When people talk about the off-duty model uniform, the first image that probably jumps to mind isn’t Kendall or Gigi‘s tightly curated, monochromatic ensembles, but rather the superbly effortless, girl next door looks that can regularly be found on Karlie Kloss. Most recently, the supermodel brought her inimitable brand of all-American, cool girl style to an event in collaboration with Nordstrom at the University of South Carolina, throwing an epic shoe party to celebrate all the graduating seniors and help them put their best foot forward (pun definitely intended) as they take their first steps out into the big, bad world of being a certified adult. Two thousand USC seniors received a $100 voucher towards shoes at Nordstrom as well as foot massages, screen-printed totes, and a DJ so everyone could break in their new kicks on the dance floor. Amidst all the footwear-centric madness, Karlie also found time to sit down and talk with us about her style, her favorite kicks, and how to pair them with every single thing in your wardrobe.
How would you describe your personal sense of style?
I like simple, chic pieces that are versatile. So my wardrobe is a combination of staples, like a great leather jacket, a great trench coat, a perfect pair of skinny jeans. Simple and classic, but I love a bit of edge with the accessories.
Is there one piece of clothing in your closet that you think perfectly encapsulates that aesthetic?
I really love sneakers. The thing is, I’m over 6 foot, so I love the fact that I can wear flats and it fits in with all of the trends. I think either the perfect ballet flat, sort of chic and simple, or like an Adidas Superstar, any kind of Adidas sneakers or Stan Smiths that are cool but classic. Being so tall, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and I feel like I’ve just figured out how to wear sneakers with basically everything from jeans and a t-shirt to a ball gown.
Do you have any styling tips for other people who want to wear white sneakers all the time?
Get a good water repellant and have multiple pairs of the same shoes because it’s just inevitable that they won’t stay white for too long. But I’m just naturally more athletic and sporty, so I think pairing sneakers with a cute little floral dress or high waisted Céline trousers, whether it’s dressing it up or dressing it down, the chic sneaker look can work. I think it’s got more personality and lets be honest, it’s just really comfortable which we love.
Are there any other shoe styles that you’re loving for spring?
I love an ankle boot with not too high of a heel, an ankle skimming boot either in suede or leather. I think that’s also a really good staple that you can wear in the spring or in the fall with a cute baby doll dress, something more feminine, or you can wear skinny jeans and a leather jacket. It’s the same thing as the sneakers, you can dress it up or dress down and just have a cool attitude.
And it saves you from buying a new pair of shoes for fall!
I’m all about less is more.
What is a tip or trick that you’ve learned from a photo shoot or on the runway that you’ve incorporated into your real life?
I’ve learned that with high heels on the runway, when you’re walking in the show, you’re wearing these high heels that are like the first ones to be produced in the collection. They are brand new and so to not slip or fall on the runway there all these little tricks. You can score the bottom of the shoes by taking a pair of scissors and scratching the bottom of the high heel, scratching the ball of the foot. That definitely has saved me from slipping on the runway, knock on wood. And just all around good blister protection. I have a huge kit on me to prepare for the shows that’s full of bandages and everything you might need. I have it with me at all times. You never know.
What inspired you to start your YouTube channel?
I wanted to start a YouTube channel because I wanted to have a way to show and tell what I experience for my job when I get to speak and travel. I really wanted to have another way to communicate that was more than just one picture or 140 characters or whatever. Also there is such an amazing community on YouTube. I’ve really learned so much from watching YouTube videos and it’s just a really powerful medium that I wanted to be a part of.
What’s your favorite video you’ve done?
I think one of the first ones that I did was backstage at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and it was just really fun. It was before I launched my channel and I was just bringing my camera around with me everywhere and capturing moments. It’s really special to look back at these videos and see these very real moments. I think that’s one of the best things about virtual diaries or video diaries like the one I have.
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I imagine while it’s this behind-the-scenes glimpse for your followers, it’s also like a fun time capsule for you of this one moment in your life.
Totally, and there is just so much that happens, my days are so different. That’s a part of my job, like today I am in South Carolina, tomorrow I’ll be somewhere else. I’ll be in 5 different cities in 7 days, so there is a lot that happens and it’s really awesome to have a place to put it all, to put it in a time capsule.
No wonder you love sneakers with a schedule like that!
Yeah, with travel like that! Easy on, easy off for TSA security lines.
What has been the most meaningful or inspirational moments with the girls that attended Koding with Karlie?
It’s hard to pick because it’s all the best moments. Last summer, we had 21 scholarship winners and each one of them were just young women and to watch them go through this process, starting the two week summer course and being overwhelmed and intimidated by how challenging learning to code can be, and then by the end of it seeing how proud they were seeing what they built. It’s this switch that goes off in these women’s brains, and in all of us when it’s something that you overcome and then you get it. It’s a really empowering thing to be able to do something you didn’t think you would be able to do, to prove to yourself that you can do it. No matter what that thing is, it’s a really empowering feeling.
Are you going to use any of Karlie’s spring styling tricks? Sound off below!