Rachel Zoe knows a thing or two about looking put together. The stylist has dressed A-list celebrities from Kate Hudson to Anne Hathaway to Jennifer Garner, while inspiring a generation of millennials to emulate her personal boho-chic meets boss lady style along the way.
Now that we’re able to gather with friends, and drink and eat with each other after almost a year and a half of being shut-ins, you wouldn’t be alone if you needed a little help getting off the couch and out of your sweatpants. So we went to the source to get some advice. Travel + Leisure caught up with Zoe, who offered some wisdom for how to look and feel put together, especially at this crucial juncture when we’re really struggling to ever pull on a pair of jeans again.
“I think the idea is that we have to kind of baby step back into it,” Zoe told T+L in a recent interview. Admittedly, and not surprising whatsoever, Zoe was not someone who fully embraced sweats during quarantine. (“I don’t wear them. I don’t own them. I’m not against them. It’s just personal preference.”) But the style maven can still relate to being a little rusty at what she calls “the full-on.”
“I think it’s kind of navigating your own way and kind of tiptoeing into it as opposed to diving, you know, face first,” Zoe said. “[D]o a slouchy trouser and your favorite t-shirt with a pair of flats. You don’t have to be in, like, a body contrast and stilettos just yet, right?”
Right. Absolutely right.
Zoe believes that everyone just has to take things at their own pace and be true to themselves. If you’ll never be caught dead in a slinky bandage dress, then lean into that and find what you feel best in. A wide-leg pant or a flowy dress can be just as chic.
“Honestly, you do you, but most importantly, don’t lose yourself,” the fashion entrepreneur sagely advised. “I think the days of do’s and don’ts are just so over. Especially after the year and a half that we’ve had, I think you just find your way and what you’re happiest in ultimately.” Is this her giving us permission to never wear skinny jeans again? It feels like it.
As for how to translate personal style to your travel ensemble, Zoe has “always been a big believer [that] you find what looks the chicest but is still the most comfortable.” Ever practical, Zoe recommends wearing black while in transit, which will forever look chic but also hides things well — a genius tip for those, like her, with young kids, or those, like myself, who always manage to spill on themselves no matter what. For winter, a cozy cashmere sweater dress and oversized scarf, and in summer, a lightweight, voluminous maxi dress are her go-to travel uniforms. Both, frankly, sound perfectly elegant and perfectly comfortable.
Now, where to show off our newly-emerged-from-pandemic stylish selves? Zoe, who has had a long-time partnership with Tanqueray Sevilla Orange, also knows a thing or two about entertaining. But while it feels fantastic to finally gather with friends again, we’re not totally out of the woods yet. Zoe’s advice for your next summer soirée? Keep it “as spread out as you can and… the more intimate, the better.” She’s also loving “edited” gatherings right now — keeping things smaller, without being overly formal. “I don’t want to go to anything that’s too formal and uptight right now. I think everything should just be fun and easy and effortless,” Zoe said.
Speaking of edited, easy, and effortless, the perfect summer cocktail to serve at your next gathering is all of those things, and was developed by the stylist herself. It’s a Sevilla Orange Spritz and you heard it here first: it’s bound to give Aperol spritz a run for its money (recipe below).
Tanqueray Sevilla Orange Spritz
- 1.5 oz Tanqueray Sevilla Orange
- 1.5 oz lemonade
- 3 oz sparkling wine
- Garnish: orange wheel
- Glassware: white wine glass
Preparation: Combine ingredients over ice and stir to combine. Garnish with orange wheel.
Zoe especially likes serving this refreshing flavor of Tanqueray to guests because it can “acclimate to your entertaining needs.” As in fashion, we love a drink that pulls double duty and can go from day to night. “It really works sort of anywhere, like in terms of brunch, lunch, cocktail hour, happy hour, you know, like a nice sort of dinner party. It just depends on what you want to make,” she explained.
And, of course, for the style queen, aesthetics are just as important. One look at the gorgeous bottle and you’ll want to have it on your bar cart, too. Zoe puts it best: “What you drink has to be chic, right?” Absolutely.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Karen Chen is always planning her next great escape and loves the beach more than anyone else you know. See her prove it on Instagram @karenichen.