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Alice Lancaster | Free People

How They Wear It: Alice Lancaster

February 5, 2016


Welcome to the first edition of How They Wear It. Today, artist Alice Lancaster shares her secrets…

How do you make your style your own? Is your closet peppered with vintage treasures and secondhand riches? Gold buckle belts and sequin sweaters, gaudy baubles to sprinkle on your everyday outfits like glitter? Or is your dresser filled with muted tones and understated jewelry, the sheer restraint of it all the act that sets your wardrobe apart? We all have our thing, even those who swear they don’t. They have it, yes they do, it just might not be so obvious. Style tells a story, the pieces we choose to shroud ourselves in a morse code for our thoughts, feelings, sleep habits and histories…the perfect band tee that you got in high school, the sweatshirt thrown on over a bra just to get you out of the house on time, the pair of loafers that channel your inner uniform-wearing school girl. The latter, a preference of painter and designer Alice Lancaster, are present on the chilly day in Brooklyn when I met the artist in a light-filled warehouse, a variety of her work splayed across one bright white brick wall. Clad in a crisp white turtleneck, a classic mini skirt and denim jacket, Alice’s style matched her artwork in the kind of to-the-point way some abstract work has — you think it’s simple, but you’re likely wrong.

Read on for a glimpse at the work Lancaster has become known for and to learn the ethos behind her look…

Where were you raised? Tell us a bit about your journey to where you are now, artistically… geographically…

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I moved to Chicago in 2007 and lived there until 2012 when I moved to New York. I was taking a lot of photos in Chicago. That was before I began to paint. Then, when I moved to New York, I decided I wanted to become a painter so I taught myself to use oil paints which was very difficult at first. Now I live in Chinatown in Manhattan. I love it so much. It’s very lively and colorful and smelly.

Do you think growing up where you did influenced your personal style in any way?

Sort of. I went to public school but always wished I went to private school because I wanted to wear a uniform. For a long time I was wearing all black every day. That was my uniform. Lately I’ve been incorporating color into my wardrobe, but I have a pretty uniform look. Sometimes it’s very literal in terms of the school girl uniform. Like a plaid skirt, white turtleneck and loafers with socks.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?

I realized it after maybe my 10th year of working shitty day jobs. I had catering jobs, worked at a daycare, worked retail…I couldn’t take it anymore, so I decided to put everything I had into making a living as an artist.

What role, if any, does NYC play in your creative process?

It helps me clear my head. I love spending a few hours painting and then taking a long walk around the city after being cooped up in the studio and not seeing people.

Do you feel your art and personal style are interconnected? How might these two aspects of your Self play with/against one another?

They are. I’ve been drawing much looser lately. Little colored pencil drawings and watercolors of funny little characters. They’re very playful and look like something from a children’s book which complements my sort of school girl look.


Style-wise, what are some of your necessities?

First and foremost, my black loafers by Maryam Nassir Zadeh, red socks, blue jeans and lots of turtlenecks.

What do you hope to communicate through your aesthetic?

My childish impatience.

What assumptions might people make of you based on your style?

She’s an impatient child.

If you could translate the work of any artist to your wardrobe, who would it be? Also, why?

Ludwig Bemelmans. His drawings were so playful and free-spirited.

What makes your style “yours”? How do you set it apart?

I don’t think I could say it’s “mine”. It’s difficult to absolutely stand out without going to extreme lengths. I don’t really think too much about “setting myself apart” as just wearing things I love and feel comfortable in. I just want to feel like myself.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t wear that dog collar.

And the worst?

You should wear that dog collar every day.


What’s next? Anything exciting on the horizon?

I’m looking for a studio so I can make some large-scale paintings. I just started a big self-portrait the other day so it might be the first of a new series.

Thank you Alice! 

As told by Free People 






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