Andrea Linett Talks Mom, Strangers, & The Book That Celebrates Them All



andrea-linettSince discovering and celebrating personal style is R29's MO, Andrea Linett is practically a woman after our own heart. Besides her remarkable career, which includes (but is not limited to) helping create Lucky magazine, serving as creative director of eBay, and now as creative director of Michael Kors, Linett has the trained eye for finding inspired looks and inspiring individuals just about anywhere. From her addictive and captivating site, I Want To Be Her, Linett now presents a beautiful, printed tome of the same name.

I Want To Be Her, currently available to update your coffee table, documents Linett's journey of discovering her personal style — a task some might agree can include trials and, yes, sometimes errors. Along with the help of illustrator Anne Johnston Albert (of Lucky mag fame, as well), I Want To Be Her is inspired by family, friends, co-workers, and strangers that have left an impression on Linett. We snagged a one-on-one with the author and fashion maven who filled us in on how she conceptualized the illustrated fashion book, how comfort is key, and how anyone can help shape your style POV — be it dear-old mom or that guy, over there, on the street.

Jump to page two for our Q&A.

Photographed by Michael Waring
i-want-to-be-herWhat made you decided to move I Want To Be Her from web to print?
"I had thought of the idea as a book at first, but I was too busy to get it done. When I left Lucky, I decided to do something similar to my page, Fashion Babble, that Anne illustrated every month. It was supposed to be a drawing of me in a different look, and I figured we could do something similar but with girls I spotted around town. Then, we got the book deal, and Anne was busy doing that, so I started shooting real people with my husband (photographer Michael Waring)."

This book documents a slew of inspiring style via inspiring women, and you begin with your mom. How has she helped shape your style?
"For as long as I can remember, my mother has always thought that how you presented yourself to the world was important. She has great taste and was just always crazy about good clothes. I loved going shopping with her — I could sit for hours watching her try on cool stuff. She was a very successful creative director/business woman and she believed clothes were super important in the way that you come across in business and just in life in general. And, she always made sure to stay really fit so she could wear whatever she wanted."

What are some of the most surprising sources of style inspiration that you've come across?
"I can find inspiration anywhere. I guess the most surprising ones would be the men — no one dressed like Bob Dylan in his heyday. He’s actually a huge influence. And I discover new things all the time — right now I’m a little obsessed with Karlheinz Weinberger’s book Rebel Youth. He shot photos of kids in the '60s, like a Swiss Bruce Davidson. These kids had insane style, and the attention to detail was unbelievable."

We love the illustrations in the book! Why do you choose illustrations, as opposed to photographs, to present your stories?
"Anne is just an amazing illustrator. She really gets the subtleties about people — the way they stand, their facial expressions — even from my descriptions from my memory. And people really respond to them. I also wouldn’t be able to get photos of most of the people in the book since a lot of them were strangers. Also, this way they can live on exactly how they are in my mind. Maybe they wouldn’t look as perfect in real life!"

You've made many exciting career changes — from Lucky to eBay and now Michael Kors — have these transitions changed your personal style? Have the I Want To Be Her kind of women changed as you've transitioned?
"I wouldn’t say that my jobs have changed my style, just that they were all at very different times in my life, and I reinvent myself a teeny bit each season, anyway. I feel like I still get inspired by the same kind of women — ones who look effortless and cool. They’re all classic in their own way."

Finding your personal style really is a process of coming into your own. What's the best piece of advice you could give for women who are doing just that?
"You’ll never look right if you’re not comfortable. Once you realize what feels natural to you, stick with it, but don’t be afraid to steal a little of other people’s styles from time to time to keep things fresh. Chances are, other people are stealing a little from you, too!"

"I Want To Be Her," by Andrea Linett; $12.36, available at Amazon.

Photo: Courtesy of Abrams