Cleo Wade, Artist


Welcome to our first installment of Top Shelf After Dark, a series focusing on the going out routines of some of the coolest girls we know, along with whatever makeup and hair they’re feeling that night. To kick things off, our pals at Smashbox sent along boatloads of makeup to experiment  with, as one does in preparation for nighttime activities (low light, lower inhibition)—including their new shape-enhancing lip lacquer and forever-sharp liner. First up is artist Cleo Wade.

"I’m going to the premiere of Frank tonight. It’s a new Maggie Gyllenhall movie, and I’m really excited about it because I think it’s about a folk band or something of sorts. The invitation said that afterwards the whole cast is going to perform! I love folk music, so I’m freaking out.

Whenever I have a big night out, I try to give myself some time so I can relax beforehand. It’s really important for me to feel like I can chill out before I go somewhere with a ton of energy, especially in New York. I just had a bath for 30 minutes and I meditated. I usually like to read something calming, and I either have wine or do a chamomile mint tea to reset and replenish. A lot of people only chill on Sundays, whereas I need to have 30 minutes of just chilling every day because if not I feel so high strung.

I’ve been hanging onto my Blackberry, where all my work emails are isolated. Communication now is so everywhere—it used to be that once you were out of the office, if someone was calling your house phone from work it was an emergency. Now it’s like at what point do you stop working? It takes you out of the moment that you’re living, which is personal. I need that separation, and have to take the time out for a few minutes in a bath not thinking about my to-do list.

Even if just for your skin, it’s so good to have a bath before going out because of the nice steam. It makes your face so glow-y and soft. Afterwards I cover my face in vitamin E oil followed by aloe vera gel, which is what I use as a moisturizer. I don’t use any moisturizing products that aren’t oils or a gel.

I usually have a friend here to get ready with because it’s boring getting ready alone! My girlfriends and I turn it into a party. You always have to have a glass of wine, like a rosé. Berries are usually my go-to snack, and I’m obsessed with wasabi seaweed chips. I’ll basically eat anything that’s really, really, really spicy. I try not to eat anything crazy salty before I’m going to a premiere or something because all of the sudden you put on your dress and you’re swollen for some reason. Everything that’s in sushi gets bigger when it’s inside of you. And all the sodium from soy sauce makes your face so bloated.

Then I put on a record—right now it’s a doo-wop mix from the ‘50s. I like to listen to dance music from different eras because I feel that after I mellow out so hard with my bath and my chamomile tea, then if I listen to, like, Norah Jones it makes me feel like going to bed. But because I’m going to go be around people, I’ll listen to doo-wop or disco or David Bowie to wake me up. I’ve also been listening to Mahalia Jackson lately. She’s this really amazing bluesy gospel singer; her voice is insane. I like powerful voices, but then I also like pop. I love Katy Perry and I love hip hop—Nas and Jay Electronica. I always go back to the ‘50s because it was such an era of dance crazes. There were all these people who created songs that have dances that go with them. Which is kind of what they do now—Soulja Boy! Should we just start telling people Soulja Boy is so 1950s?

If I have something to do at night I put my hair in milk braids all day, and when it comes out it leave the funniest little curly crimp things. That’s my hair trick to really trap in the moisture. Curly hair is so dry and it gets so frizzy when it doesn’t have enough moisture, so the braids help it end up with a curl you did on purpose rather than a curl that’s a total mistake.

I feel like when you have an apartment this tiny, you have to be good about hanging your clothes up after you try on a bunch of outfits while figuring out what to wear. I’m a vintage hoarder, so there’s stuff everywhere, but it all gets put to good use! I have this philosophy that clothes are made to be lived in. There have been so many things I’ve done when what I was wearing was such an important part of how I enjoyed the experience. If you go out dancing and you have this amazing dress that twirls, it’s so fantastic. I get that people become attached to a really amazing piece and don’t want to ruin it, but I also think if that happens, it just wasn’t meant to be there for your whole life.

You have to more be experience-focused rather than material-focused. I have friends who are like, 'I can’t believe you lend your stuff out all the time' because I lend everything I have out to friends. And I have like some friends who ruin everything I let them borrow. [Laughs] People are like, 'Why do you keep lending her stuff?' And I say, 'Well, if you had to ask me, a thing is not more important than my best friend or my colleague…' So if I can preach that, I might as well keep living it.

Moschino sent me a dress to wear tonight. I love it so much. I was dying to wear it because I was obsessed over all the little peace signs in the pattern. Though I feel like it’s a little too dressy to wear to something downtown, so I’m going to make it casual and play around with some accessories… This guy who rides on a bicycle made of forks in New Orleans gave this bracelet to me—I’m going to wear it. It’s a fork made into a heart, holding a harmonica. And it’s inscribed with this crazy poem he wrote me. It’s really weird—it works, too! [blows into the harmonica] I’m constantly asking my friends, ‘Do you think I should wear a hat or no hat? Do you think it’s like a little too many accessories?’ I always feel like they seem like a good idea at the time... And is it rude to wear a hat to a movie theater? It feels rude.

Sometimes I’ll do a lip, and sometimes a lot of shadow, but the makeup depends ultimately on the outfit. Plus, tonight is sort of casual, so my makeup is a mix of neutrals—nothing fussy. The bronzer is nice, it doesn’t have huge flecks of shimmer, which I like [Halo Long Wear Blush in Bronze]. Then I did a bit of the green mixed with the taupe shade from the shadow trio in Quick Take—I like to stay in the browns, golds, greens, bronze color family—on the crease and lid, and just smushed the dark brown liner into the lash line [Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner in Sumatra]. This kind of lip gloss is easy, I can eat in it, which is a plus [Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer in Coral].

I have this friend Devon, and her rule is always that you should look at yourself 10 feet from the mirror and squint, because that’s what you'll look like to everyone else. Nobody will even be looking at you so closely, and the person who is interested in inspecting every little thing about you, do you really care what they think? It’s so true. I feel like if you pass your own squint check, then you’re good."

—as told to ITG

Cleo Wade wearing Smashbox Be Legendary Lip Lacquer in Coral and Always Sharp Lip Liner in Rosebud, photographed by Tom Newton in New York. This post is in collaboration with Smashbox

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • thunderlegz

    Ok-tell me about aloe Vera gel-is that healthier than some other options?

    • aurore

      I literally only use pure 100% aloe gel to moisturize my face and my body in the mornings. At night I like using oils, but when you woke up and showered there's nothing better than aloe... so fresh and in 10 seconds your skin absorbs it and is so soft afterwards! It's the best

      • thunderlegz

        thanks! which brand do you use? have you ever tried the aloe vera water at Trader Joe's? Im always tempted to try, but I have a feeling it's for a special purpose that I don't know about.

  • Colleen

    I love this new feature!

  • tera

    Holding onto my Blackberry as well. Touch screens are annoying. I don't understand about her hair, since it looks like it would be curly regardless. Braiding my curly hair disrupts the curl pattern. Whatever- she's cool. I need some of that. My quiet time is when I'm blowdrying my hair!

  • Gillian

    Besides being obviously cool and gorgeous (and I love the lipstick and eye shadow), I love Cleo because she seems like a real, kind, thoughtful person. Nothing ruins a topshelf or an interview more than when someone is eye-rollingly self-absorbed, bratty, or shallow. How many people would be conscious enough to worry that wearing a hat at a movie theater would be rude? That comment made me love her. I wish I could be as sweet as she is about loaning out her favorite clothes, though--I am not not that cool, ha!

  • Bella

    What a great new series!!! I love this girl and her bohemian interior and nature (even though as far as interiors go, I am a Scandinavian style minimalist myself). I totally remember getting ready with girlfriends, good music, clothes and accessories and makeup everywhere in the heady days before husband and children :D.
    And I totally agree with being experience, rather than material focussed.

  • Amy Mills

    I love the idea of this new feature, although I do have to say, it'd be nice if the photographs you're featuring are done without natural daylight, like during the nighttime (or feigned nighttime). I suppose that's a lot to ask, especially considering we're still in summer, but it'd be a nice to see.

    And I like this girl, insanely jealous of her philosophy of "experiencing, not materializing"--- like, if I had a friend who ruined a lot of the clothes I lent her... um, no. But it seems an admirable thing to believe in.

    • Margaret McCarthy

      Amy, the Gloffice was joking that the series should be actually be called After Daylight Savings Time :)

  • Veronica Szafranski

    Love this new series, & can't wait to read more!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    We are obsessed with Wasabi sea weed chips too. Score for Trader Joes!

  • Ann

    This new series is a great idea, as most Top Shelf subjects tend to default to their everyday, daytime beauty habits. I'm especially looking forward to the going-out makeup routines. Evening light allows for far more intense makeup, but you do see a lot of women going too heavy-handed with it as a result. It's tricky to get the balance right.

  • Carina

    Awesome new feature; can't wait to read more! :)

  • Averill B

    OH SHIT ITG WENT THERE! How cool is this series. OH SHHHEAT.

  • Eliza

    LOVE love love this new feature! Hopefully it means there will be more makeup on the blog, too, since it's for going out/events.

    I do the same before a big night out--I have to relax and unwind a little first; I usually do a face mask and veg out a little. (And then ruin all relaxation by realizing I sat around way too long and have 20 minutes to do hair and makeup and be out the door.)

  • Guest

    What a gorgeous breath of fresh air Cleo is! I have mostly stopped reading your top shelf articles because I have grown tired of the privileged, self absorbed types so often featured. But this girl is seems so different -- almost magical! What a lovely attitude about life, friendships, and material possessions. I really enjoyed reading about her.

  • therealblonde

    'It's a new Maggie Gyllenhaal movie.'
    You mean a Michael Fassbender movie! Fassyyyyy

  • Rachel

    LOVE this feature. What a great refresher for ITG. I love the Top Shelves, but I love that we get a little insight into the decision making behind a singular makeup look. Can't wait to see more of these, ITG!

  • Brittany

    She seems like someone I'd want to be friends with. I like how this interview actually had great tips and wasn't just a bunch of advertising for some obnoxiously expensive brands.

  • Lindsey

    She is flawless

  • Ria B

    Loooooove hearing about people's getting-ready rituals. So keen for more of this segment!

  • Emma and Emily

    Love her milk maid braids. She is so gorgeous!

  • katie

    My requests for cool chicks to cover:
    1) Daphne Javitch
    2) Laila Gohar
    3) Jemina Kirke
    4) Magdalena Wosinska

    5) Maryam Nassir Zadeh
    Had to put that out there! (This is like my personal version of building a fantasy football league I think)

    • Layla Corcoran

      I want to see Phoebe Tonkin getting ready for red carpet event.

  • CherHorowitz

    Only 30 minutes of chilling a day? I need HOURS.

  • lucia

    Can anyone tell me what is the makeup brush she's holding please ? X

  • Aparnaa

    Squint test is my new savior. Reminds me of my sister who has terrible vision but refuses to wear glasses because she "[loves] her watercolor world." Hiiii slightly imperfect makeup...

    However, I feel like I scrutinize photos afterwards way, way more... so perhaps not yet.

  • Susanna

    The "squint test" is totally genius.

  • Belle

    Cleo is gorgeous!


Smashbox Halo Long Wear Blush Bronze
Smashbox Photo Op Eye Shadow Trio in Quick Take
Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner
Smashbox Be Legendary Long-Wear Lip Lacquer