Style

On Style: with L.T. Brady

Brady owns the PISTOL nail polish business.
Brady owns the PISTOL nail polish business. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

L.T. Brady started PISTOL polish in 2012 as a subscription-based Internet business. Today the long-lasting nail polish is available in spas, salons and retail stores. Her latest product is Style Saver, a shower cap that doesn’t leak. “I was looking at my own beauty routine and how I could cut corners,” she said. “I love all that stuff and I’m also innately lazy about it. I’m not the type of woman who has the patience to spend an hour getting ready everyday.” Born Lauren Torie, she became known as L.T. to distinguish herself from all the other Laurens in her class. Brady, 30, graduated with degrees in women’s studies and studio art from Tulane University. She moved to Charlotte four years ago, and lives with her husband, Morgan Brady.

Q. What would surprise people about your style choices?

A. I dress borderline masculine for someone who is in the beauty business. I prefer to be covered up. I wear pants even in the summer. I really want to wear a tuxedo to one of the many weddings I’m going to this summer.

Q. Compare your style to that of your peers.

A. I think a lot of women in Charlotte dress very feminine. There’s a cuteness to how women dress that looks great on them but doesn’t work for me. I’ve always been that woman in black.

Q. What’s a fashion mistake many make?

A. Wearing clothes that don’t fit properly, and if the fit is off and you are tugging and pulling your clothes you lose your confidence because you are distracted. The strapless dress is the biggest culprit of that. If you can’t break it down on the dance floor, that’s a real problem.

Q. What’s your uniform?

A. Some kind of concert tee-shirt and a blazer or a leather jacket, depending on the season. Always jeans, and then I slip on sneakers, or wedges or boots.

Q. What piece of clothing was a game changer for you?

A. I have a leather jacket from Zara and I wear it a couple of times a week. It’s black with silver zippers. You can wear it over a dress or with jeans, and I think it’s the greatest. I also bought it in pink and in brown, but I haven’t worn them much.

Q. What do you look for in jeans?

A. Fit and fabric. Some kind of stretch. I quickly destroy them. I usually cut knee slats, and I’m 5’2 so I’ll hem them myself, or just cut off the bottoms. These jeans are by [BLANKNYC]. I like J Brand. I got a pair by Marc Jacobs at the new outlet mall. I like jeans that are high-waisted-ish. I don’t want to have to think when I’m bending over.

Q. Tell me about your shoes.

A. I’m either in slip-on sneakers – Sam Edelman makes good ones – or I wear wedges. I have a weird habit. I will take something and wear it until it is unusable. I don’t really rotate.

Q. What’s an item you thought would never work for you?

A. I have a Judith Leiber handbag and it’s shaped like asparagus. It’s hilarious. In my mind she is an Upper East Side Lady Who Lunches designer. But my mom gave it to me and it has a chain in it, and I wear it as a crossbody bag. I wear it kind of ironically.

Q. What do you love about your closet?

A. The size. Coming from New York, my closet was comical. Coming from New Orleans, I had a clothing rack. My closet now is very luxurious, although I realize it makes you hang on to things you might not normally keep. I have a laundry bag and when I try something on and I don’t feel good in it I put in the bag and bring it to Goodwill.

Q. Do you have a core fashion belief?

A. I’d rather have a few things that I like than all that extra stuff.

Q. If you could take a single item from your closet to a desert island what would it be?

A. I have this bathrobe from Pottery Barn, and it’s so thick. You could use it for shelter and warmth, and as a bed. It’s so thick you might be able to use it as a raft.

Q. What would you wear to a power meeting?

A. A white pencil skirt by Theory, who make great work clothes. My favorite black Zara jacket, and my new favorite T-shirt “Notorious R.B.G.” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), and a bunch of necklaces. One I got on vacation in Cambodia and the other at a mall kiosk. My favorite work bag is a vintage Chanel I got when I studied abroad in Paris.

Q. Describe your look in three words.

A. Boyish, minimal, strong.

Q. What’s your style of shopping?

A. Everything I have is either very high end or very low end. I take really good care of my high-end stuff, and I wear my low-end stuff until it disintegrates.

Q. What trend are you subject to at this stage of your life?

A. Special events. Everyone is getting married. So there are bridal showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, weddings. And we are all friends so you can’t rotate things.

Q. What’s missing in the marketplace?

A. Obtainable, chic formal wear and office wear. It’s nice to spend $500 on a suit you look great in, but most of us can’t do that. I like J. Crew and Banana Republic, but then everyone is wearing the same thing.

Q. Do any stores sell reasonably priced formal wear?

A. Rent the Runway, but it’s still $100 to rent the dress. I wish there was something more in-between. I really like Helmut Lang, and sometimes they’ll do a nice dress in a cotton, or a fabric that is more obtainable.

Q. Do you favor certain colors?

A. I’m having a red thing right now. The past four weddings I wore red.

Q. What scent do you wear?

A. Sag Harbor, by Bond No. 9. All their scents are named after different places.

Q. Where do you shop?

A. I like ChezElle, because their stuff isn’t super precious; they have a mix that is rough around the edges. And I like Sloan for jeans. Online I shop at ASOS.com, zara.com and revolveclothing.com.

Q. What are three out-of-the-ordinary things in your purse?

A. My purse is a Mary Poppins situation. The Apocalypse could come and I’ll be prepared. I always have some kind of snack, like a granola bar. I have a ton of hand sanitizers, and multiple lip glosses and lipsticks, but I only wear Chapstick, so they are clearly there for the weight. You never know when you’ll need another shade of peach lipstick.

Q. Do you have any particular fashion quirks?

A. Messing with all of my stuff. I’ll take the sleeves up. I always am messing with the length of strap. I’ll rarely just wear something off the rack.

Q. Do you wear a watch?

A. I’ve had the same watch since I was 16. My mom and dad gave it to me. It’s a Cartier Pasha. It’s been around the block and it’s still ticking.

Q. What’s your favorite flower?

A. Amaranthus is so creepy and weepy and cool. I love it.

Q. Biggest splurge?

A. My nicest things have been thoughtfully stolen from my mom. But I bought a pair of Jimmy Choo black boots in 2007. I have the sole redone every season.

Q. Who is your muse?

A. Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra.

Q. Any other celebrities whose style you admire?

A. I like Sophia Loren. If I could be someone it would be Gwen Stefani. She seems to have a great family life, and she seems to have a unique sense of style that she articulates through her clothes and how she performs. You can tell it’s her, not some branding person who created an idea of what a pop singer should be.

Q. Can you recommend a book?

A. I just finished “Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins and “The Lean Startup,” by Eric Ries. Right now I’m reading “Watch Me,” by Anjelica Huston.

Q. What wouldn’t you be caught dead wearing?

A. A mini skirt or a crop top, or worse than both of those are high-waisted jeans shorts that are cut way up. I saw a lot of that in New Orleans.

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