Alice Gregory, Writer


“I always wanted to be a writer. And for the most part, I work from home, which is nice, writing about books and culture for magazines and newspapers. Right now I’m working on a few things for T, The New York Times Style Magazine, and an article about cattle auctions for Harper’s. For that, I went to Texas to see a cattle auction and then spent the spring watching all these auction reality tv shows. None of my writing is fiction, which makes it easier. I actually have assignments, a job to do, and a deadline. I could never be a fiction writer because, not only could I never make anything up, but I also couldn’t just tell myself, ‘Oh you have three years to make up an entire universe.' I like deadlines.

That being said, I have to be sure to structure my day, which I’ve gotten pretty good at. I usually wake up around seven and read some of a book or the newspaper on the [Brooklyn Heights] Promenade a few blocks away. Then I come back and make myself breakfast, shower, and get coffee—I like to start my day with some kind of transaction, like buying coffee. And after that, I work for the day, either at home, the New York Public Library, or a nearby coffee shop.

I’m always trying to find ways to regiment myself. Like, I recently downloaded an app called Freedom, which disables your Internet for a period of time, so you can't get distracted. But, if I need to Google things for work, I like the Waste No Time browser, which you can personalize. For example, if I go on Twitter, it says: ‘Shouldn’t you be working?’

I’m used to working and being by myself, but in terms of self-presentation, I go through phases where, for example, I’ll find myself wearing soccer shorts and a t-shirt, drinking a can of soda, and writing, and it’s disgusting. After a few days of that I’ll feel bad and I’ll try to swing the pendulum the other way and I’ll get dressed and wear makeup and present myself as if I was going into an office. It’s pretty schizophrenic. I know it's the feminist line to say, ‘I wear makeup and get dressed for myself and not for men and not for other people,’ but I don’t find it to be true for me, personally. Because if I’m not going to see a person all day, I would never wear makeup and I would never get dressed—I pile my hair up, put my glasses on, and brush my teeth.

One thing I do wear at my desk are these stripper heels, which I use like house slippers. They are new and shockingly comfortable. I saw some slideshow on [NYMag's] The Cut of Helen Mirren wearing stripper shoes. She apparently swears by wearing stripper shoes on the red carpet and for events—I’m serious. So I bought them just to have them because I love Lucite—just look at my tables and chairs. I’ll just sit here and wear them as I’m writing. It’s better than being barefoot, because my feet get cold easily. And look how small this apartment is. I don’t have to walk very far to get anywhere.

When I do go out in the world, when someone’s coming over, or when I feel like I have let myself go for too many days, I have a bare-bones makeup routine. For coverage, right now I’m wearing NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I used to wear Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer, but it was too shiny. 'Dewy' is basically a euphemism for shiny, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it. I put it around my nose to cover redness—which might be caused by my glasses—and under my eyes.  I have chronic dark circles that I’ve had since I was three; I’ve seen pictures. And then I go over the concealer with Benefit Hoola, the bronzer with no sparkle at all, to make it a little bit darker to match my skin. To contour, I put Estée Lauder blush in Hot Sienna under my cheekbones and along my jawline.

I wear mascara, but I’m not very loyal to one kind. I’m currently using Wet n’ Wild’s Megalength. It’s fine. I’ve never really been able to tell the difference between mascaras. I mean they all do the same thing, right?

When my lips are dry, I like Homeoplasmine because it’s not shiny and it’s not tacky. It has a matte, satin-y finish. I really like the way I look in lipstick, but I don’t particularly like the way it feels. So I lean toward stains. Right now I’m wearing my favorite—Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain in Forbidden. I’m always looking for a red that's kind of brown, and this is just brown enough. I also use it underneath other colors in case they fade.

For lipsticks, I really like dark, kind of goth colors because they're objectively the most flattering on me, but I understand that they can look crazy and aren't for everyday wear. I love Chanel Vamp, but I’ve only worn it once because it’s too crazy. MAC Dark Side is purple-ish like Vamp, but a little less dramatic, and more brown. Clarins Dark Cherry is one that I feel like I can wear out into the world, since it’s lighter. And my absolute favorite of all of them is Cranberry Veil by FACE Stockholm, It’s sheer, like Clinique Black Honey, and I bought it because it reminded me of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Actually, a few years after I bought it, I read in a blog post—which has since been taken down—that, according to Carolyn’s friend, she actually wore Cranberry Veil. I’m not sure if it’s true, but that was so satisfying. I was beside myself. When I wear it, I feel like I’m channeling her.

In general, though, lipstick is funny to me. There’s an Andy Warhol quote where he’s talking about his Marilyn Monroe paintings, and says something about how Marilyn Monroe is not kissable but she’s photogenic. And I feel like that’s at the heart of all makeup, especially lipstick. You either admit to the world that you’re just a normal person who eats sandwiches and has a boyfriend that you’re going to kiss goodbye, or you want to pretend to be a little bit famous. It looks good from a distance but it’s not livable at all; it comes off on you and on other people. And in a close conversation with someone, there’s something almost grotesque about lipstick and face makeup, because no matter what, you can see it.

In terms of skincare, I use a Clarisonic in the shower with Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, the one for oily skin. That’s probably not the correct cleanser for me, but I learned that the other, cloudier Cetaphil for normal skin is what they use to approximate semen in movies, so I just can’t. [Laughs] And also I exfoliate a few times a week with Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion. To moisturize at night, my favorite cream is Embryolisse Crème Anti-Âge Raffermissante, which my sister gave me in a suite of French pharmaceutical products she picked up while she was studying there last year. I like it because it smells like a clean mom, and it doesn’t have any stickiness or tackiness. And every evening I use NARS Total Replenishing Eye Cream in hopes of getting rid of under eye circles—I’m not so worried about future wrinkles—but I don’t think it does anything. Maybe it does? I’m kind of agnostic about beauty products in general; I don’t really know if anything works. But I’m charmed by faux beauty-product science, like I love those ads where a fake camera zooms into a hair follicle and engorges it. I mean, how would a lotion ever get rid of under-eye circles? But I still put it on every night.

For day, I’m really diligent about sunscreen on my face. I wear SPF 30 by La Roche-Posay and I wear a visor. See, I want my hair to get lighter from the sun, but I want to keep my face covered. And I walk everywhere, so I need major coverage. I’m actually really bad about sunscreen on my body, though. I like to tan—it’s horrible, because it makes me look healthier, but it’s not actually making me healthier. I know I’ll regret it. I’ll put on SPF 30 at the beginning of the day but I never reapply that. Later, I’ll put on Amazing Maui Babe Browning Lotion, which is an oil—not self-tanner—and it smells like a cookie. And I like Bain de Soleil Orange Gelée SPF 4 sunscreen, as well. I just love the smell so much I wish they made a perfume version of it, and the sheen is awesome. It’s like what retirees wear—I got it from my grandmother.

When it comes to my body, I just use the cheapest moisturizer I can find. I got this Global Balance Moisturizing Lotion on sale at some health food store. I always buy 'fragrance-free' because I feel like it’s just too much surface area to be washing a scent over. And it’s also too much surface area to create an expensive routine for. I use Egyptian Magic on my feet. My sister gave me that, too. She’s the person who supplies me with everything. I use it on my feet and put socks on over it. I don’t know if that works, either. [Laughs]

I can tell you that my deodorant works. It’s Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Antiperspirant and Deodorant Cream. It fits in a bag, and it doesn’t leave a white residue. And I have the best razor—Mach 3—which I’ve been using forever. If I haven’t shaved in a few days, I’ll use it with my boyfriend’s Barbasol shaving cream.

For fragrance, I use Egyptian Musk perfume—it’s another thing that I got from that blog post about Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. She’s basically my style icon. I think everyone choses their style crush by finding someone who is a prettier version of themselves—someone you could resemble.”

—as told to ITG

Alice Gregory photographed Emily Weiss in Brooklyn, NY on August 21, 2103.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nomadic D.

    She is hilarious! When I first scrolled through the photos I was like, who the hell would write in stripper heels?! But then you hear it through her words and you go yeah, that's pretty awesome. Stripper heels and soccer shorts to work at home in. Love it.

  • Nomadic D.

    Also, forgot to say (so distracted by the stripper heels!), Freedom is amazing and everyone working from home should use it. Waste No Time is a new one to me though, and it sounds wonderful. Going to check it out now!

  • k80

    Love this Top Shelf! Love her approach, and it's fun finding out other people use the same products as you. And she's gorgeous!

  • sv

    she is amazing! I want to be her friend. Thanks ITG- my favorite post.

  • Brazil Nut

    This Top Shelf is a gift to womankind.

    Also: time to retire my Cetaphil (!!!??!??!)

  • Ionahil

    I love how unpretentious she is. It's also refreshing to see someone who doesn't spend thousands of dollars on beauty products.

  • Guest

    haha, what an interesting character

  • Colleen Oczkowski

    I too bought Cranberry Veil because I read CBK wore it... Glad I'm not alone on that!

  • Heather P.

    This girl and I would totally get along. I can't really tell much difference between mascaras (only when they need to be replaced...clumps mean it's time to shop), and while I also have dark circles under my eyes that have lasted a lifetime, I can't seem to get rid of them - only hope to mask them!

    Stripper heels might be a great alternative to a foot rest for me. I'm too short for my office chair and desk...this might serve as a good solution!

  • Cholula

    That blog post on CBK is over on XOJane by the fabulously fcked up Cat Marnell.

  • Nina

    Omg just how great is she?? I agree with so many of her points, like using cheap body lotion, not dressing up for yourself and that mascara's just mascara. And that Waste No Time browser sounds genius, I definitely need to use it too, ha ha. Thanks for a really good read and laugh, ITG!

  • Sarita

    She's quite the character, this one!

  • Ghoonio

    I loved her cameo on Girls - the preppy outfit with the silver horned headband, grimacing at Marnie singing Kanye West... perfection.

    • Nina

      oooh how funny, i need to re-watch that episode now!

  • caitlin willard

    she is amazing! so many gems in this article. so true that we pick someone who is a prettier version of us and aspire to be them. what a great insight. and cetaphil as semen....never even want to look at cetaphil again. ever.

  • Emma Handley

    Loved this!! I like how she adds structure to her day with a walk & coffee.

  • SarEve

    A prettier version of themselves! Well said. So true. By the way, Benefit "They're Real" is the only mascara that I found is truly different (better) than all others.

    • Alyson

      I used to use that mascara until I tried Guerlain.

      • SarEve

        I'll try anything new! Thanks for the tip! Does it smell? YSL smells like perfume and makes me sneeze while putting it on. Not a good combination...

      • lisa

        I've always been a mascara snob but just discovered Maybelline's The rocket is exactly the same as benefits, and better then diorshow in my opinion...same results, much cheaper :)

        • SarEve

          Running to Duane Read now lisa!!

  • Chantel

    Awesome article.

  • Lera

    She is very lovely. I like to read about people who work from home, just like myself, and how they plan their day.

  • Leetoki

    Gorgeous, so nice to see a woman admit she's not all that thrown by 'beauty science' but she still does it out of that feminine ritual. Very realtalk!

  • Colleen

    This is a really great one... and her skin looks great! Honestly I didn't see the stripper heels at first because I was distracted by that beautiful hardwood floor. It's perfect!

  • gabrielle

    love her! was pleasantly surprised to see her featured. nice variety ITG :) x

  • Katherine

    I love her totally honest answers and explanations. Great post!

  • Tary

    She's great! So funny!

  • Kiss & Make-up

    The stipper heel comment made me laugh so hard :-) Great post.

  • MaryEmily

    No. YOU'RE not bipolar, you are a person who HAS bipolar.

    A person is not defined by their malady.

    • freudianslippers

      I appreciate that, except I decide how I want to refer to myself in relation to my illness. I use those terms interchangeably, and while I appreciate that not everyone does, I define myself very much by my mental health experiences.

  • Sylvie

    What a fantastic Top Shelf! Possibly best one yet. "Smells like a clean mom"- but I actually imagined the smell immediately!! Amen on the hereditary dark under eye circles. I've just embraced mine; I don't even try to cover them anymore!

  • murt

    This top shelf is awesome - probably my favourite so far.

    Love her opinion on makeup too......... I've had the same kinds of thoughts. Especially lately, when you see so many women wearing bright lipsticks and full coverage matte foundations. From a distance it looks great, but up close, they often look like they're wearing a mask.

  • claire

    My favorite top shelf EVER

  • Olivia

    Ooo she's great! Interesting and unpretentious.

  • Emma Hager

    Thank you guys for posting this! Alice has always been a favorite of mine. She's so hilarious and, of course, a wonderful writer. Writing is incredibly hard work yet her disciplined routine sounds very simple and modest, which amazes me because I know it would take me (and I'm sure others) much more than some apps and isolation to write like that. I'd like to think that stripper heels is the only thing I've left to do to achieve what I want in the craft, but I think it might go beyond that. They can't hurt, though, right? Xx

  • Harmony

    A blonde writer in New York, working at home or at libraries....It reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw ;-)

  • babs

    What a great Top Shelf (up there with Ines de la Fressange)! I love what Alice says about lipstick and about style crushes. She's very down-to-earth when it comes to beauty. I like that she describes herself as a beauty agnostic - I think a lot of people can relate. She's vain about some things, careless about others, and refreshingly honest and unpretentious about all of it. Love this.

  • holydances

    so, shes my new favorite person.

  • Maggie

    Are there a lot of movies needing faux semen?

  • Kristy

    i too agree, I never get dressed up for myself, and don't really believe it when others women say it. I don't buy it either that women dress for women, not men. I pay attention to my appearance when I'm trying to impress someone I don't know well, man or woman, socially or professionally.

  • Kristy

    like how everyone calls themselves bipolar and ADD?

  • Miss Y.

    This is great! I love her straightforward routine and witty remarks!

  • lizzyville

    "You either admit to the world that you’re just a normal person who eats sandwiches and has a boyfriend that you’re going to kiss goodbye, or you want to pretend to be a little bit famous." <3

  • mimi

    i grew up with those exact blue bathroom tiles in my bathroom and swimming pool in australia. seriously, mind blown.

    fave top shelf. alice seems hilarious and down-to-earth. i'm similar in the sense i religiously using these creams and serums, hoping they work but not really sure that they do.. but the fear of wrinkles outweighs the skepticism!

  • mvg

    Still my favorite Top Shelf, I'd love to see more of her pieces on ITG, one of the best young writers I've read recently.

  • Jina Carvalho

    Wonderful to have discovered your work --read stories in New Yorker and Slate BRAVO

  • Kristy

    "I think everyone choses their style crush by finding someone who is a prettier version of themselves—someone you could resemble.” THIS.


NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer
Benefit Cosmetics
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola
Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder 'Pure Color' Powder Blush Hot Sienna
Wet n Wild
Wet n Wild MegaLength Mascara, Very Black
Revlon Just Bitten
Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain + Balm, Forbidden
Clarins 'Rouge Prodige' Lipstick Dark Cherry
Clarisonic Aria
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
NARS Skin Total Replenishing Eye Cream
La Roche-Posay
La Roche Posay Anthelios 30 Ultra Light Sunscreen Lotion Spray
Maui Babe
Maui Babe Browning Lotion
Bain de Soleil
Bain de Soleil Orange Gelee Sunscreen Lotion SPF 4
Bain de Soleil
Egyptian Magic
Barbasol Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin