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Harling Ross Anton interview

You Have Harling Ross Anton’s Permission to Skip That Trend

The fashion writer shares her approach to style and shopping.

By Madeleine Kim

Harling Ross Anton has had her share of viral moments over the years. If you’ve derived outfit inspiration from butter or conducted a thrilling discussion about the 3pm outfit-expiration theory, you likely have Harling to thank. But although her ideas reach wide audiences, the writer and fashion editor’s approach to style resists the ethos of the algorithm.

After quitting her job as Man Repeller’s fashion editor in the summer of 2020, Harling began freelancing as a writer and brand consultant, and last year, she launched her newsletter, Gumshoe, shortly before giving birth to her first child. “I was nervous about wading into the Substack morass, because there are so many amazing newsletters already,” she told our founder and CEO, Sarah LaFleur, in an interview last week. “I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon, so it took me a while to find my angle. I realized there wasn’t a newsletter that was scratching the itch that I had, which was, ‘What are we discovering on page 72 of an Etsy search?’”

Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur interview
Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur interview

Since then, Gumshoe has grown a following of readers who look forward to Harling’s thoughtful reflections on fashion and style recommendations that you won’t find on your social feeds. “I like to say that it’s a newsletter about the ‘what’ of shopping, but also the ‘how,’” she explains. “I want people to come away not necessarily buying something, but armed with the tools to figure out if it’s worth making a purchase. When I do make shopping recommendations, I’m focused on vintage, one-of-a-kind things, and stuff from small brands that are making things in really considered quantities.”

We love Harling’s approach to shopping and style, so we asked her to curate a mix-and-match capsule wardrobe featuring our new summer collection. Shop the capsule here, and read on for her full conversation with Sarah.

SARAH LAFLEUR: Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion?

HARLING ROSS ANTON: I’ve always loved style. I had a fashion blog in college during that era when fashion blogs were just starting to be a thing. I would make my roommates take photos of me on my dorm balcony. Of course, my mom was probably the only reader. 

But for better or for worse, that really did help launch things for me, because I published every day. I got in the habit of writing regularly and thinking about fashion. And that actually is what ended up getting me the job at Man Repeller—and that was my first job where I was like, “This is what I want to be doing. I feel like I’m in the right place.”

I want to talk about your typical day. I know that with kids, nothing is predictable, but how would you say a day goes by for you right now?

I have my son on a pretty strict schedule at the moment, so my days are actually quite repetitive, for better or for worse. Sometimes it can get really monotonous. Other times, I’m grateful for that structure. 

We get up early—earlier than I would like—and I spend my morning just hanging out with him. We’ll have breakfast together. He’ll try to steal my English muffin. Then, at 9:30, he finally goes down for his first nap of the day, and that’s when I start doing some work. 

Right now, I’m spending most of my time on my newsletter. When you say you have a newsletter, it sounds like a fake job, but I can’t underscore enough how much time it takes me every week to put it together, largely because of how picky I am about the shopping links—not even to mention the actual writing portion of it.

Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur
Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur

He naps for three hours a day, and when he wakes up, we’ll usually go on a walk. I try to get outside as often as I can. I spent most of the winter wearing sweatpants and staying indoors, so now that it’s finally getting nice out, I try to put on real clothes and go for a walk, get a caffeinated beverage, and maybe meet up with a friend—I have some who are finally starting to move uptown. Maman is my go-to coffee shop. They make a great matcha latte.

After we come back, he has his lunch. At this point, I am pretty hungry, but I wait until he goes down for his second nap at 1:30 to eat my lunch because I want to eat it peacefully. I’m usually working while I’m eating. Then he gets up, and I feed him again, and then we spend the rest of the day playing, or sometimes we’ll go on another walk. He goes to sleep at 7:00 after his bedtime routine, and then I usually have dinner with my husband and do a little bit more work, or sometimes we’ll watch a show. I’m asleep pretty early these days, just because of the early wake-up time. That’s pretty much my day.

I know that calendar intimately. You said that you’re out of sweatpants now. Do you have a Monday-through-Friday uniform?

Yes. Although I don’t feel like motherhood changed my style. It’s just made me more ruthlessly decisive about what I want to wear. I don’t overthink things as much. And I was like this before I had my baby, but especially now, I’m a rampant outfit repeater.

I like to have a style theme that I’ll repeat daily. Right now, that theme is crisp, bright white from neck to ankle, and then a dark pair of shoes. When I’m going outside, I have this yellow baseball cap that I’ve been wearing repeatedly. It just adds a little bit of punchy color to the otherwise monotone look. Sometimes I’ll throw in a pair of red socks, and usually a couple of accessories, but that’s my current spring uniform. It offers enough flexibility that I can play around with it and find different versions of it, but at the same time, there’s enough structure that I don’t have to think.

Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur
Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur
How would you describe your personal style? What are your guiding principles when it comes to shopping and styling?

I think I have a hard time applying some of the more classic descriptors like “maximalist” or “feminine” or “tailored,” partially because my style seems to evolve a lot, but also because I like a little bit of everything and find those kinds of words limiting.

That said, there are two constants in my style. The first is that I really prioritize comfort. If something is uncomfortable, I just know that I’m not going to wear it—even if I love the way it looks. I know it’s not going to suit the shape of my life. The second thing is that I really try to have a sense of style that feels uniquely my own. I’m not always sure I’m successful at that, but it’s something I think about a lot. I would always rather my style be a little weird than look the same as everyone else’s.

I have a very dogged sense of style. I get really granular ideas in my head about particular outfits I want to recreate, or a vintage item I want to find. My aesthetic extends from that impulse. My favorite things that I own are things that feel really specific to me personally, whether it’s something that I am obsessed with regardless of whether it’s trendy, or something that I dug up in some random corner of the internet. Those hyper-specific things that then lead to hyper-specific outfits are the things that get me the most excited to get dressed.

You’ve said that one of the aesthetics you’ve always embraced is the ribbon trend—regardless of whether it’s popular at the moment. That made me think, I wonder what my signature item is. What are your tips for people discovering their own signature aesthetic?

I’d go back to the idea of what suits the shape of your life. Think about your day-to-day and what you’re gravitating toward, and ask yourself which pieces make you feel most at home in your body. I think that’s really critical. There are certain outfits that I put on and feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. But then there are other things that make me feel like I don’t have to think about what I’m wearing the rest of the day. 

Those outfits are the breadcrumbs that are going to lead you to your signature pieces—pieces that feel so right, you forget you’re wearing them.

Harling Ross Anton mmlafleur
Harling Ross Anton fashion
You’ve mentioned that your style isn’t very influenced by what’s happening on the runways. But are there any trends that you did participate in?

Birkenstocks have gone in and out of the trend cycles over the last 10 years, but they have never gone out of my closet. They are my ultimate go-to walking sandals. This is the perfect example of a trend that really suits the shape of my life. Another one is cotton boxer shorts. They’re just so comfortable, and I find them really easy to style. They’re a very practical option for me in the summer.

And then there was the big collared blouse trend. That trend surfaced, I think, in winter of 2020, and I already had a vintage blouse with a huge collar that I’d bought at a flea market outside of Paris prior to that. I was like, “Amazing. I already own this item.” If a trend surfaces, and you already have that item in your closet, it’s an immediate check that it fits within your personal style.

At this point, I do have a healthy relationship with trends, and a better understanding of how much that lends itself to having better style. Now, I find it just as satisfying to skip trends as I do to participate in them. My goal is really for my taste to influence my relationship with trends, not the other way around.

That hasn’t always been the case for me, though. In my early twenties, I used to shop a lot of fast fashion, and I used to participate in trends rampantly. When I started paying more attention to what I was holding onto versus what I wanted to stop wearing after a month, things really started to shift. I wish I’d had that reckoning sooner, and I really admire the young people today who are advocating for vintage shopping or championing small brands.

Harling Ross fashion
Harling Ross fashion

A few questions to ask yourself before buying into a trend: Does this trend suit the shape of my life and the way I’m accustomed to getting dressed? Do I like it just because it’s trendy, or does it speak to my sense of style on an intrinsic level? Can I scratch the itch with something I already own, or do I have to get something new? And, most importantly, Can I make this trend my own? If the answer is yes, you’re less likely to feel like you’re simply regurgitating something that you saw on Instagram. Otherwise, your impulse to buy and wear it is just a trick of the algorithm.

I talk about algorithmic airbrushing, which is when everything starts to feel very homogenous. The internet loves to categorize things. That’s what helps algorithms work better, but it’s also what makes style less interesting.

I wanted to ask about your mom, whom I know has had a huge impact on you. How has she influenced your style today?

I would say that my mom is the blueprint for who I am creatively. She has a truly limitless supply of ideas and a sense of enthusiasm to match them. She’s one of those people who can imagine something that doesn’t exist, and then becomes really determined to make her own version of it. She’ll think of an idea for a necklace, and then she’ll source random beads and charms from Etsy and a ribbon from M&J Trimmings in New York’s fashion district and make what she’s thinking about.

Harling Ross mmlafleur fashion
Harling Ross belted dress
What were your favorite M.M. pieces that you tried on?

Oh my gosh, so many, but in particular, that pima cotton T-shirt has altered my brain chemistry. I am a fabric obsessive, so quality materials are truly everything to me. I didn’t take the Leslie T-shirt off for the entire day after we were done with the photo shoot, and I’ve also been wearing it repeatedly since then. I’m really sad when it’s in the wash. It’s just so luxurious-feeling, nothing really compares to it. That’s the thing about nice fabrics—they not only feel good to the touch, but they also hang better.

I’m happy to hear you say that, because that T-shirt is made by a factory that I’m particularly enamored by. I like all of my factories, but this one has an almost all-female founding and executive team out of Peru. It’s an amazing owner and team.

That makes it even more special. 

I also loved the Leo pullover, which was 90% cotton and 10% silk—such a nice blend. And the silhouette itself is really nice. That really easy pullover-type collared sweater is having a slight zeitgeist moment right now. 

All the pieces were so comfortable and well-made. They’re really the types of pieces where you feel like you can go about your day without having to adjust or change.

Harling Ross animal print
Harling Ross animal print
A lot of our customers would describe themselves as time-starved women. What advice would you give to someone who enjoys expressing themselves through clothing but just doesn’t have time to shop? What can they do?

I would say that that actually sets you up for success in a way, because sometimes, shopping and using clothes as a form of self-expression don’t go hand in hand. I think that shopping too much can get in the way of feeling like you’re saying what you mean when you get dressed.

That said, if you really want to shop but have limited time, accessories are a really nice area to focus on. M.M.LaFleur has such great belts right now. I used a lot of them in my styling for the shoot, and I’ve been wearing them after the shoot was over, too. Things like a silk scarf or an amazing vintage brooch—you’re just going to get so much mileage out of those pieces. So that’s a nice area of focus if you feel the itch to shop, but you’re short on time.

Shop Harlings complete capsule here.

Written By

Madeleine Kim

Madeleine Kim is the Senior Brand Manager at M.M.LaFleur, where she started out as a stylist. She loves developing styling-focused content and creating newsletters that bring the M.M. community together.

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