'I had the idea to start Cupcakes and Cashmere in March of 2008. I had just left Condé Nast to go to AOL, because I felt a shift going online. Even then I would finish my work early and be bored out of my mind, like, 'What can I do now?!' I started creeping online by doing restaurant reviews on Yelp and CitySearch. Looking back at them now is painful—I’ll never tell you my Yelp screen name. [Laughs] But I liked writing about food and décor, and I realized I wanted to continue to do that. I also loved fashion, and even though those ideas seemed mutually exclusive, I thought there must be people like me who wanted to get dressed up and have a great meal with their friends. My goal was just to write and create things I was passionate about, to keep myself inspired. I still can’t believe that I was able to turn it into a full-time job. I just turned 30, and I was 24 when I started it. Now my husband runs the business side of things and we have a creative designer on the team.
As much as I'm interested in fashion, my style is still constantly evolving. I’ve gotten a lot better at not looking at trends as much, and only adopting trends that work for me and work for my body. I have a pretty athletic build, which is not always meant for high fashion. There's nothing wrong with that, but you don’t see that body type celebrated as much. When I was in my soccer uniform or out on the basketball court, I would be like, ‘I’m strong! I feel great!’ Yet when I try on something at Barneys that won’t go over my big bust or strong shoulders, I don’t always feel like I fit in. I know the uniform that makes me feel best: a slouchy jean or a skinny jean, a slouchy tank top, a good pump, and a fitted blazer to bring it all together. My favorite boyfriend jeans are by Gap and my favorite blazer is from Elizabeth & James. Their blazers are consistently cut for a woman’s body. They always make me feel stylish and put together without being stuffy.
As much as I stay pretty consistent with my fashion, I like to experiment with makeup. It’s so fun to play with. Not that I know what I’m doing—I’m not professional by any means. I’m like a sponge, so I try to learn as much as I can from makeup artists, and I do a lot of online research, but I got into makeup very late. I was a tomboy for most of my life, until I was like 15. I didn’t even get my ears pierced until I was 18! I was all about a slicked-back ponytail and I had a unibrow! [Laughs] I didn’t really start caring about fashion or makeup until college, which is silly, because I went to an all-girls liberal arts school—Scripps College in Claremont. And then, right after, when I was [doing ad sales] at Condé Nast. I would walk through the hallways being like, ‘I need to step up my game.’ I started to experiment, but there were some mistakes, obviously. I’m still willing to try a lot, from a fluorescent-orange lip to an extended cat eye, but now I have a day-to-day routine.
I just recently started using Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, which I cut with St. Tropez Skin Illuminator, so it’s a little glow-y and not as foundation-y; I never like the look of completely opaque skin. I’m all about the glow, but I don’t want shine. So, to combat that, I use Makeup For Ever HD Powder on my forehead. It’s something I learned from working with a makeup artist...but you have to be minimal with it because I’ve seen these crazy photos of people who look completely white when the flash hits them. I use TimeBomb concealer, which I found at Sephora years ago, because it actually stays put instead of disappearing in half an hour.
My other favorite thing right now is Armani Bronze Mania. I lack any real facial definition—I don’t have any cheek bones or anything—so it's really important for me to fake it with contouring. And Bronze Mania doesn’t look like bronzer, it just looks like a natural shadow on your face. I apply it with the Nars #21 brush. On my cheeks, I also like Estée Lauder’s new Cheek Gel, but I love it even more on my lips. It gives them a berry stain that lasts for hours.
Occasionally I’ll wear a nude lip. I think Tom Ford makes the best ones: Nude Vanille is a really pretty nude peach, and I like Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss in Naked. You have to have a little bit of a tan to wear a nude lip, though, and some eye makeup, whether it’s mascara or a little bit of a cat eye, so you don’t look like a corpse. When I want to wear really bright lips, Make Up For Ever does a great hot orange, and MAC Snob is a great, retro, ‘60s-style Barbie pink. It makes the rest of your skin pop, and it’s a notice-me shade without being too in-your-face.
On my eyes, Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner in Blackis my go-to. I dot it between my lashes and then just put a tiny bit on top of my lashes. It’s my favorite trick. I like the Revlon liner because it’s almost like a felt pen, so it’s easy to maneuver and draw a really straight line.
I thankfully don’t have a unibrow anymore, but at first I went in the complete opposite direction to deal with them. I was like, ‘Oh, good god’ and tweezed them into surprised little sperm. [Laughs] One of the first mean comments I got on my site—you always remember your first—was someone who said I had ‘slutty eyebrows.’ I cried and called my friends saying, ‘I had no idea my eyebrows were slutty!’ I have been trying to let them grow back in, not to their original state of course, but just because full eyebrows make you seem more youthful and give you more expression. I fill them in carefully with the Laura Mercier Eyebrow Pencil in Neutral Blonde. My eyebrows are very dark naturally, and this color is a lot lighter, but it helps to make them seem like they’re not overdone. You don’t have to press very hard, and there’s a brush at the end to get your brows in order. I feel like I look so much more put-together after I fill in my eyebrows.
I used to just slap makeup onto my face without moisturizing it. But, something I’ve learned since I turned 30 is that it really comes down to taking care of your skin. I’ve started washing my face at night, which is a big step. I hate doing it, because I’ll be falling asleep and then I’m like, ‘Goddammit, I have to wash my face.’ I started with makeup-remover pads, because it was quick and not as severe as splashing cold water all over my face. But then I realized I would end up having to wash my face anyway because the pads would leave behind this weird film and it wasn’t getting the makeup off. So now I wash my face at night. I start by taking off my makeup with lotion, and then I wash my face really well with Bio-Elements Flash Foam Cleanser.
To moisturize, I use Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer because it has sunscreen in it. It’s also supposed to help even out your skin tone. That is one of my problem areas, so I’m really into anything that tells me I will be ‘positively radiant.’ Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex and Eye Serum have made a difference in my skin, too. It hydrates and I feel like it gives me a great glow; it kind of sets the stage for everything else. At night, I use it with a thicker moisturizer, and then in the morning I put it on with an oil—either Rodin Olio Lusso or Josie Maran’s 100% Argan Oil. I’ve been really into oils and eye cream lately. I’ll even put it around my nose if it gets really dry, because eye cream is for really sensitive skin, so why not? And someone told me, ‘Don’t just make sure your face is moisturized, do your neck, too.’ So I’ve been trying to work on that as well.
When I turned 30, I went online and did some research about anti-aging. And I found Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads. I have no idea what they do, but you put them all over your face and leave it on for a few minutes. Then you wash it off and it gives you a little tingly glow. I love them, and I hope they un-wrinkle me. [Laughs] I am just trying to be proactive about things. I haven’t sun-tanned in years, either. Instead I use Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow pads. They don’t get on your hands at all. I use three of them at a time for my whole body—face, everything.
I'm actually pretty hard on my hair. Naturally, it’s mousy-brown, and getting it this light requires a lot of bleaching. It used to feel like hay, because I was using a 2-for-$5 shampoo and conditioner from Target. But, now I’m using Oribe Shampoo for Beautiful Color and Conditioner. I went to some beauty site that lets readers choose their favorites, and they said Oribe, so I trusted it. I was embarrassed when my colorist said ‘your hair feels so great now,’ like it had been terrible before. I’m also working out now, so I have to wash my hair a lot more. I was really pushing it before, washing it every fifth or sixth day. But, I realized that it was disgusting and unhygienic and I’m washing it more. [Laughs]
For styling, I use a super random combination of products: Herbal Essences Dangerously Straight, which they probably stopped making in 2004, and Pantene Pro-V Smooth Serum. I put them in when it's damp, and then blow-dry it. I heard Moroccanoil is horrible for blondes because it turns your hair a weird color, but I don’t really buy that it will make your hair brassy. Sometimes I sneak it in, to make my hair sleek and shiny. I don’t really understand my hair well enough to just let it go natural—it will frizz, wave, and curl, and just end up looking unfortunate.
Fragrance-wise, I’ve finally found my signature scent after years and years of searching— Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower. I’ve already gone through two bottles. I have always wanted a signature scent that people would know me by and that I loved spraying—one that was just mine. Now, the funny thing is that people stop me on the street asking me where it’s from... I don’t know if that’s an indicator that I’m wearing too much of it, or that it's amazing. [Laughs] But it wears really well on my body, and after a few hours it smells different, but still good, and it’s still there.
I always do my own nails. It’s easier, because I’m such a perfectionist, and I bite my nails and my cuticles, so I have to keep them polished at all times or else I’ll just go to town. The at-home manicure comes down to the prep work. You obviously need to get good at the application strokes and using your less-dominant hand, but for me, once my fingernails are buffed and my cuticles are pushed back, they’re like really nice, easy blank canvases. My favorite nude is Topless & Barefoot by Essie, because it's opaque, super flattering, and doesn't get chalky. My favorite bright color is OPI’s Roll in the Hague, which is one of those crazy oranges that looks just as good on your toes as it does on your fingernails. Estée Lauder’s Black Plum is great because it almost looks black, but when it catches the light, you can see that it’s dark purple.”
—as told to ITG
Emily Schuman photographed by Emily Weiss on August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA.