Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, the L.A. ladies behind the site, have turned the practice of red-carpet-outfit critique into an art form. And thanks to a shared obsession with all things Little Women and Pacey Witter, an uncanny knack for dialogue-writing, and a real distaste for pants-less celebs, they basically leave us thinking to ourselves, daily, why are we not friends with these women yet? So, to remedy that, we tracked Heather and Jessica down and made them tell us everything we wanted to know about the celebs they're most consistently disappointed by on the red carpet, their own real-life "fug or fab" moments, and all of the intel around their latest novel, Messy.
Who are your current red-carpet style obsessions?
Jessica: This isn't really a style obsession, but I am pretty obsessed with Kate Middleton's hair. I would kill someone to get that hair on my head. (Look at it: SO BOUNCY. SO SHINY. It's just my platonic hair ideal.)
Heather: Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield. I'm easy. I'm in. They were so cute together — they weren't pretending not to be together, but they weren't licking each other's faces and slobbering, either. They were just clearly having fun with each other and very happy to be enduring that gauntlet with their loved one. Elizabeth Banks has also been killing it lately. Both in the sense that she's worn some fantastic stuff, and in the sense that her missteps have been terrifically entertaining — wackadoo, yes, but amusing and bold. I appreciate that.
Whose red-carpet style has surprised you the most this year?
Jessica: Hmmmm. This is always hard. It changes from week to week. I have to say I wasn't exactly surprised, but I was pleased by how great Elizabeth Banks looked at the Hunger Games press junket. I am constantly surprised by how slightly off-kilter Jessica Chastain looks, but what is really surprising is that I continue to be surprised by this. I like her so much; I just always want her to look amazing.
Heather: Shailene Woodley has taken a weird, inauspicious plunge since her awards season run. Reese Witherspoon has infatuated me with her pregnancy adorableness. And Miley Cyrus is still ... Miley Cyrus, fashion-wise, but when she cut off those hair extensions and went with the cute bob, I actually applauded at my desk. That was a huge step.
Biggest red-carpet disappointment of the year, so far?
Jessica: I'd say the aforementioned Chastain, but I loved that McQueen she wore to the Oscars, so I have to give her a pass. I would have to say that I am disappointed that Christina Hendricks hasn't managed to hire a stylist who can make her look as amazing on the red carpet as she does on Mad Men. We all know it's possible! Why hasn't this happened yet?
Heather: Kristen Wiig. She is supremely talented, and she's so pretty, but half the time she's in blah monochromatic beige, and the other half of the time, she's in something ugly. It's a prime example of someone getting famous enough for the major designers but then not using a critical enough eye to make her choices. If you look good, nobody's going to care whether it's Tom Ford or Target. Actually, that's not true — if it's Target, we might love it more because of how awesome it is when a celebrity shows up looking cute in something that's actually attainable for those of us who make mortal paychecks.
Which starlet are you most itching to make over?
Jessica: I think I just accidentally answered that question with Hendricks. She's so gorgeous — SO gorgeous — and she looks so great on Mad Men. I want her to look that great in real life, too!
Heather: Wiig. Maybe Shailene. Miley, possibly. I'd love to get Britney back out of bandage dresses. Oh, and if I can change things up a little ... Cobie Smulders looks great on the red carpet and looked gorgeous in The Avengers, so why can't the hair and makeup and wardrobe people on How I Met Your Mother do that for her? She should complain.
Which celebs do you guys most consistently disagree on when it comes to style?
Jessica: Hmm. We don't really disagree that often — and if we do, it's definitely a matter of degrees. I think it's more like, "Huh, I don't hate that too much," rather than, "OMG YOU ARE CRAZY." Regardless, I'm always interested to hear Heather's take on things, even if I don't totally agree with her.
Heather: Maybe Michelle Williams? I tend to be harsher on her wardrobe than Jessica is. But again, it's usually a very small separation, and even when it's not, I like letting her pieces do their job on me and see if she can talk me into coming around.
What are your own personal most embarrassing style moments?
Jessica: Oh, God. Where to start? In junior high, I had amazing hair that was almost but not quite a mullet. My bangs were very high and spikey. I mean, they were awesome at the time, but in retrospect ... oh, honey, no. Also, in 10th grade, I decided that I needed to have Demi Moore's Ghost haircut, which really only works if you have Demi Moore's face, which I do not. I never should have had hair that short. Apparently, I make a lot of questionable hair decisions, which may in fact continue to this day. I also went through a period of wearing those float-y/flammable hippie skirts that they sold at Cost Plus World Market, and my favorite one actually had bells on the hem. I can't imagine how annoying that was for everyone.
Heather: It took me a long time to figure myself out, and frankly, I'm still not really quite there. We had stirrup pants in the early '90s, lots of flannels when I was in college, some pretty ugly business-casual attempts when I worked at a newspaper, some fabrics that weren't as breathable as they should have been .... I was never into fashion or style, so I had no idea what I was doing. At all. And, I didn't have the budget to fake it. On this front, I've been desperately trying to pick myself up by the bootstraps since about 2003, when we started the site, which is also about when I discovered I could walk in heels pretty well. Fixing myself started from the bottom up, basically. I often find that celebrities could do the same. Start with a killer pair of shoes and then try to do them justice. My blisters don't let me live by that rule all the time, of course, but still. If I were into meditating, that would be my mantra. Because I would be a pretty shallow meditater.
Jessica: Not that many real-life celebrities, actually! I think if anything, we were inspired by Clueless -- Brooke is cosmically related to Cher Horowitz, and I'm sure she would agree with that statement. And Max certainly has some of Mean Girls' Janis Ian in her.
Heather: There is a line in Spoiled where we describe Brooke as being not exactly beautiful, but so well-groomed that you wouldn't notice. That was inspired by Paris Hilton. But, that's about all Brooke has in common with her — well, she's blonde and she's tan, and she wants to be famous, but my belief is that Brooke is shrewder and has more depth, and also doesn't own a thousand pets, nor date Greek shipping heirs that share her first name. Yet.
What's one plot point you ended up editing out that you secretly still miss in Messy?
Jessica: I always miss the jokes we have to take out because they're only funny if you really remember the '90s, which many young adults do not. This is not from Messy, but in Spoiled, we had this whole joke about Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (namely, about his epically bad accent), and our editors had to be like, "....yeah, no 16-year-old girl is going to get a Kevin Costner joke."
Heather: I can tell you that there's a turban at the end of the book that we fought very hard to keep in. It's funny the things you attach to — in every book you have to decide whether you're attached to it because it works, or just because you hate cutting stuff that makes you giggle. If it's the former, fight for it, and if it's the latter, consider whether it's truly necessary or whether it's slowing things down or making a character do something they otherwise wouldn't. In this case, it may have been a bit of both. But we felt the turban had a place.
The premise of the novel, teen girls being transplanted into that celeb life, out of the blue, feels like every young girl's fantasy. What was the inspiration for you? Secret childhood fantasy, perhaps?
Jessica: My big childhood fantasy was winning the gold medal in the ladies gymnastics all-around in the Olympics — maybe that will be our next book! — but I think every girl has had that moment where she wondered, "What would it be like if I were best friends with a movie star?" At least, I did. I spent a lot of time daydreaming when I was supposed to be paying attention in math class.
Heather: Some of it, too, is rooted in that old chestnut that stars are just like us. Not in the Us Weekly sense ("They Pump Gas!" "They Chew Food!"), but from the point of view that even people in very special and rare situations still have regular problems. Molly, in Spoiled, is dropped into a fancy new life, but she still has to grapple with fitting in and finding friends, and figuring out how much of herself to compromise — if at all — in order to survive in this new universe. And in Messy, Max is forced to lower her carefully built defenses against Brooke and her ilk. They're all common scenarios that are just framed by unusual circumstances. The idea being that the answer to the question, "What would it be like if I were best friends with a movie star?" or even "What would it be like if my dad were a movie star?" is generally going to be, "Well, hopefully, you would still understand the value of being you."
Who and what are you reading this summer (blogs, books, mags — everything!)?
Jessica: I am a big, big reader — especially during summer, when there isn't as much distracting TV. At the moment, I'm in the middle of Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies, which is the second book in a trilogy about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. It is so good. I've got our friend Pamela Ribon's book You Take It from Here up next, and I'm also finally going to read A Visit from the Goon Squad. I know I'm late on that one, but I wanted to get it in paperback rather than on my Kindle (because it has a chapter that's all in Powerpoint, and that doesn't translate as well on the Kindle), and it took me awhile to remember to actually buy it while I was out. I'm also looking forward to Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and the new Stephen King, and I also just bought a bunch of books about a variety of true crimes (that's my most guilty-pleasure reading). I have to stop buying books until I've read all of these.
Heather: I'm constantly on SI.com, ESPN, or Grantland. During hockey season and the Kings' Stanley Cup run, I was all over Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog. Summer is also when I bliss out on cooking magazines, because my husband is on hiatus from work and so we can do a lot more grilling every day. Bon Appetit and Cooking Light have been great for that, as has the blog Good. Food. Stories. Because I was just traveling, I got a little reading done, finally. I knocked out The Night Circus, started Top of the Rock (that's my current read for when I'm on the elliptical and need something where I can be sweaty and slightly unfocused and still not miss anything), and am starting both Gillian Flynn's latest and an ARC of "Ten Girls To Watch" by Charity Shumway (it comes out at the end of this month).
What's next for you guys, both on the site and in terms of other projects?
Jessica: We are figuring out our next book right now! I'm sure our editor is reading this and thinking, "Thank God!" since it's been taking us a little while to break the new story. It's not a Spoiled book, so it's starting fresh. But we're almost there. As far as GFY goes, we just hope to keep doing what we're doing, and keep entertaining our readers, who we really love so much. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for them, so keeping the site fresh and robust will always be a priority for us.