Like you, Gemma Style misses summer, hanging out with friends, and having an excuse to wear lipstick. Shortly before the release of her sustainably-minded sunglasses collection for Kenmark Eyewear, Styles chatted with NYLON, and in the midst of reflecting on her time spent in quarantine, she realized that she was truly nostalgic for a time of warmer weather and friends.
Longing for summer aside, Styles revealed that she's been attempting to use this time as a means of trying out new things. She has an idea for a possible cross-stitch kit — crafting industry, take note — but with that idea not coming together, she's been focused on self-care, making time for a manicure, and the launch of her sunglasses.
For her new role as designer, Styles wanted to challenge the idea of fast, disposable fashion, and instead created a collection of eyewear that a customer can wear and enjoy for years to come. She wasn't focused on what's trending, but instead, what someone would love, and it's an idea that she's also been practicing in her daily life, too. "I’ve found running through a checklist is so helpful in making me pause and think," she said of adding new items to her wardrobe. "I don’t want to sound preachy about it, that’s just what I’m working on being better at. A tip though, unsubscribe from fashion brand mailing lists, it’s just waving temptation under your own nose. If you actually need something you’ll go looking for it."
As for how to make a similar change, Styles suggested starting small. "Listen and learn, be aware of what your impact is and open to reducing it. Make the changes you can, but don’t expect to be able to do every single thing perfectly. It’s too easy then to think that if you’re not the perfect environmentalist that there’s no point," she said. "Make manageable changes that work for your life, until they become a natural part of it."
Catch up with Styles, and enjoy the summer playlist she curated to brighten up your winter listening, below.
What is your relationship like with beauty, and how has it changed or evolved over the last year of continued change?
I have quite a body focused relationship with beauty. When I think beauty, I think about skin and hair more than I think about products. I’ve had a very frustrating few months with my skin, so I’m finding that quite difficult.
Working on the campaign for my sunglasses weirdly made me think more about beauty, thanks to the pandemic. We shot everything outside, of course, and during the restrictions at the time I couldn’t get anyone to do my hair and makeup, which initially was worrying. It’s not something I’ve got much skill with. When we looked at the pictures, I was pleasantly surprised because it looked like what I see in the mirror and not a professionally painted version. It’s definitely made me feel like looking ‘me’ is better than trying to look like someone cooler.
What are the beauty products you're still reaching for right now? And, when things do get back to "normal," do you have a look in mind you'd love to try?
The thing I’ve been reaching for most this year is spot treatments. The second half of this year my acne has been out of control. I hopped on the sulphur train and got the Kate Somerville EradiKate Acne Treatment, which I like, but am getting through way too fast. I’ve been doing a lot of masks at home. My go-to ones right now are Dr Roebuck’s Tama Healing Mask and Biossance Squalane + Glycolic Renewal Facial.
Makeup wise, my core essentials are concealer (Marc Jacobs Accomplice is the best color match I’ve ever had, so really easy to splotch on) and something to fill my eyebrows. I rediscovered eyelash primer a couple of years ago and still use that under my mascara when I want to look a bit more made up. It’s so much better now than it was in the 2000s.
I wore red lipstick for the first time in ages a couple of weeks ago and forgot how much fun it is, so I agree with you there. I’d really like to get better at doing an interesting eye look. I’d like be able to do some kind of blendy, shimmery eye that feels more like occasion makeup.
Looking back, is there a beauty look or trend you tried that didn't work out like you planned?
Every few years I do that classic thing of thinking I want a proper fringe and then instantly regret it. Basically I’ve always wanted Zooey Deschanel’s hair, ideally from the first season of New Girl. Sadly, just because my hair is long and brown does not mean I can pull off that fringe. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson I did not learn on the first try.
Other than that I’d say impatience with hair growth; when I was growing out my hair several years ago I got extensions to try and skip the mid-length phase, but didn’t think about how much you kinda have to thin out your own hair to blend the extensions in. When I took them out, my hair was long but it was so straggly at the ends (and bleach blonde, which was somehow worse). Cutting corners was not the way to go.
You created this new collection of sunglasses with Baxter and Bonny. so, when you think of warmer weather, what's your favorite part about summer, and what's your routine like then?
When I think of summer, I think of leaving the kitchen doors open, letting my hair air dry, walking home late when it’s still light out, frozen margaritas in paper cups at a roof bar somewhere, big BBQs round someone’s house and sitting out until everyone needs blankets. I think summer is when all my favorite kinds of socializing happen, it’s so much more chilled out.
Wow, this is making me so nostalgic. I’ve missed my friends this year.
What songs were on your feel-good summer playlist? The season might be long gone, but we can always enjoy a good summer song.
OK, wow, that is a left field question for November. I’m wearing two jumpers right now. I can give you some songs I played a whole lot this summer.
- "Bummer Summerrr" - Talkie
- "How Long" - Ace
- "Superposition" - Young the Giant
- "Harlem Shuffle" - Bob & Earl
- "Home By Now" - Bombay Bicycle Club
- "Sunflower, Vol. 6" - Harry Styles
- "So Says I" - The Shins
- "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" - Elvin Bishop
Now that you've designed sunglasses, what's your next dream collaboration?
I’d love to make sunscreen. Or actually, you know what, I keep looking for good crafting projects to do in lockdown, something to keep my hands busy and off my phone in the evenings, and I can only find really twee or bright ones that I wouldn’t then want to keep in my house. A Gemma Styles cross stitch kit, that’s what I want. Not sure I’m dreaming big enough there, but the heart wants what it wants.
How have you been keeping yourself feeling good, and making time for self-care in the midst of this year? What advice would you give for people figuring out how to take care of themselves?
I’ve gotten more into nail care over these lockdowns, mainly because it feels like a bit of a ritual to get all the stuff out and spend deliberate time on. Not being able to do much else with your hands means a bit of an enforced time out and less mindless scrolling as well.
My advice would be to try and focus on what self-care is — something you intentionally plan to take care of your mental or physical health. Self-care and skincare aren’t automatically the same thing, so if you’re slapping on a face mask and then rushing around doing other stuff and not actually focusing on yourself during that time, it’s not so much a self-care activity.
Think through what do I need right now, what do I want, what is going to recharge and support me? That might well be running a bath or painting your nails or doing your skincare routine but it could also be getting enough sleep or going to the doctor when you need to, or playing a video game because you enjoy it and it’s for you.