When you first meet Kai, you’re instantly swept up in the wave of her natural joie de vivre – and awed by her truly unique style. Aside from having one of the biggest smiles in New York, she also has a talent for pulling together outfits in inspiring ways! She creates looks that are always surprising and decidedly cool.
So after meeting her last winter and completely falling for her style, we visited her concept store Sincerely, Tommy in Brooklyn. It’s an exciting hub of emerging women’s fashion, with everything curated by Kai herself. I find it so interesting that some of the most fascinating stores are now in Brooklyn – it makes shopping in NYC a whole new experience.
For today, she showed us how she styles some of the designers along with pieces from her personal wardrobe…
Describe your style in three words.
Comfortable, classic, chic.
What would you say is your ultimate summer look?
A pair of high waited Levi’s shorts with a cotton or silk white button up tucked in, and a pair of Birks or flats. I always have to have my gold Longines watch and some simple gold accessories. My mom just got me this Sophie Bille Brahe earring that goes along the ear — it’s perfect for everyday.
And the most important accessory for summer?
My bike — I love wearing a cute outfit and being able to ride my bike with it. Something about it feels very liberating, like I’m not restricted to only wear casual wear while riding. I love seeing stylish women on bikes.
You’ve worked in fashion and retail for a long time. How has that influenced your personal style?
Well, retail consists of being on your feet a lot so I am always wearing a cute pair flats. I interact with people all day, whether it’s a customer or a sales rep so I always wear something that translates my personal style as well presenting a good representation of the brand I am building — Sincerely, Tommy. I love to stand out — I think people, customers, trust you more when they see that you’re not scared to take risks with your personal style. Overall, I dress for myself. I feel sexiest when I am wearing something loose-fitting and it always boosts my confidence for the day.
Your store Sincerely, Tommy opened last year in Brooklyn! Congratulations!! Do you feel like your style has evolved significantly since you took on this new role?
Thank you, and absolutely. I feel like I have more fun in my wardrobe choices. I carry all of these amazing new designers who inspire me to wear things that I might not have before. I love to play around with prints and textures. It’s funny because the store is in an area where people aren’t used to seeing “fashion,” so I will walk down the street, going to the store, and the neighbors will make all kinds of comments like, “Ooh! That’s really different”. I always have to laugh. I’ve always been into clothes, but now I am around clothing that is literally like art. Every day is a new opportunity to top the last outfit.
What personal styling advice do you give to your customers?
Have fun! We attract a very special kind of woman. One who knows what she likes and how she likes to dress. We always encourage our customers to take risks and more so to look at their Sincerely, Tommy buys as investment pieces.These are timeless pieces and can easily be added to any wardrobe.
You stock many emerging, local designers. Who are some of your favorites?
That’s hard because I feel like I’ve created a special bond with them all. I would say Cistanthe is one of my favorites. She travels around the world to create her pieces and everything is almost always handmade making it that much more special. She combines inspiration from traditional garb from different cultures and creates her own version of it. There’s nothing else like it from what I’ve seen.
I really love Georgia Alice as well — a new line from Australia. Her collections are always really chic with an affordable price point. She makes clothing that makes you feel sexy without having to show a lot of skin. We just picked up some really wonderful lines from Côte d’Ivoire, Loza Maleombho, London-based womenswear line Roshi Porkar, and Arthur Arbesser, who is getting a lot of praise right now. I am excited for Fashion Week because we picked up about 4 new lines — they’re so different to what we have now.
You keep your hair natural (so beautiful!). Do you find this influences the way you dress, or how you put a look together?
Yes, tremendously. I have a lot of hair and it’s big! I feel like my hair is my biggest asset as in, that’s what everyone notices first when they see me. Sometimes I feel like I have to tone it down because of my hair or else I get too much attention. I am really picky about what silhouettes I wear when my hair is out because I like to feel proportioned, if that makes any sense. I enjoy having a hairstyle that isn’t extremely popular, but I don’t want it to identify me. I’d much rather have fun with my wardrobe and use that to express my style and personality, rather than my hair.
What is the one item in your wardrobe that you love the most?
These forest green high waist leather shorts that I got in Paris a few years ago. They’ve never gone out of style and they’re so comfortable. I literally wear them with everything.
When it comes to style, what’s most important: comfort, beauty or innovation?
Comfort, definitely comfort. Beauty is what you make it and, to me, I feel most beautiful when I feel comfortable; in my skin, clothes, etc.
Who is your fashion icon?
I don’t really have an icon vs women who inspire me. I have always admired Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Bianca Jagger, Rei Kawakubo, Angela Davis, Ashata Shakur, my mother and grandmother, and so many more. I love women who carry themselves with ease and confidence, who know who they are, embrace the journey of life and seek experience outside of their environment.
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Look 1 / Striped shirt and pants: Sincerely, Tommy. Look 2 / White shirt: Acne; Jeans: Vintage Levi’s; Sneakers: Isabel Marant. Look 3 / Off-shoulder top: Georgia Alice; Black pants: Not Aligne; Shoes: H&M Moroccan Slides. Look 4 / Dress: Georgia Alice Dress; Tee: Unfortunate Portrait; Heels: Dries Van Noten; Clutch: Larissa Hadijo; Watch: Longine; Ring: ByDori; Necklace from Maryam Nassir Zadeh store.