Seated at Smith Canteen, a petite, rustic coffee shop in Brooklyn, Stacy and Nancy London joined us for a chat on all things style, fashion, and sisterhood. There’s something about sisters and style that is just universal. Whether your sister is one you shared a closet with or fought over clothes with, anyone can relate to this gorgeous pair talking about the fashion choices they made growing up, dealing with sibling envy, and evolving personal tastes. Stacy also shares evergreen style secrets and explains how rental is the future of fashion.
It’s almost impossible to not associate Stacy London with her role on What Not to Wear, a personal style-based makeover show with an impressive ten year run on TLC. But her fashion cred runs deep – she also has had roles as senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle and Editor-at-Large at Shape magazine, as well as authoring a NY Times Bestselling book, The Truth About Style. Her sister, Nancy, adds, “She is, and I mean this with all my heart, one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, if not the smartest. She’s beautiful, she’s brilliant, she has an impeccable eye.”
Nancy is an impressive figure herself as the Co-Founder of Novel Brand Partners, a boutique strategic marketing consultancy. Stacy affirms her sister’s talents calling her “Marketing extraordinaire. Strategist extraordinaire. Lover of dogs.” Nancy exudes a kindness, with a warm grin and is quick to laugh – these two are easy to talk to.
There is a strong familial resemblance between the two, but, in style expression, they couldn’t be more different. Stacy lounges with her coffee cross-legged in a muted spring striped sweater, salmon corduroys, and white booties, next to Nancy, who sits hands in her lap, in a sleek, monochrome, geometric blouse and slacks. They share the same raven hair, but Stacy wears hers loose, long, and natural around her face (with her iconic silver streak), in contrast to Nancy’s blunt, chic, and shoulder-length cut. Their bond is clear as their conversation overlaps, finishing each others’ sentences, and are quick to build each other up after self-deprecating remarks.
Nancy London (left) with sister Stacy London (right)
Tell us, are you more alike or different as sisters?
Nancy: “I think we’re very different. Stacy is more outgoing, I tend to be more reserved. I think Stacy is quicker on her feet, where I like to think about things.”
Stacy: “We share a wit. That definitely comes from our parents, definitely our father. Growing up, she had fewer friends that were much closer friendships, and I had tons of friends and no one I was really close to. But as I’ve grown up, I’m much more like Nancy than I was when I was younger.”
Nancy: “And I think I am much more like Stacy than I was when I was younger. We sort of grew up separately and merged in the middle.”
Were you close growing up?
Stacy: “We joke around about it now, but we hated each other growing up. We were talking about this recently. It might have been the way in which my parents told me I was going to have a little sister. I came home one day and the entire family was sitting in my house, and they were like, ‘You have a baby sister, she’s in the other room.’ Nobody mentioned it to me before she was actually on earth! I was three years old and I thought my mom had gained some weight. So, this little baby is in the other room and I’m like, ‘When does she leave? How long are we keeping her?’
But then we started to become friends towards the end of high school, and Nancy was just starting high school. I think that was the first time we realized we needed to rely on each other a little bit. It wasn’t that we had a sibling rivalry, but maybe sibling envy. We had this weird yin-yang thing, but I envied the things she excelled at and probably visa versa.”
Nancy: “I have a memory [of that time]. I was going to sleep one night, crying, I was just so sad and I didn’t want to go to school the next day. Stacy came over and she gave me a hug and she was so kind and sweet and told me ‘It’s going to be okay.’ The life I thought she had wasn’t necessarily what it felt like to her. There was plenty of room for me to forge my own path and to not feel like I needed to be just like her.”
What was your style like back then? Did you share clothing or a style inspiration?
Nancy: “There were these snap-up sweatshirts with mother-of-pearl snaps. Stacy had a few and I had to have them. There were a couple of things I either bought or inherited from her that I coveted. But no, I would have never snuck in and took things from her closet, I would have feared for my life!”
Stacy: “I always had a flair for the dramatic. I went whole hog into that 80s vibe. We’re talking Sheena Easton in a headband, okay. The cut sweatshirts like Flashdance. What our mom thought was stylish was much more conservative – she liked tweed, long trench coats, Burberry, Gucci, which at the time I was like, Boring! Where’s the neon?! Where’s the thing that lights up? But Nancy was more preppy.”
Nancy: “Yeah for me, the dream was to have the Izod polo shirt in every color. I had to have it in every shade of pink that I would wear tucked into these beige chinos. I don’t know what look I was going for!”
How would you describe each other’s style now?
Stacy: “I think Nancy is very classic. Classic with a twist. She has a great eye for what looks good on her. Even when she wore this shirt today – this is great, it’s so graphic, it’s going to look fantastic in photographs! She may not think she knows what she’s doing. But she knows what she’s doing.”
Nancy: “I think she has truly amazing style, even her apartment decor is so awesome. She picks these things that are funny or witty, but I just don’t see how to put them together like she does. Stacy has the ability to put things together. It’s so polished, it’s an effortless cool.”
Stacy: “My style has evolved. On What Not to Wear I thought I had to dress a certain way to appeal to everybody: the pencil skirt and the floral top and the high heels and that made me look respectable, classic, and gave me the greatest appeal for the masses. But my style was never exactly that. It was a little edgier in real life. I’ve always been drawn to jumpsuits and leather and things with an edge. One of the realizations I came to was, I was concerned about leaving the show and disappointing my fans. I started dressing like myself again and I was thinking I was going to let people down. But that’s the point, your style evolves and it’s only about you.”
If you could picture your sister in any outfit, what is she wearing?
Stacy: “Our dad has a think tank and the last dinner he threw, Nancy looked beautiful. She was wearing a gorgeous sleeveless black sheath dress. If I had my druthers, if I could dress her in anything, it’s not that I would take her out of that dress, but I’d make it backless or low cut. But she’s a little more conservative.”
Nancy: “I immediately see her in specific pieces. A casual leather jacket, but it’s not just any leather jacket, it’s impeccable, it looks like it’s never been worn. And a layering of jewelry and necklaces and maybe skinny jeans. It’s that effortless cool.”
‘Effortless cool’ is the phrase that got a big reaction from not just Stacy, but the rest of us as well. It’s the holy grail of style descriptors, but it’s one Stacy has well-earned. In her career talking to women of all body types, sizes, occupations, lifestyles, Stacy truly understands personal style. Over the course of the conversation, Stacy laid down some quick style gems that we’d be remiss not to share:
- “It doesn’t have to match, it just has to go.”
- “There is no negative self-talk in the way people should dress. I truly believe there is no place for that. I do believe in being realistic with yourself because if you’re not, you’re going to do the opposite of what you should for your body type or wear things that just objectively don’t fit.”
- “I believe you should buy outfits and not just pieces, so you can go home and experiment later, knowing you already have one great look. If you are going to only buy one piece, you really need to know your closet well enough to know it’s going to go with at least two things you already own otherwise, it is a no-buy and you should hold off.”
- “Everybody is always in a fit-and-flare part of their life. It is universally the most flattering cut. It’s for everyone, all the time, at any age, for any body type.”
While we thanked our special guests for spending part of their afternoon with us, Stacy left us with some parting words about why she feels the Gwynnie Bee model is newsworthy:
“Really, I think that rental is the future. Renting your clothes, it’s going to make it a lot easier, it’s going to make a lot more room in your home, you never have to wear the same thing twice. It’s ideal to rent with the option to buy, so that if you wind up really loving something and you know it’s something you’re gonna want to keep in your closet for a long time, like a great coat, or dress, or pair of trousers, you’ll be able to do that.”
Thank you so much to Stacy and Nancy for speaking with us. You can pick up Stacy’s book, The Truth About Style, wherever books are sold. How would your sisters answers these questions? Give them a call for National Siblings Day and let us know what you learn in the comments below. Disclaimer: Gwynnie Bee is not responsible for happy tears or sibling arguments as the result of this post.