back they have become “fashionable”. I would like to say I’m beyond being influenced but of course I’m not—and in this instance being a fashion follower is making for very happy feet. Oh and the sunglasses are by Johnny Fly, a sustainable sunglass company from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Oversized warmness.

Oversized warmness.

This is just a classic leather jacket that I bought on layaway at a thrift store when I was 20 years old. It was used then and it’s a men’s jacket so it’s really too big—but it’s ridiculously warm.

Sustainable, statements - sold! (Oops, going to stop…)

Sustainable, statements - sold! (Oops, going to stop…)

Kerby Jean-Raymond, the design of Pyer Moss recently won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award.  When I had StyleDefined NYC I always profiled new designers and I am still in the habit of paying attention to them. Mostly I look for brands that have sustainability as part of their mission statement but the other thing that attracts me currently are those that are making social statements. Pyer Moss falls squarely into this camp and the clothes aren’t made in fast fashion factories. His most famous t-shirt says, “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture”. When I saw the one I’m wearing above I had to have it.

Not Vetements and not taking fashion too seriously.

Not Vetements and not taking fashion too seriously.

This is a little DIY. My uncle had a huge collection of Members Only jackets and his sons were getting rid of them while he was out of town. There is something so totally normcore about Members Only jackets that I said I would take the black one. (They were totally aghast—thinking that the jackets were beyond fugly.)

I joked that they looked like something that would be “made” by Vetements because they are known for things like their DHL t-shirt that looked pretty much like a DHL t-shirt that they were selling for hundreds of dollars—which I think is obscene.

As a joke I stenciled “Not Vetements” on the back. I had no idea what, if any, reaction I would receive. Mostly people don’t know what it means and don’t even ask but those who get it stop me on the street and the reaction has been unanimously positive.

Bird friends.

Bird friends.

This is a rare moment of me without a hat! I am wearing a maxi dress by Waverly Grey and adidas by Stella McCartney tennis jacket. The dress was from Rent the Runway. I tried having a subscription as a way to have a sustainable wardrobe but I found it too…girly? Mainstream? I don’t think I’m super subversive but for whatever reason I never found enough that I liked and it took way too long to look through everything. This dress was great though.

What's your advice on finding a style and building a closet you love?

Only buy something that you are absolutely in love with whenever possible. I will ask myself, “Is this something I’ll wear when I’m 80?” and if it is then it’s good. (I mean, I plan to be a very stylish 80 year old and I hope you do too!)

Consignment, vintage, and thrift stores are your best friends. But also find a local tailor or seamstress who can help make things fit better if needed.

The other thing I’d say is invest in things that feel good on your skin. I can’t believe the difference good organic cotton makes. I currently have t-shirts from Cuyana that are amazing and pajamas from Calida.

The pajamas are men’s because they make them with pockets which leads me to another piece of advice—if something is gender agnostic, like some outerwear and pajama pants for example, look for it in men’s because it is often better made. I think doing that has been part of what has shaped my style as well. Large men’s cotton button-up shirts can make great pajamas too, or a cool dress if worn with a belt.

Thanks, Katya! I want all of your clothes.